Mac, one of the two love interests in, Better Off, is a millionaire. Not, as he points out to Hailey, a billionaire. He doesn’t have save-the-world money, but he definitely has make-your-world-a-better-place money.
By the end of the book, Mac’s money has indeed made Hailey’s world a better place, which I think is why so many of us enjoy the billionaire trope. We like to imagine someone coming along and doing for us everything we can’t afford to do ourselves.
On the other hand, marrying for money isn’t romantic. The money should be an unexpected bonus, not the primary point, and the richer partner needs to gain something from the relationship that’s worth more what he’s giving. Otherwise it’s not love.
Here are a few of my favorite examples of the billionaire trope done right.
Spellbound by Allie Therin
This magical book set in 1920s New York features one ragamuffin, one rich politician’s son, and a great cast of supporting characters as Arthur, Rory, and some psychometrics buddies use their special abilities to save New York from imminent disaster.
Arthur is a Batman/James Bond archetype—not just rich, but urbane, polished, handsome, and socially conscious. It’s hard to see what he could be missing, but what he’s missing is what romance novels are all about: that one special someone.
And in the end, of course, it’s Rory, the seemingly small and helpless, who plays the crucial role in their mission.
Rule Breaker by Lily Morton
Lily Morton knows how to do comedy, and Rule Breaker has both the billionaire trope and the boss trope going for it, with a healthy dose of enemies-to-lovers thrown in on the side.
We don’t worry about Dylan loving Gabe for his money because we’re too worried about Dylan killing Gabe altogether. And Gabe might deserve it. Gabe needs someone like Dylan to bring him down to size and love him for himself, not his millions.
If you want to see a hotshot executive get what’s coming to him and have some giggles in the bargain, this is the book for you.
Full Domain by Kindle Alexander
You’d be forgiven for not counting this as a billionaire book despite the hints dropped along the way, because the full truth isn’t revealed until near the end. U.S. Marshall Kreed and computer hacker Aaron (who’s way more than he seems) form a partnership that has nothing to do with money. It mostly has to do with a hate-crimes investigation and a bunch of hot sex.
The sex scenes are well done, and the plot will keep your attention, but what I really love about this book is the way Kreed offers everything he has to Aaron, not realizing that Aaron already has more than Kreed can imagine. Aaron is Kreed’s top priority. The money reveal, when it comes, means nothing.
The Masterpiece by Bonnie Dee
This My Fair Lady M/M retelling makes its roots obvious when a bet between two members of the nobility leads to one of them taking home a shoe-shine boy with the intention of making him into a gentleman. In the original play on which My Fair Lady is based, Eliza and Dr. Higgins don’t fall in love. Rather, Eliza marries an upper-class slacker named Freddie who she supports with her flower shop earnings. It’s definitely not a romance.
But Bonnie Dee has given us a romance in The Masterpiece. Arthur and Joe fall in love while Joe is being remade, and in the best billionaire-trope fashion, the aristocratic Arthur gets more out of their arrangement than Joe does. By the end of the book, they’re both living their dreams.
Will & Patrick Wake Up Married by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths
We know Patrick doesn’t marry Will for his money, because they get married as strangers in a blackout drunk. Besides, Patrick is a renowned surgeon. He’s not exactly hurting for money himself. But Will’s fortune does play a big role in the book, because it’s the reason they can’t get divorced.
Okay, that part of the plot is a little contrived, and like all contrived plot points, it disappears in a puff of smoke when it stops being convenient, but the book is a delight. Will and Patrick are stuck with each other while they figure out how to get divorced without losing access to the money Will uses for charitable purposes. Which makes this the longest, greatest forced-proximity book ever. Strangers become friends, then lovers, then soul mates as Will and Patrick both learn they have something to give as well as something to get.
Merge Ahead by Tanya Chris
I had to throw in a little self-love, because Merge Ahead is classic “rich guy doesn’t know what he’s missing.” Poor (rich) Adam’s life as Chief Financial Officer for a major insurance company is empty before he and Will accidentally stumble into each other. It’s clear to Adam that he’s the one getting more out of their relationship, because Will takes care of him far better than he ever took care of himself.
But Will struggles with what it means to be dating someone so much richer than he is. He loves Adam, but he doesn’t know if he can tolerate being the partner who’s “less than.” The differences in their position and wealth throw up both internal and external obstacles until Will sees for himself just how much he brings to the table.
In Better Off, Mac is quick to understand that he wants more than a fling with Hailey but slow to figure out how to make that work. It seems that in order to be with the Bohemian who lives in voluntary squalor, he’ll have to give up his own privilege and luxury. Does Mac find something in Hailey worth more than money? I think you know the answer.