Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lisabet Sarai

Is Money Sexy? 

By Lisabet Sarai

If you scan the blurbs for recent romance best-sellers, you might come away with the notion that billionaires make the best lovers. Even before FSOG, rich guys were popular fantasy fodder, but the number of obscenely wealthy protagonists has climbed exponentially since. My primary romance publisher, Total-E-Bound, has a whole series of “billionaire” anthologies – Bound to the Billionaire, Promoted by the Billionaire, Sharing the Billionaire, and so on – and they sell very well. Apparently many readers feel that money is sexy.

I guess I can understand this, at some level. Today's billionaire plays the same role as the fairytale prince of yesteryear. He can fulfill the heroine's (or second hero's) every desire – not just physical desires but material ones. Especially given the worldwide economic downturn, I can see how a hero who could solve your financial problems with a snap of his fingers might be very appealing.

At the same time, I've never personally cared whether a lover (or a hero) was wealthy. The whole question seems irrelevant to me (perhaps because I've always been able to support myself by my own efforts). The trend seems a bit of throwback to an earlier time when women married mostly for financial security. Furthermore, relationships between a rich individual and someone less financially advantaged are not nearly as easy as some romance novels would have you believe. There are likely to be huge gaps in values and expectations that are bound to take their emotional toll.

I grew up in a middle class environment. I'm a third generation bargain-hunter at Filene's Basement. (If you don't know what that is, Google it!) I don't care what brand of watch I wear, as long as it tells the time. I'd consider spending $500 on a pair of shoes just because they had a designer label to be a ludicrous waste of money. On the other hand, my wealthy brother-in-law, although he's no billionaire, cares deeply about things like this. They're part of his self-image. I'm not criticizing him, just highlighting the differences in our perceptions of what is important.

Given the above, you might well ask why I have contributed a story to TEB's most recent billionaire book, Bound to the Billionaire. Okay, I admit I'm hoping to cash in (so to speak!) on the billionaire craze. However, I also wanted to explore the sort of issues I've raised above. What happens when two individuals from different social worlds are drawn together? Can love indeed bridge the gulf in circumstances, expectations and ideology?

You'll find the blurb and an excerpt from my historical “billionaire” tale Challenge to Him below. It's part of the anthology Tied to the Billionaire, which also includes stories by Amy Armstrong, Sam Crescent, Tanith Davenport, Cheryl Dragon and Willa Edwards. The book is available now for pre-order at the Total-E-Bound site(, at a 15% discount. It will be released to other sites on the 16th of August.

Leave a comment, including your email address, on this post, and I'll enter you into a drawing for a $10 Total-E-Bound gift voucher – enough to cover the cost of this book or one of TEB's other great titles.

What do you think? Is money sexy?

For more information about me and the many genres in which I write, visit my website Lisabet's Fantasy Factory ( and my blog Beyond Romance (

Challenge to Him by Lisabet Sarai

BDSM historical erotic romance

All the wealth in the world can’t buy willing surrender.

Andrew MacIntyre, heir to a vast empire of railroads, mines and mills, is the second or third richest man in America, and by far the most eligible bachelor among the society folk summering in Newport, Rhode Island. His mother has filled their opulent mansion with marriageable daughters of bankers and industrialists, but Andrew knows none of these callow young women can satisfy his perverse sexual needs. No respectable girl would ever consent to being bound and beaten, to serving and obeying him the way he craves. His money gives him the freedom to purchase anything except his heart’s desire—a submissive partner to share his life.

Independent, progressive and well-educated, labour activist Olivia Alcott has dedicated herself to improving the lot of the workers who toil in the factories that have made Andrew and his class so wealthy. The strike she organises triggers a confrontation between her and the handsome billionaire. Although their disparate backgrounds and values make them natural foes, something stronger draws them to one another—an intuitive recognition of complementary fantasies.

Andrew offers Olivia a bargain— better working conditions for the mill staff, in return for a weekend of her unquestioning obedience. Olivia will help him deflect the attentions of the potential mates assembled by his mother, as well as providing more intimate services. Given Olivia’s origins, a more enduring relationship appears impossible—but Andrew is not the sort to give up something he wants.

Excerpt (rated R)

“I can’t do this, Andrew. I’m sorry.” 

