You’ll find no Christian Greys here and the term “billionaire” is being used very loosely, as sometimes a millionaire will get the job done just as well. Or even a character who’s highly successful with the bank account to back it up. These are heroes where money is no object and, while their financial lives may be smooth sailing, odds are their personal lives are in desperate need of some work.
The Appeal: I’ve been getting more and more into this character trope and I think I may have cracked the code. Maybe. Though I certainly welcome other opinions. Most of the time, the billionaire in question is male. Wealthy heroines aren’t unheard of, but it’s typically the hero who possesses this quality, and the dissection of gender versus character income is a topic for another time.
But back to the fat stacks.
When it comes to billionaire romances, there’s a Cinderella story involved. The hero has financial security (emotional stability notwithstanding) and tends to offer the heroine some sort of foundation, whether it’s through some business arrangement, in which they vow to get all sorts of freaky with one another but never fall in love (and we all know how that ends), or it could even be through something as simple as employment. Or help – perhaps some family member of the heroine is in dire straits and she desperately wants to assist them.
Not only that, but there’s an air of mystery and power that comes with a lot of money. At least on paper. Truthfully, I’ve never found myself attracted to many of the individuals running a Fortune 500 company. Sorry, C. Doug McMillon. But we’ve all had those terrible relationships where our significant other is bumming for gas money (undergrad was a dark time) and it’s appealing to find a person who has their proverbial shit together. Paying bills is sexy.
The Pitfalls: First off, we don’t want an entitled douchecanoe for a hero. A bit of tension between the hero and heroine is always a plus, but we don’t want to outright hate the guy because he’s spoiled by privilege. Money can’t also be the main motivating factor for romance. Gold digging is a bad look on anyone. Also with money, there is clearly a power dynamic in play. Some may not mind characters who use his or her wealth to an advantage, but I’d prefer not to cross any lines of manipulation. However, readers’ mileage may vary depending on what they are or are not willing to tolerate. While making someone a billionaire may seem excessive, an even hand should be used with how one’s wealth is handled in relation to others.
Recommendations: Naked in Death by J.D. Robb: For those who may not know, J.D. Robb is the pen name of Nora Roberts. This particular book/series is a bit grittier than other romances she’s known for, but I adore the In Death series. It’s a long one, just FYI, with the series at around forty books and counting. I’m not too far into it, so my basis for this recommendation is only on the first few books. Set in the near future, Eve, the heroine, is a kickass female detective and Roarke, the hero, is probably one of the best “billionaires” in romance history. You can quote me on that. He also happens to be the lead suspect in her current case. Naturally, things get a little heated, and if you’re the type of reader who prefers to follow a couple through various ups and downs (a la Outlander) instead of jumping between preset couples, this series might be for you.
Stranded with a Billionaire by Jessica Clare: If you want to just binge on billionaires, Clare has a series entitled Billionaire Boys Club. This is book one and I won’t be held responsible for the aftereffects should you decide to read them all in one weekend. As the name suggests, the hero and heroine wind up stranded in a hotel, which is probably prime stranding territory if you ask me. The heroine’s name is Bronte (yep, that’s right) and she’s a Midwestern waitress, which clearly means that she’s never heard of the scandalous billionaire Logan Hawkings. A quick and certainly steamy read, you may just have to tackle the rest of the series after you’re finished with this one.
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young: This book is a little on the erotica side of the contemporary romance spectrum, but I wouldn’t label the sex gratuitous necessarily. If you like your billionaires from across the pond, I’d highly recommend Young’s Scottish mogul, Braden Carmichael. Complete with a friends-with-benefits arrangement and a meet-cute scenario, On Dublin Street is a great example of a saucy heroine and a couple with its fair share of emotional complications. There’s something for everyone in this book between the dramatic backstories of the characters and the quippy dialogue.