by Angelina M. Lopez, author of Lush Money
I have always written strong female characters. As an oldest child, a Virgo, the only woman in a household of men, and the granddaughter of two oldest daughters—one who was an ER nurse with her pilot’s license, the other who went from cleaning houses to being a top drug-and-alcohol counselor—I kind of can’t help myself.
The heroine for my debut contemporary romance, Lush Money, is a self-made billionaire Latinx businesswoman. While strong heroines are my bag, coming up with her was a lucky lightning strike. And writing her was a bit of a mea culpa.
During Christmas break of 2015, I was scrolling through romance books and thought I saw one titled The Billionaire’s Prince. “What’s that?” I thought. “That must be a male/male romance.” In an instant, I realized what I’d done. Me—a lifelong feminist—assumed the billionaire had to be a man. That was the lightning strike: What if the billionaire was a woman? (BTW, the book I saw was called The Billionaire’s PRICE with weird font.)
To make the proper amends to all the feminist gods I’d insulted by assuming a rich, powerful person had to be a man, I needed to do more than create a stereotypical billionaire with lady bits. How would a woman with all that power and self-determination move in the world? What would her desires be? What could she still want when she could buy everything?
They are questions I had to stop and consider a lot while writing. Her decisions and goals didn’t come intuitively to me, a writer-mom living in the suburbs. We’re accustomed to reading (and writing) female characters who bend to the needs of those around them. We value that—the mom who takes care of us, the girlfriend who makes sure everyone is okay. Women as caretakers has been an evolutionary imperative. But we’re not in the Stone Age anymore and my heroine, Roxanne Medina, didn’t have to heed that call.
Roxanne Medina, CEO of Medina Now Enterprises, a multinational corporation focused on buying and investing in woman-owned businesses, wants what she wants because she’s earned the right. She’s a moral person who’s used her brains, burgeoning power and ultimate success for good, and she sees nothing wrong with contracting a prince for a marriage of convenience and sex three times a month for a year. It’s an exchange of equally valued items—she gets a royal baby, he gets enough money to save his impoverished kingdom.
What were the guidelines I used to write a strong, alpha heroine who was different than those dominant billionaire alpha-holes from years past?
Alpha heroines don’t make themselves small for anyone. They are proud of the space they occupy and believe in their need to be there. They do take care of others—Roxanne Medina regularly wakes up with night sweats because of the thousands of employees who depend on her leadership—but they can’t do that without embracing their own value.
Alpha heroines do change and adjust—there wouldn’t be much of a romance story if they didn’t! But as they evolve and change because of their relationships, they respect their own needs and wants along with their partners’. Roxanne makes a decision to allow Príncipe Mateo de Esperanza y Santos into her heart, and that decision acknowledged her needs as well as his. The fact that Mateo is hot, smart, kind, funny and REALLY good in bed—those were all factors in her decision-making process!! 😉
Being powerful does not make her perfect. Alpha heroines still have vulnerabilities, and the chinks in her armor are what make her sympathetic, relatable and a lot of fun to write. When Roxanne Medina is so stunned by her first glance at her prince that she stumbles in her Manolo Blahniks, it was one of my favorite moments in the book!
I loved writing my armor-clad alpha heroine with a squishy center. I hope you enjoy reading her!
About Lush Money:
A marriage of convenience and three nights a month.
That’s all the sultry, self-made billionaire wants from the impoverished prince.
And at the end of the year, she’ll grant him his divorce…with a settlement large enough to save his beloved kingdom.
As a Latinx woman, Roxanne Medina has conquered small-town bullies, Ivy League snobs and boardrooms full of men. She’s earned the right to mother a princess and feel a little less lonely at the top. The offer she’s made is more than generous, and when the contract’s fulfilled, they’ll both walk away with everything they’ve ever wanted.
Príncipe Mateo Ferdinand Juan Carlos de Esperanza y Santos is one of the top winegrowers in the world, and he’s not marrying and having a baby with a stranger. Even if the millions she’s offering could save his once-legendary wine-producing principality.
But the successful, single-minded beauty uses a weapon prince Mateo hadn’t counted on: his own desire.