For as long as people have been writing romances, the obscenely wealthy hero has been a staple. Christian Grey may have been the most recent tycoon to take the world by storm, but he’s not the only one, and he’s certainly not the last. Put him in modern times, and Mr. Darcy himself is a gruff billionaire who needs a plucky, resourceful heroine to make his boring rich guy existence come to life.
So what makes the billionaire romance so enduringly popular?
It’s an appealing fantasy for sure. Who wouldn’t love to have a wealthy mogul drop into their life and fall madly in love with them? This kind of hero can offer more than just a forever love. He offers a true escape from all the worst parts of daily life. Ready to ditch that nine to five or kiss your smelly roommates—or worse, your father’s house—goodbye? Money helps. Cinderella may not have gone looking for a prince, but when he whisked her away from a life of misery, it couldn’t have hurt that he replaced it with gorgeous gowns and a castle.
There’s something else there, too, though. One of the core pieces of any good romance is the idea that there’s that one special person out there for all of us. Someone who fits. Finding him or her heals up this missing piece inside our hearts, and with a hero who already has everything, it’s just that much more awe-inspiring to watch him discover the one thing he never had. Hell, the one thing he’d always imagined he never could. Love.
But the problem with any popular trope is keeping it fresh. How does the billionaire romance keep sucking us in? How does each story establish itself as unique?
The answer, I’d say, lies with the man. Sure, on the surface Prince Charming and Mr. Darcy and Mr. Grey, and even Mr. Wayne and Mr. Stark have a certain amount in common. But to truly love them, you have to go deeper. You have to look past the fact that they’re rich, successful, powerful men. You have to see that Mr. Darcy’s gruffness is only there to hide his shyness. That Mr. Grey’s billions and his handcuffs keep people at a distance so they can never hurt him the way he was hurt before. That Bruce Wayne never got over the loss of his parents, and that deep down, beneath the swagger and the razzle dazzle, Tony Stark desperately hates himself.
What keeps the billionaire romance genre thriving is that every billionaire has his own story, his own past, his own demons. Read one billionaire romance and you’ve read that—exactly one.
And the great news is that there’s always another one out there, just waiting to sweep you off your feet.
RITA® finalist author Jeanette Grey started out with degrees in physics and painting, which she dutifully applied to stunted careers in teaching, technical support, and advertising. When none of that panned out, she started writing.
Never content to do just one thing, she is published in new adult, as well as contemporary, futuristic, and male/male romance. Her short fiction has appeared in two consecutive annual editions of Best Erotic Romance, and her novella, Take What You Want, was named one of Library Journal’s best books of the year.
In her spare time, Jeanette enjoys making pottery, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and her pet frog. She lives, loves, and writes in upstate New York.
She is a member of the Professional Authors Network of Romance Writers of America, as well as a member of Capital Region Romance Writers. Jeanette can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, Pinterest, and JeanetteGrey.com.