On August 7, H&H asked Which Romance Billionaire Dominates the Competition? and the overwhelming response was J.D. Robb's Roarke (no first name—it's part of his mystique) from her In Death series. Although I was not one of the people who posted a response to that question, Roarke was, without a doubt, the first billionaire to sprang to mind. And I'm here to tell you why.
First, some background: The In Death series began in 1995 with Naked in Death, in which it is 2058 and we are introduced to Eve Dallas, New York City Police Lieutenant, whom we will get to know very well, and Roarke, New York City billionaire, whom Eve will get to know very well. This month, Delusion in Death, the 35th book in the series, was released. This doesn't count the nine novellas included in anthologies. As you might have noticed, we still wait anxiously for the next in the series.
So, here we go. The top ten reasons Roarke is the man:
1. He's a billionaire. I know, sort of obvious, isn't it? And it also applies to all the other contenders. But, you have to take this into consideration. There is something attractive about someone who has control of all that money and will bring you back a diamond the size of a baby's thumb from his business trip to Australia, even though you're not exactly sure you're in a relationship with the guy yet. (Glory in Death )
2. He's gorgeous. Yes. He's a romance hero and that gorgeousness goes with the territory. But, again, it's a factor. And Roarke has his own particular gorgeousness: tall, strong, black hair to his shoulders and blue eyes. In the first book, Robb describes him as “almost ridiculously handsome: the narrow, aesthetic face; the slash of cheekbones; and sculpted mouth. Yes, his hair was black, but the computer didn't say it was thick and full and swept back from a strong forehead to fall inches above broad shoulders. His eyes were blue, but the word was much too simple for the intensity of color or the power in them.” Robb frequently describes him as having the look of a fallen angel. And doesn't that just give you a vision?
3. He's Irish. Oh, that brogue! It's not heavy, but there's a whisper of it in his voice that just knocks Eve out. The brogue does become more pronounced (and Robb throws in a few “bollocks” and other Irish colloquialisms) when Roarke is angry, not to mention the occasional use of Gaelic words of love. Robb does not write dialect (thank God), but I can hear it myself when Roarke speaks and it knocks me out, too.
4. He's powerful. This goes with the billionaire thing, I suppose, but Roarke seems to add a little something extra to that. He understands what his money can do and is careful about it (particularly since meeting police lieutenant Eve Dallas). Sure, he uses it to make more money, but he knows what each one of his businesses is up to and appears to have time to have input into all of them. And if he wants to influence something (usually for the good, of course), by God, he can do it.
5. He's a geek. On top of all the other good stuff Roarke is and does, he's a technology wizard. He can do almost anything with a computer and, over the course of the series, has been informally inducted into NYPD's e-squad for the really hard cases. There is also nothing cuter than when Roarke starts to get really involved in some electronic sleuthing. You can tell he's getting serious when he sits at his keyboard and pulls his hair back, tying it with a leather thong. Yum!
6. He's ruthless. You don't go from being a Dublin street rat to one of the richest men in the world by being a nice guy. Roarke broke a lot of rules as he clawed his way out of the gutter and he is still not averse to bending a few to reach his ends. Yes, falling in love with a cop has pretty much put a stop to the law-breaking part of his method of operation, but I think he likes the challenge of being ruthless while staying on the proper side of the line.
7. He's resilient. In more ways than one. In addition to his ruthlessness, it took a great deal of resilience to bounce back from the many setbacks life handed him on his way to world domination (or at least, business-world domination). He has never backed down from a challenge, not the least of which is the wooing and winning of the prickly Eve Dallas. And… speaking of resilience, the man is a powerhouse in bed, and in the shower, and in the pool, on the floor, against the wall, and almost anywhere else he can get his hands on Eve. Oh my!
8. He's a guy. On top of all these alpha traits, Roarke is also your typical guy. I love the books that show us this side of Roarke (and of Roarke and Eve's relationship). In Imitation in Death, Roarke decides he wants to barbeque. He buys himself the kind of honking grill you would expect of a billionaire with the urge to grill. He sets in up on the patio for a trial run, during which he manages to undercook the potatoes and set fire to the steak. Eve thinks he “looked pretty cute…carrying the tray, crossing the sunny patio in his bare feet, with his hair tied back as he often did for serious work.” He's turned on by Eve in a variety of circumstances (such a guy). In the same book as the grilling episode, he sees Eve in her uniform for the first time. After looking her over, he says, “Lieutenant, you've got to wear that home.”
Roarke also has that guy cluelessness when it comes to women other than his wife. The subplot of Innocent in Death, involves a woman from Roarke's past who tries to rekindle their relationship. For most of the book, Roarke can't see it, although Eve and even Roarke's majordomo and long-time friend both warn him. This does give us the opportunity for a wonderful denouement where Eve decks both the former girlfriend and Roarke although she knows Roarke has finally realized what's going on. When he asks her why. “'Mostly?' She turned, cocked a hip. 'Because you're' a man.'” Yes he is. And we're all glad of it despite the occasional misstep.
9. He understands Eve. Eve Dallas comes with a huge set of baggage, including a rocky past in which she was dreadfully abused by her father. Roarke gets her. He recognizes and accepts her pain and her quirks and very quickly understands how to win her and how to keep her. In Naked in Death, the first book in the series, he discovers that the way to her heart is through real coffee, a rare commodity in the 2050s of the books. As he has to access real coffee (billionaire, remember? He owns a plantation.), he's not above wooing her with the stuff.
10. He loves Eve unconditionally. How can you not adore a romance hero who falls in love with a prickly policewoman and loves her despite her issues (or maybe because of them)? Throughout the series, we have watched as Roarke and Eve learned about each other. There have been some major fights, but, in the end, there is caring. Roarke has given everything he has and, more importantly everything he is, to Eve. He has held her through her nightmares, showered her with gifts (which she doesn't really want), embraced police work, picked out her clothes, had great sex, and learned to barbeque. He's our number one billionaire. If you haven't met him, pick up Naked in Death. You might fall in love, too.
Myretta is the co-founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a pretty big Jane Austen web site. She is also a writer of Historical Romance. You can find her at her website, www.myrettarobens.com and on Twitter as @Myretta.