Bear-Billionaire & Other Whack Trends in Romance

By Madeline Iva

Billion-BearI was out with a successful romance writing friend on a Friday night. (You know who you are–leave a comment below if you want to identify yourself) She was on a rampageous tear about BILLION-BEAR, a romance by Luna Noir (Luna Noir is also a popular name for a lot of sex toys out there, google the name and see for yourself).

Which is maybe different from BEAR-LLIONAIRE – by Terry Bolryder (Terry Bullrider?) Which may still be different still from the specific book my friend actually mentioned that reached up into the small digits (52? 152?) on Amazon recently.

It became the punchline to her every joke, until she was just saying it randomly, like an absurdist koan.

Should we take a right at the light?

Bear Billionaire.

Terry Bolryder
This is really the best of the bear-billionaire covers, IMHO.

Think we should leave a bigger tip?
I don’t know. WWBB, Madeline.

(What would bear billionaire do? Leave a bigger tip, obviously.)

I thought Outlander was bad—time traveling, historical, Scottish highland, romance adventure novel that it is, but no, here’s a –wait for it — Bear billionaire bbw paranormal werebear shifter erotic romance.

That’s just so specific. So very specific. And there’s pages and pages and pages of it on Amazon to scroll through. Obviously people love this stuff. Why? Why? Why?

People. This is why romances writers are looked down upon.  Do we care? Yes, we care.

No, I don’t really care. Until you say that writing romances is anti-feminist. Them’s fightin’ words, missy.

These bear billionaire authors—they’re probably laughing all the way to the bank.

And Is it wrong that I love it in a post-ironic-over-the-top-cray-cray sort of way?

And why is it always bbw?

Click to buy. I dare ya.

Rachel Kramer Bussel says bbw is a sort of lewd term.  I did not know that. Well, if she says it is I believe her, because she is an editor of sexy anthologies who knows her erotica terms cold.  Maybe it’s lewd because it’s only ever used in terms of sex–never in terms of anything else.  Like MILF. But ladies, I get so very bored with the term ‘curvy’. Rubenesque? Bleh. I like the idea of a curvy woman acronym – so let’s make up our own.

How about Uber-curvy Hottie? Example: “I love Nigella Lawson, she’s such a UCH.”

I have more questions.

Are these bear billionaire books bbw because the idea is that the bbw heroine is too big herself for a more lithe shifter mate?

The best part about this book? It's menage.
The best part about this book? It’s menage.

Another question: in gay porn/romance/culture they talk about bears and cubs by which they usually mean big hairy guys. Is bearllionaire big i.e. large and strapping? Is he burly? Or is he big as in fat? Or big as in big hairy biker, like some guy (not Charlie) from Sons of Anarchy? Is this trend the beginning of a fat-acceptance phase in romance-land?

Probably not.  There is a consistent branding with these books, and that is a headless beefy guy’s six pack torso, shaved.  Over and over again.  Me, I’d think a bear shifter guy would bring back the whole hairy chest thing.  Guess not.  Chest hair obscures the view of the six pack–which you can only get by having minimal body fat.  There goes the whole fat-acceptance idea. Sigh.

So what will the next incarnation of this hot trend become? The body builder bear billionaire books? Say that six times fast.

What was the first bear billionaire book written? And who wrote it? I mean, you’ve got a lot of billionaire books, of course, and you’ve got a lot of bear shifter books, naturally–but who was the smarty pants who first put them together?

MatedAnd how many bear billionaire books are there out there that are not just paranormal, shifter erotic romance but bear billionaire, paranormal werebear shifter erotic romance AND bear billionaire BBW paranormal werebear shifter erotic romance to boot? I mean, in terms of romance, come on, this category is the complete package.

Seems like a lot of them have been published in a mad flurry this year–as my friend noted. The earliest that I found was published at the end of December, 2014.  And what’s the next trend that will spring from the loins of this one?

MATED BY THE WEALTHY WOLF? I don’t know, my peeps, it’s a little vague isn’t it? I just don’t see it going the distance.

MILLIONAIRE MEERKAT? OMG, I just about died laughing. I think I peed myself. Have you tried reading THE TIGER TYCOON? It’s a new Harlequin line and for some reason, the tiger is always Greek. Just kidding.

TAKEN BY MY BEAR STEPBROTHER?  Okay, now stop it. That’s a half step away from dino porn. Bet ya didn’t think THAT was a real thing either.

