My grandmother used to say, “It’s just as easy to love a rich man as a poor man.” Her advice was all about preservation, of course; a practical consideration for a woman of her era. My grandma raised her family during The Great Depression, and even thought fortunes of the rich were lost in droves in 1929, their family did okay. There was family money and a sound business and no one went hungry or went without shoes.
All through history money has made a man desirable. Made him sought after. Made him sexy.
I suppose this is still true, but I like to think we fall in love with billionaire heroes because of the qualities that don’t cost anything.
But buckets of cash certainly get them noticed and from the Harlequin category romances filled with tycoons and sheiks, to the surge in the billionaire sub-genre, being rich isn’t a bad thing in a romance.
I hadn’t ever written a billionaire.
So here was the challenge: I had to make the guy young, gorgeous and rich—okay, not so unique, but I didn’t want him dependent on family money, so he needed a career that would bring him great wealth. Some kind of real estate developer would have worked, but it had been done. So I sent my hero to MIT, gave him double Ph.D.’s in computer science and he developed a ground-breaking financial security software.
He made a bundle.
So I had my hero, I had his money and now I had to make the heroine fall in love with him. And that’s when it all came together. Because it wasn’t about the money.
Jason Campbell, from The Temporary Wife and his brother, Josh Campbell, from my new release Unexpectedly Yours, are super wealthy men and when writing them I made the wealth a factor when looking at lifestyle, like cars, homes and nights on the town. Jason has a yacht. Josh has a multi-million dollar loft in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City. They can get into the best new restaurant, but would rather cuddle with their favorite girl and watch a movie.
That’s really at the heart of the billionaire romance. If you break down the give and take between the hero and the heroine, the love story is about all the things money cannot buy. It’s about kindness, sensitivity, and chemistry. It’s about the intangible things that make a good man. The heroine falls for the man, not the bankbook.
The man with earned wealth has a lot of things going for him. He works hard; he’s intelligent; he has drive and vision. These are all good characteristics and they are the same characteristics we want in any man we’d find swoon-worthy, whether he owns a yacht or a fishing boat.
I’ve seen a lot of criticism about the billionaire sub-genre recently; apparently the depictions are unrealistic. To be honest, I wouldn’t know, as I live a very middle class life. What the sub-genre does do, is it provides us with a great escape. The ability to dream about what a life would be like if we had all that money. But it’s the character of the hero that is most important. Is there chemistry? Could we love him?
Unexpectedly Yours doesn’t glamorize the wealthy lifestyle. In fact, it’s really about Josh not being what anyone thought he was. He wasn’t enamored with his parents’ money or power, and he was willing to work hard and do the right thing in his business life and his personal life. That’s who Caroline fell for.
In the billionaire/millionaire romance the reason the heroine falls for the rich boy isn’t because he’s rich. My grandmother’s advice may have been practical, but our heroine is just following her heart. It’s not about the security and perks. The reason our heroines, and readers, fall in love with our heroes is because of they have hearts that look for and deserve love.
And hearts like that are priceless.
Tell me about your favorite heroes in romances. Who is he?