Andrew and Olivia paused together atop the mezzanine stairway that led down to the Great Hall. Music filtered up, along with the swell and ebb of conversation. Although it was barely nine p.m., Catherine MacIntyre’s ball was already in full swing. Her guests had arrived earlier than they would have under normal circumstances, eager to survey the competition—and to catch a glimpse of the unorthodox house guest Andrew had invited to participate in the closely scripted rituals of the wealthy. Gossip had spread the news far and wide. Functions at Wavecrest were usually well-attended in any case, but no one wanted to miss tonight’s festivities.

“Of course you can.” He tucked her arm under his and pulled her body closer. The French perfume he’d bought surrounded her with an aura of roses, but underneath, he thought he caught a whiff of her feminine musk. “You look exquisite—the gown is perfection—and you’re far cleverer than any other girl attending. You’ll charm everyone.”

He surveyed his companion with smug approval. With its simple, elegant lines, the peacock-blue silk he’d commissioned suited her to a T. The low-cut neckline left her arms bare and exposed a generous but not improper expanse of fair skin. The fabric clung tightly to her breasts and torso, then flared out over her hips and swept to the floor in a sapphire cascade. Unlike some of the fussy fashions he’d seen, the gown had little ornamentation, aside from the ribbons that hung from the waist, draping the skirt in gleaming loops of satin. 

Diamond teardrops swung from her earlobes. A matching diamond on an almost invisible chain nestled in the hollow of her throat and a blue-dyed ostrich feather arched over her upswept, mahogany-brown curls. 

Yes, the outfit was worth every penny of the small fortune he’d paid for it. Olivia Alcott was a pearl without price.

Olivia shook her head. “They’ll know the instant they set eyes on me. I’ll die of embarrassment.”

“Nonsense. No one can tell whether you’re wearing undergarments. With your figure, you’ve no need of a corset, and it’s warm enough that your nipples are scarcely visible…” He punctuated his assertion with a tweak that made her gasp.

“Don’t!” She jerked away from him. He held her fast.

“Olivia, did you not agree to be my consort this weekend?”

“Yes—yes, sir…”

“And to obey me without question?”

“And have I not done so?” Her eyes sparkled in her flushed face and he knew she was reviewing the same glorious recollections that had him half hard in his tailored tuxedo trousers.

“Yes, yes, you’ve satisfied me in every way, my lovely slut. Tonight, though, I need you more than ever, here by my side. I must make it clear to my mother and to society at large that I am not in the market for a wife.”

“So I’m to play the role of your mistress, then?” The sharpness in her voice surprised him. He brushed his lips across her ripe ones, savouring her sweet breath. 

“What do you care what those hypocrites think of you? You’ll never see them again.”

Olivia did not answer. She peered down the stairs, into the brightly lit hall—the lion’s den. “You’re right,” she answered at last, her voice low and resigned. “It doesn’t matter at all. Let us go.”


  1. Hello, Leontii,

    Thanks so much for having me as your guest!

  2. I think that especially in harder financial times when the rich are getting rich and everyone else is stagnating, losing value, or getting poorer, financial security is becoming more attractive again. And financial security doesn't mean millionaires anymore - now it's multi-millionaires and billionaires, go figure.

    Also, a lot of readers are writers themselves, and most writers don't make a lot, if at all. So there's something attractive about the fantasy of having a spouse who can support your passion, in more ways than one.

    I think, in addition to the fantasy of having someone else be able to support it, it also reinforces the fantasy of being financially successful one's self.

    It's true that wealth doesn't buy you happiness. I, for one, value time more than money, but I'm also making nigh next to nothing at the moment, so *some* money must be nice. The security that money can bring certainly helps support finding happiness.

    Most people who aren't rich wish to be rich. I'll willing to bet most people who are rich don't wish they weren't, in spite of its problems.

    It's a worthy question, whether money is sexy and why, and one I continue to ask myself. (Including whether it should be and whether it's worth it or whether there are more worthwhile pursuits ... and how to afford them.)

    1. Hello, Aurelia,

      Thanks for such a thoughtful response. You've made a lot of good points.

      Still, the notion of having a billionaire boyfriend sets my teeth on edge a bit, since it's just a short step to *depending* on that boyfriend. I like my heroines to be able to take care of themselves. (And that's certainly true of Olivia in CHALLENGE TO HIM.)

