Billionaire romance books: The line between fiction and reality

August 3, 2023 | General

a teal square with two people sitting on piles of money, and the text "Billionaires in romance books" written in lavender

Full disclosure: I don’t like billionaires. And yet, I have a series of cozy billionaire romance books in the works, and I’m about to publish the first one: Yours, For Now (Gabe and Lina’s story, coming out August 29, 2023). Every author in the romance sphere, just like any creative in the storytelling realm, might reach a point where they question the boundaries between reality and fantasy. For a long time, I believed fiction had to create a better version of reality. Now, I’ve reached a new understanding of the function of fantasy for people, and I’m able to look at this topic with much more nuance.

It’s with this new understanding that I wanted to approach this post. I’ve struggled, folks! Even though I’m usually uncomfortable with billionaire romance books, I’m going for it. What convinced me to write this trope?

Why do we like billionaire romance books?

In real life, there are no ethical billionaires. I really believe that no one can accumulate that kind of wealth unless they have capitalized on inherited privilege and/or used unethical practices. But, since I’m writing about storytelling here, I want to press pause on that specific issue. Let’s just say I don’t like billionaires IRL. However…

Mega rich characters, especially Main Male Characters, are everywhere in romance books. Have you wondered why? I think it’s because it helps fulfill two main fantasies. One, money can symbolize security. It allows us to imagine a life where we don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. We could eat well and cover all our needs and some extras. Two, money can also provide access to power, luxury, and freedom. In a way, it’s about envisioning ourselves as people who don’t have to work, can sleep in 1,000 thread sheets every night, and fly across the world at the drop of a hat.

Often, people say they read romance books for escapism or to explore fantasies. This can include losing yourself to a world of uncomplicated wealth. But what is the point of fantasies in romance?

Romance and our fantasies

Aside from entertainment and escapism, there are other reasons why someone might read romance books. I believe two of those have to do with fantasies.

Personally, I like the version of fantasies where we use romance books as a sketch of what could be. In my books, I can create a world where everyone is working on themselves and have a desire to grow as people. When I write these stories, I can imagine what love can look like between people who behave like this. This way, storytelling can create a version of reality we can aim for, and in which we can find relief. A comforting, hopeful daydream.

Alternatively, stories can be a safe container in which to explore fantasies we never want to experience in real life. We have a lot more agency on the things that happen in our head, and can consent to things a lot more safely than we ever could in real life. The power dynamics change significantly in our imagination. Therefore, books with the proper content warnings read by psychologically mature people can be a safe vehicle of self-exploration.

In my opinion, there is a way to merge the two. And I think that’s partly why I came up with my Cozy Latine Billionaires series.

Cozy and rich

A few years ago, I read a post (which I couldn’t find today) about what it takes to become mega rich. This was written by a social worker whose parents had boats and several houses across the world. In his write up, he talked about a certain need to collect riches and have more than whomever they were comparing themselves to. In this person’s opinion, this was a never-ending desire to keep up with others in an even better financial situation. Besides that description, the author also said that most people wouldn’t reach those benchmarks, because most people don’t have that kind of need.

I don’t have a lot of interest at this point in writing characters who are driven by a need for more. That’s why I had to make my billionaire characters be huge philanthropists. They all actively look for ways to give their money away! What can I say? Mega rich people who act this way is part of my fantasy, too.

All in all, I think I found a way to tell these stories where I can still promise you my brand of cozy. In these books, the characters are actively wanting to grow and be good. Most characters are Latine. Lots of them are fat. The stakes are low. And all of this happens in a realm of wealth.

Billionaires that defy expectations

In my Cozy Latine Billionaires series, three MMCs find a family with the Sotomayors. The Sotomayor grown-up children get their happily ever after. And we get to see this happen in a version of the world where riches are shared.

Have you wondered what you’d do if you won the lottery? Because I have! The kind of things I imagine involve working in things that give me satisfaction and purpose, with plenty of time to rest, and indulging in some luxuries.

The advantage of being an author is that I can add stuff like that to this new series. That is, I can make these fantasies into a narrative… and take them as far as I like. For example, in the second epilogue of Yours, For Now, Gabe fulfills one of my fantasies for Lina. I like the idea of a world where racialized and otherwise marginalized people have access to this kind of stuff, too. 

In a way, I’m imagining a universe where this is possible. Seeing it this way helps me be excited about writing these stories. I’d love to welcome you into this world. Would you like to come with me?