Age Gap romance has long been popular – from a time when it wasn’t even viewed as an age gap for a hero to be a good few years older than the heroine. It certainly wasn’t judged to be scandalous: consider Emma and Mr Knightley (21 and 37), or Marianne and Colonel Brandon (16 and 35). Maxim de Winter is twice the age of his second wife in Rebecca, and there are twenty years between Mr Rochester and Jane Eyre.
Even in Mills & Boon and Harlequin romance novels from the past few decades, it’s hardly even remarked upon when a heroine fresh from finishing school marries a man ten or more years older than her. Today it’s more about the power play and the taboo. It’s a useful obstacle for a relationship, but there’s an important rule of thumb: the hero is with the heroine in spite of, not because of, the age gap.