Age Gap Romance: Forbidden Pleasure or Just Good Fun?

Fantasy Author T. L. Shreffler
4 min readApr 10, 2024
Gareth and Maddy from Heart of the Wolf, a forbidden love age-gap romance available on Kindle Vella!

Every girl has “their thing.” And I guess you can argue that every guy has their thing, too. But among women, I think the allure of the “older male” has always been a forbidden fantasy, and that’s why it shows up so commonly in fiction!

I was 23 years old when I first heard the term “Silver Fox.” One of my friends brought a guy to a party who looked like he might be in his late 30s or early 40s, and I heard the girls call him a “Silver Fox,” meaning he was “an old guy who’s still hot.” Alternatively, I have heard an Age Gap romance called “dating a daddy” or “a cougar” (if the woman is the older partner), and a “May-December romance.”

Sora and Crash from The Cat’s Eye Chronicles by T. L. Shreffler.

And so every girl has “their thing.” In my own writing, my secret love of Age Gap Romance is revealed in the 8-year difference between the anti-hero assassin, Crash, and the young and idealistic main character, Lady Sora Fallcrest in my YA Fantasy series, The Cat’s Eye Chronicles by T. L. Shreffler. Now, an 8-year difference is not necessarily considered “shocking” in the world of fiction. Especially in fantasy. Especially in a medieval-based world of arranged marriages, rigid social castes and feudalism. But in my own weird brain, I thought an 8-year gap made the most sense considering where each character is at in their personal development. Crash is an assassin of some rank and expertise when he meets Sora at her “coming-of-age” Blooming Ceremony. And I think his protective side — being a few years her elder and more experienced in life — is part of what attracts her to him over the course of the six book series.

I will admit, I enjoy writing about the themes of an Age Gap romance more than I enjoy writing the themes of a typical romance. You can blame Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong, where Menolly, the main character and a talented dragon singer, falls in love with her mentor, Masterharper Robinton. He just happens to be a good 20 years her elder. Oops! But he’s just so, so swoonworthy!

Another surprising Age Gap Romance in YA Fantasy is in Tamora Pierce’s “The Immortals Quartet.” The four books are called Wild Magic, Wolf Speaker, Emperor Mage and The Realms of the Gods. Daine, girl of around 15 years old, is gifted with wild magic. She has the coveted ability to speak to animals. After going on numerous adventures, she ends up getting a big crush on her mentor and teacher, the wizard Numair. (I believe Numair is around 15 years her elder.) It’s a shocking but very squee! inducing turn of events. I could hardly catch my breath in Book 3 of the series when their romance begins to develop, and of course, my little teenage heart couldn’t handle it when they finally confessed.

So is Age Gap Romance a forbidden fantasy? Or is it just a bit of fictional good fun? Every girl has her preference, but I don’t think there’s any harm in writing an Age Gap Romance. It’s all just fiction, after all.

What I Love the Most About Age Gap Romance

  1. The mystique of the older, dominant, more experienced male. This adds to the power dynamic between the two characters.
  2. The young, naive, idealistic female, who is usually coming-of-age in a time of peril, where she must rely on the older male for protection and guidance.
  3. A teacher-student vibe where the authority of the male lead supports and encourages the younger female partner.
  4. The headstrong competitiveness of the young female MC, setting out to prove her independence, while our more experienced hero waits quietly in the wings to provide leadership and support when needed.

So I think these four themes are what make an Age Gap relationship in fiction so incredibly attractive! Do you have a favorite Age Gap Romance, or a series where the ages of the characters surprised you? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment and tell me.

Click to Read “Heart of the Wolf” on Kindle Vella!

Click to Read “Sora’s Quest” Book 1 of The Cat’s Eye Chronicles



Fantasy Author T. L. Shreffler

Romantic Fantasy author who loves tortured heroes, vulnerable heroines and a delicious slow-burn. Dragonslayer wordcraft master! Email: