Lush Money is a very promising debut from an author I’m looking forward to seeing more from. Recently, I’ve been drawn to low drama romances with characters whose lives are imaginable. Lush Money is high drama and features a self made billionaire and the heir to a small European Kingdom. I loved it.
Roxanne Medina is a self made billionaire. She wants a child, wants the child to have a father, but doesn’t want to put in the effort a romance would require. Mateo Esperanza is the heir to the throne of a small Kingdom next to, or possibly surrounded by Spain, Monte del Vino Real. His tiny kingdom is known for it’s wine, but has been hit hard by bad management, an indifferent king, the demand for wines from France and California, and the looming danger of Climate Change. Mateo thinks he can save the country by developing a new wine stalk that will survive the changing climate and produce a high quality wine grape. His father wants to turn half the country over to a Disney like company that will turn it into a theme park, or in the alternative, sell his son to a billionaire who wants a baby and wants her baby to be in line for a throne. The two sign a contract to have sex three nights a month for a year at the end of which Mateo will get a huge amount of money to save his kingdom and hopefully Roxanne will be pregnant.
Roxanne and Mateo have a bad beginning. In fact, the first couple of times they have sex, the consent is dubious at best. Some people will be put off by the cold, angry sex they initially have, but if you move past that, they start to become real people to each other. Their feelings for each other are expressed through sex and lovemaking long before they are willing to say words to each other. Even at their worst, Lopez imbues them humanity and good intentions. You know you aren’t rooting for monsters even when they do damage to each other. The odd situation they’ve put themselves in and the continuing machinations of Mateo’s awful, awful father drive them to become partners and then friends, and then true lovers. So many things about this book could have gone horribly wrong, but they don’t because Lopez is a very good writer. Roxanne and Mateo are wonderful characters, surrounded by some wonderful side characters and some awful, narcissistic antagonists. I can’t wait to see what comes next. I really hope Lopez has plans for at least four of the side characters.
I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.