When you’re done laughing, you can be our little boo-bear by following us here at

stepbrother bear




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  • Post authoradrianaanders

    I’m seeing a Bear v Dino, a la Alien v Predator. Oh, and they’re all stepbrothers, of course.

    Reply to adrianaanders
  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    Of course! Carey Heywood at the Virginia Festival of the Book/#VALoveFest was exclaiming over this whole stepbrother phenom in erotic romance. Wondering if one of the Lady Smut gals is going to step up and tackle that topic.

    Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Post authorCmdrSue

    It’s Bearllionaire that I stumbled across first. I shared it on Twitter sarcastically and it created a lot of conversation. That’s when [name redacted] noticed it was something like 450 out of all books selling on Amazon. Later someone complained to me that since they followed my link Amazon was pushing more bear-shifter stuff at them. I was so entertained by the title Furbidden that I looked it up. It was definitely in the Top 100 (can’t remember quite what number, but it’s still as high as 256 this second). It puts you back on your heels, ya know? Why is bear-shifter romance so popular? What am I missing?

    To be clear, my life is an absurdist koan. I like that.

    Meanwhile, this week someone dropped me a link to a Hedgehog shifter romance. At that point we started asking what HASN’T been made into a romance/erotica book. As I’ve seen books featuring cellphones and computer cables, it seems like the answer is “not much.” Although the email from a friend earlier with the suggested title “Connecting with Sasquatch on LinkedIn Made Me Gay” might be at least a little fresh.

    And full disclosure, I know people who publish stuff like Gay Dinosaur Billionaire Adventures with Bigfoot and Friends!, so it’s possible my opinion on all these things should be suspect.

    Reply to CmdrSue
    • Post authorMadeline Iva

      See–this is what I love about romance! Who woulda thunk that we’d be one of the most adventurous genres out there? And yet at the same time — historicals always sell and never will stop selling. It’s old, it’s new — it’s totally whack. I LURV romance and the romance writers for just this very reason.

      Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Post authorSkye Warren (@skye_warren)

    I enjoy the occasional shifter book. Having read my share, I think the reasons people like them are probably as complex as the reasons we like any book, as complex as the readers themselves. While these authors may have successfully found keywords that work, I don’t think that in any way diminishes their books. We are all writing the best stories we can and marketing them as best we can. If they’re hitting 49 on Amazon overall, they’re clearly doing well at both.

    Reply to Skye Warren (@skye_warren)
    • Post authorMadeline Iva

      Oh yes! I’m laughing with delight as much as I’m shaking my head as this sudden rise of success. A part of me also kinda wants to reverse engineer this whole genre to think about the reader at the other end of this really specific genre/key word string. What does she want from a romance? I’ve never been a fan of ken dolls, and so I’m kind of wondering — is this werebear guy a little sloppy? Does he have love handles? I like romances that are outside the box a little. But you’re right — the reasons people like them are probably very complex. I personally like shifter books too–it’s the billionaire stuff that never rang my bells. At all. Ever. I also like having a sense of humor about romance–but hey, when it’s your livelihood and paycheck it’s serious too. By the way, Skye — saw your post at wonk-o-mance went to your website and just wanted to read everything you’d written there.

      Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Post authorKayla Lords

    OMG, I never considered that the bears weren’t big and hairy! The covers, though…yeah, WOW. I wonder how much better they’d sell if they put a big hairy chested, bearded man on the cover? I mean, rawr, I might read it just for that.

    Yeah, the genres can get really specific, but someone’s buying it, amIright? Wow.

    Reply to Kayla Lords
  • Post authorCara Bristol

    I continue to be astounded by what sells.

    Reply to Cara Bristol
  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    I personally have never ever been a fan of hairy chests — like where the hair is really springing and stands out an inch or two from the chest — blerg. But hairy chests where the hair lays flat to the chest–nice. And I really like the shaved hairy chested look. Very nice! And if you’re not going to go with a hairy chest with a werebear shifter then when are you?????

    Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    I’m so speechless over this post that I can hardly think how to comment. The truth is, I find it a teeny bit depressing. As writers we work hard on our craft, and the writing in romances as a whole has gotten better. Thus we deservedly can make claims for being taken more seriously as writers. And then bear billionaire comes along. (sigh).

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
    • Post authorMadeline Iva

      Well, but a lot of us write for different reasons. Some write for the fantasy. Their quest is to create the most specific perfect fantasy ever. That’s not to say they don’t take pride in what they do. Some people write for a fast buck — and as someone chronically in need of a fast buck I get that too.

      Reply to Madeline Iva
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