  3. I've never been swayed by money before so I'm not so sure at the moment whether or not money is sexy and why. I suppose in certain situations and what my social status at the moment will influence my thoughts on money being sexy or not. In books when I'm reading about the MC's I do have moments where I think money could be beneficial and makes the hero look a bit more appealing for it.

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

    1. Hello, HB,

      One thing about being rich is that it implies you're competent and capable. Of course that's not true of someone who's born into money, and luck has a lot more to do with success than people admit, but still, a guy who made big bucks founding a software company may be worthy of respect for his capabilities as much as for his cash.

  4. It can be

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. Now that's a succinct comment!

      Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Hi Lisabet,
    thanks for the great post. love the question too. I don't think it's the money itself that is sexy, it's what the person with the money does with it that makes it sexy. are they selfish or generous? loving or not to their fellow human beings? I know that it may sound naïve but I believe that if God has given you the gift of prosperity you are suppose to use it to better yourself and the rest of humanity, not hoard it in selfishness. love and generosity are always sexy.

    tammy ramey

    1. Hi, Tammy,

      Thanks for dropping by. You've made a great point. With prosperity comes responsibility. Actually, that is one of the lessons Olivia tries to teach Andrew.

  6. Hi, to me money is a tool to be used to acquire items or services. I do not believe it to be sexy. It does allow certain otherwise closed doors to become open and inviting. I do not choose to enter some of those doorways as most are meant to extract the green from you in devious manners.

    1. Greetings, Dave,

      Very good points. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!

  7. Money (and wealth) are not sexy. Look at real life billionaires. Are any of them sexy? People who are overly concerned with material goods, image, and money are dull and can suck your spirit dry. I love the analogy of current day billionaires taking the place of the idealized Handsome Prince in stories! Some day my billionaire will come? He'd have to meet essential requirements in character, ad the money would be an add on item.

    1. Great points, Brenda. Your thoughts mirror my own. But then, I have enough money to get by on my own (though I am far from rich). I might feel differently if I were teetering on the edge of ruin.

  8. I've never been attracted to money (though I know I've pursued guys for less practical and equally shallow reasons, such as good looks and common musical tastes). Maybe it's because I was a child of the '80s, but I always equated extreme amounts of money with corruption and greed. Plus, so many superrich guys are just painful to look at (Donald Trump!). I do like Tammy's point that what the rich person does with the money makes him attractive or unattractive...I hadn't thought of that.

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

    1. Hello, Trix,

      Well, I am a child of the sixties and seventies, when the establishment was viewed with extreme suspicion.

      Speaking of the way rich guys look, though, I've always liked Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Airlines. He's not young, but very dashing!

  9. Well, money is not necessarily sexy but it can make things much more interesting and open up a variety of possibilities.

    Michelle aka koshkalady

    1. Hi, Michelle,

      It's true that money can pay for a lot of romantic evenings and getaways!

      Thanks for dropping by.

  10. I think the appeal lies in what, usually, money makes people become. Like for most, Rich people are snotty self entitled, inflated egotistical jerks. I think What people fine sexy about Rich people falling in love is them coming to find someone that doesn't have all that and realize that really, money brings you nothing but loneliness unless you have someone you cherish above your money by your side.
    then again, I might just be a helpless romantic but... haha.. when I read "men with money" books, that's what I look for. This Selfish bastard that thinks he can buy himself a person only to realize that falling in love is much better than getting himself a possession that will only be with him for his money. and not for the man he is.

    Thanks for the contest!

    Judi P

    1. Hi, Judi,

      Thanks for dropping by.

      There are rich jerks and poor jerks, I think. And most romance heroes aren't jerks - though I gather the hero in FSOG might fit the description.

  11. Replies
    1. Hi, Linda,

      I appreciate someone with definite opinions!

  12. Money is important to every person to acquire the basics food, shelter; or for the rich and famous whatever they choose to spend it on beyond this. The operative word is being rich the choices are very different.

    1. Hello, Marle,

      Thank you for dropping by. You're totally right - how we spend the money we have (however much that is) is what really counts.

  13. Hi everyone!

    I've drawn my winner. It's AURELIA.

    Thanks to all of you for participating. I have another contest going on right now, where you can win a pack of my print books. For details go to