Finding the Balance Between Reality and Fantasy: Part 1 by Dani Collins

We have author Dani Collins this week talking about "Finding Balance Between Reality and Fantasy". She also has a new book out this month, Untouched Until Her Ultra-Rich Husband

Award-winning and USA Today Bestselling author Dani Collins thrives on giving readers emotional, compelling, heart-soaring romance with some laughter and heat thrown in, just like real life. Mostly she writes contemporary romance for Harlequin Presents and Tule’s Montana Born, but her backlist of fifty books also includes self-published erotic romance, romantic comedy, and even an epic medieval fantasy. When she’s not writing—just kidding, she’s always writing. Look for Dani’s latest Presents, Untouched Until Her Ultra-Rich Husband, out now!

Dani Collins on the web:

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Finding the Balance Between Reality and Fantasy: Part 1

One of the most common criticisms of the romance genre is that it’s not ‘realistic.’ I take issue with this because I work really hard to make my characters relatable and ‘real.’

At the same time, with Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon Modern, the whole point is to sweep the reader into a world of glamor and luxury. In my latest book, Untouched Until Her Ultra-Rich Husband, I was asked to take those touches of wealth into the stratosphere, which ran the risk of being cartoonish.

Today I’ll share some tips on how I build the fantasy world of obscene wealth (when I don’t actually live one myself) yet ensure my characters feel like someone the reader wants to be friends with.

Part 2 of this 2 part post will be on Learning to Write here.

1)      Explain where the money came from

I write a lot of billionaires and always try to explain whether they’re self-made or inherited and how they feel about their money. If it was hard-earned, are they possessive or do they take an attitude of ‘it comes and goes’? If it was family money, do they struggle under the weight of responsibility? This rounds out the hero’s character and helps the reader relate to him. He’s not a ‘billionaire.’ He’s a man who happens to possess disgusting amounts of money.

2)      Google that life!

I’m often asked how much research I do and I always say I don’t do a lot, but when I consider how often I pop online to look up ‘most-expensive whiskey’ or ‘designer shoes’ or ‘blue sapphire engagement rings’ then I probably research about an hour a day. (Pro-Tip, make a Pinterest board so you can refer to those images again during revisions.)

When adding the high-end touches to my books, I again try to make the choices personal. Nearly all my heroines wind up with jewelry and a ballgown, but I’m fussy about the details. Same goes if I give my hero a car. And I always consider how my characters feel about things.

Here’s an excerpt from Untouched Until Her Ultra-Rich Husband that demonstrates what I think is a very practical, realistic state of mind on Gabriel’s part, despite the luxury that surrounds him:

Gabriel glanced at the square face of his gold Girard-Perregaux and calculated the approximate time until he would land.
Such affectations as vintage watches and Valentino briefcases meant nothing to him, but appearances mattered to everyone else. He always played to win, even at “who wears it best?” so he ordered hand-sewn suits in rare wools like vicuña and qiviut. He had his leather shoes lined with the softest materials when they were custom cobbled in Italy. He hung all of it off a body that he ruthlessly kept in peak athletic condition.
He wore sunscreen and moisturized.
And he genuinely didn’t care that folding his grandmother’s net worth into his own would tip him into the exalted echelon of world’s first trillionaire. All it meant, quite inconveniently, was more work—yet another thing he didn’t need.

As you can see, keeping the reader believing the story—no matter how outlandish it might be—comes down to showing character reactions and making those reactions relatable. The reader doesn’t need to believe the world is real, only that the people within it are actually a lot like herself.

FUN FACT: Ironically, Luli was inspired by a real person. While my son was at school learning computer programming, he mentioned his classmate named Luli. I liked her name so much, I stole it for my heroine (with her permission.)

Untouched Until Her Ultra-Rich Husband

The only woman to challenge him…

…is the only woman he’ll marry!

Multibillionaire Gabriel Dean is so outrageously wealthy that when computer genius Luli Cruz uses her skills to hold his inheritance to ransom, her audacity simply amuses him! Innocent Luli needs Gabriel’s help to avoid destitution. Gabriel’s solution? He’ll secure both their futures by marrying her! But sweeping wide-eyed Luli into his luxurious world, Gabriel discovers the chemistry with his untouched wife is priceless

Welcome to the exclusive world of the ultra-rich…

Buy on:

Amazon Aust           Amazon UK


  1. It's kinda like writing fantasy as it's so out there for us. But there's nothing wrong with that. As readers, many of us want to be swept away into a world we don't live in. Our world is bleak enough most days...

    1. Exactly! When I first began reading romance, I loved visiting exotic places while also feeling 'safe' that nothing truly bad would happen and everything would work out in the end. I *adore* romance for all these reasons and that's why I wanted to write it.

  2. Interesting interview and the book sounds good!

  3. I like that she is inspired by a real person. The covers are great.

    1. Thank you, although I can't take credit for the covers. That's all the brilliant team over at Harlequin Mills & Boon.
      And I only met the real Luli briefly, but she was absolutely loved. :)

  4. I write pretty much all the time, too. :) Be well!

  5. Dani's books are always fun and well-written! Great stories!!
    Love the name Luli!

  6. Thank you Nas, I have never read any of her books but they will go on my list now.

  7. One of my favorite quotes about great wealth came from Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Having more money doesn't make you happier. I have 50 million dollars, but I'm just as happy as when I had 48 million."

    I never aspired to having a lot of money, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be fun to take a peek inside their world. Your new book sounds very intriguing.

    1. Haha! Thank you, Susan and I agree. I love the idea of winning the lotto for the excitement of living like one of my characters for a while. Sadly, my husband would make us do something sensible like invest it. *sigh*

  8. she sound a good writer.....I should read her book

    1. I hope you enjoy it if you do, Tanza. Thank you!

  9. Replies
    1. Hi Armchair Squid. (Not your real name? ;) Thank you!

  10. Great guest post. It sounds like Dani is a prolific writer. I must check out her medieval fantasy novel.

    1. thank you Tracy, I hope you enjoy it. It's called THE HEALER.

  11. I can imagine with the high end items you are Googling that you must get the most interesting ads/items offered to you- as the computer probably thinks you have expensive tastes. :) Wishing you all the best, Dani!

  12. I guess the unrealistic factor is one of my complaints about Romance novels. Things like that just don't happen in real life. It must be a challenge to write believable stories!

  13. I think it's often the details which make a story believable.

  14. Thank you for this introduction. Neither books nor an author I'm familiar with. I shall have to mention Dani to my sister in law and friend who are big fans of this genre.

  15. What I love is that even in the details, you still have a character that is timeless. It's not just that one designer watch or car that was popular in 2017 when you were writing the book, it's the whole brand.

    Of course, I do wonder how relatable these types of stores are for true billionaires/trillionaires. I think it may be easier to pass of the illusion to those without wealth who are only guessing at how the ultra wealthy live than it might be to pass it off on someone who is truly wealthy and knows it. (But, then again, how many people know or actually believe, they are truly wealthy? Hmm… Food for thought.)

    With Love,


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