There’s an abundance of billionaire and romance books on the market; more than an abundance, actually. There are standalone novels, extended series developed along a theme, authors who specialize in this sub-sub-genre, and authors who join with others in creating a series of books. I’m not so sure this is a sub-genre as it is an industry.
I recently read three of these novels, by different authors and unrelated by series, looking specifically to answer a few questions: How do the writers imagine their billionaires to live? Where do they live? How did they make their money? And who are they, or what kinds of families do they come from? Considering these three, and several others (see “Related” below), I discovered some very common similarities.
A few of the billionaires in these stories come from wealthy families; most have made a lot of money as entrepreneurs, usually in the tech industry. If they come from wealthy families, there’s some conflict with the family. Both kinds of billionaires will (inevitably) spend a lot of money, as in the tens of thousands, when they’re trying to impress a woman on a date, flying in servants and all kinds of specialty foods from all over. I don’t even have to mention that they’re always handsome (of course, who wants to write or read a romance about an ugly billionaire?). Ninety-nine percent of the time, the billionaire is a man; I can recall only one story in which the billionaire of the title was a woman.
One other thing these billionaires tend to do – they fall in love with a woman who’s down-and-out, or struggling to make ends meet, or raising a child or children as a single mother and living on a subsistence wage. Read enough of these stories, and you soon see that these novels are a variation on the “knight in shining armor” fairy tales, with a big house instead of a castle.
In Her Billionaire Inventor by Dobi Daniels, Phillip Dexington owns a medical technology company that’s developed a new product for knee replacements. It’s his second company; he sold the first for more than a billion dollars. Sarah Nash has returned home from California to visit her best friend from high school for Christmas. She’s just finished paying off debts run up by a lousy boyfriend who conned her mother into helping him to her credit cards. Her car has barely survived the trip.
Phillip and Sarah meet at the local town’s orphanage, where they’re both doing some volunteer work during the holidays. It turns out they have a history; Phillip knows it but Sarah doesn’t remember it. And in school, Phillip had been the class nerd who has somehow turned into a hunk.
You have to allow for a number of coincidences in the story, but it’s a tale of first love comes around again.
Her Billionaire Lifeguard by Sophia Summers involves a different industry – cosmetics. Trey Hemsworth and his partners have a highly successful cosmetics firm, and to get away for a break, they head to Cancun. They meet Scottie Redding, an artist with a small shop. Trey becomes entirely smitten with the beautiful artist. Meeting the group on the beach, Scottie thinks their lifeguards, working in Cancun for the summer.
Then Trey discovers Scottie’s identity – the daughter of his mentor in the cosmetics industry, a man who recently died. Scottie had control of the company wrested away from her, and she fled to Mexico. They finally admit who they are to each other and begin to plan a way to win back Scottie’s company for her.
Some of the shenanigans that go on with the company board and the villain of the story tend to stretch credibility a bit, but the story eventually comes through with a tale of true love rewarded.
In The Billionaire Doctor by Deb Goodman, the billionaire in question is Owen Montgomery, working as an emergency room doctor. His family owns the biggest pharmaceutical company in the country, and his grandfather wants him to give up this hospital nonsense and take his place in the firm. He’s also still reeling from the end of his engagement with a woman she should feel thankful he got away from. But he doesn’t believe he can pursue any relationship until he understands what happened to the last one.
Natasha Campos is a former schoolteacher now running her own student academic improvement firm. She has a problem with commitment – staying committed to any career and any relationship. Often feeling overwhelmed with running her own business, she’s already thinking about applying for a position with Teach for America. She also harbors hurt feelings from high school, when she was often bullied by the school’s top cheerleader – the woman who was engaged to Phillip.
They meet, they develop a relationship, they start to fall in love – but. Will Phillip succumb to family pressure and leave for Chicago to run the firm? Will Natasha accept the position with Teach for America and leave any thoughts of Phillip behind?
By using diverse characters and a realistic billionaire, the story manages to avoid cliché that it could have slipped easily into. Instead, it becomes a rather absorbing account of two very different people trying to find themselves and each other.
Top photograph by Daniel Salcius via Unsplash. Used with permission.