Billionaire romance novels have been an incredibly popular romance subgenre for years now. But lately there’s been talk that this particular trope may be losing its appeal. Is Billionaire romance over? Let’s take a closer look at what's happening with this cherished subgenre and evaluate why it might not be losing popularity with readers. I’ll also suggest some new ways to approach the trope that could spark interest for a segment of readers who love this trope but find that it’s a little too old school for them now.
What is a Billionaire Romance?
This particular category of romance features protagonists who are living the high life, complete with opulent mansions, private jets, and extravagant lifestyles. These stories tend to focus on the romantic relationships and steamy encounters between the billionaire and their love interest. They usually feature alpha males and some power dynamics that are either explicitly or subtly explored. This element more than anything else has lead to an increase in clichés, in my opinion. The trope of the damaged, reclusive billionaire who falls for the ordinary woman has been used time and time again. It's time to take a closer look at these clichés to see if there's room for innovation.
Can we reinvent the billionaire hero to give readers a fresh take on this old trope?
To be honest, I think it’s almost necessary. Gone are the days when most of us can get lost in the fantasy of the billionaire who’s still a wholesome, caring person. Too many disprove that fact every day! And, like it or not, social movements have had a huge impact on how romance readers select their next read. While I’m certain these changes aren’t permanent, I’m glad to see a shift away from generic storytelling. I’m also glad to see the romance reading community highlight the struggle for equality in the genre that Black, indigenous, and other people of color have faced for far too long. How do these movements impact the world of billionaire romances? For one, they've shown that traditional power dynamics are no longer relevant or desirable. It's no longer cool to be the domineering billionaire who demands complete control over their partner. Instead, we’re calling for mutual respect and understanding, with greater emphasis on equity and consent. For romance authors, this means reassessing their values and approaches to how they write these relationships. It's a brave new world out there, and social movements are playing a big role in shaping it.
What Makes For A Successful Billionaire Romance Today
What makes for a successful billionaire romance? It's the perfect mix of sizzling chemistry, drama, and maybe a hint of danger or suspense, all set against the backdrop of wealth and power. A successful billionaire romance doesn't just rely on a wealthy hero and a beautiful damsel in distress. It needs characters with depth, compelling backstories, and relatable struggles. Readers need to believe in the love story and the obstacles that the couple face together. A good billionaire romance will transport you to a world of glamour and luxury, but it will also tug at your heartstrings and leave you rooting for the couple to overcome all odds.
This new breed of billionaire romances feature five key elements that make them stand out from their predecessors:
1. A Wealthy Hero Who Uses Their Riches To Good: The leading man of these stories is usually a billionaire—or perhaps even a multi-billionaire that’s not just wealthy. He uses his riches to save the day and rescue his love interest from whatever dire situation she finds herself in. Whether it's saving her from financial ruin or providing her with a life-saving medical procedure, his wealth comes in handy. Lately, I’ve seen billionaires with a desire to preserve the community or something closer to home and more relatable like affordable housing or creating and funding programs that serve underprivileged children. There is a danger of pandering here, but what I‘m pointing out is a reframing of these romances to appeal to a more progressive reader.
2. A Smart and Successful Love Interest: The love interest of these stories has become more intelligent and independent than they’ve been in the past. They usually have their own career and are sometimes either independently wealthy or working hard toward their own success. They don't need saving—they’re perfectly capable of taking care of themselves—but they need a partner who will recognize and appreciate them ambition and intelligence.
3. A Passionate Love Story: While the billionaire is often the star of these stories, it's their passionate relationship with the love interest that allows them to bridge the gap between their different worlds and form a deep connection. The heat between them should be palpable, and they shouldn’t let anything stand in the way of their romance — including as hero who leans on stereotypical depictions of these characters.
4. Social Consciousness: These stories are about more than just love. Lately they also address important social issues, such as classism, privilege, and inequality. The hero often finds himself faced with difficult decisions when it comes to using his wealth and power for good, and he learns important lessons along the way. Some folks complain about this element, but when done well, it can add a level of connectivity between the reader and the characters.
5. Give us a twist! Some authors are taking risks with the typical story by adding elements of suspense, humor, and dark themes. Romantic comedies are popular again (true romantic comedies, not just stories with brightly colored covers), while mafia and dark romance have made the alpha male into an antihero. Yup. Dark romance is just billionaire romance with a gun, in my opinion. There are still a lot of levels to explore there, of course and maybe I’ll write about that sometime, as well
So to answer the question, are we over billionaire romances?
Well, I don’t have a definitive answer because I know there’s probably an author out there writing the book that will undoubtedly prove me wrong. However, I do think we’re over the old school billionaire romances that lean heavily on the trope without recognizing the importance of developing the character outside of the opulence.
🤔What do you think, readers? Are you over billionaire romances? Have you read one recently that challenged the usual expectations? Authors, are you writing or have you written a billionaire romance that turns the subgenre on its ear? What do you think will replace it?