8.1 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)

It is certainly possible to see a prince’s wealth as excessive, an authorisation of greed and a life of sloth. However, as Pamela Marks has argued, a desire expressed in many romances, and perhaps especially in those which contain a “prince,” is the desire not for great wealth, but for “a protector” who will act as a “shield” (11) against “the slings and arrows of the struggles of everyday life” (11-12). This is “not necessarily [...] a rich man” but it does involve salvation from “a life of cheese-paring or drudgery [...] waiting tables at a truck stop, endlessly scrubbing toilet bowls or dirty diapers or the kitchen floor of a single-wide trailer in some dreary desert town” (12). Naledi hopes to avoid this type of future through her own efforts, but in the present she is still juggling her “lab assistant job, waitressing, and grad school” (Cole 2018, 4), and with “student loan payment nudges” (3) a staple in her inbox Naledi is very aware of her precarious financial situation:

having multiple sources of income was a safety net she couldn’t live without. She didn’t have family to turn to when times got rough, and one mistake at work or school could have a domino effect on the life plans she had so carefully been setting up. (4)

When Naledi dreams of wealth, it is not an extravagant hope. She would merely like to have “enough money to make [...] purchases without triple-checking her bank account balance beforehand” (14). Perhaps to emphasise the absence of avarice or extravagance in Naledi’s hopes, the novel ends with the couple planning to live not in a vast and luxurious palace but in a New York “brownstone” and Naledi wondering “if their new home would have a washer and dryer. After all, [...] even her wildest dreams could come true” (360).

Hoping for at least a basic level of economic security is not incompatible with the spiritual life. It is a hope present in the Lord’s Prayer, for example, in which a plea for “daily bread” sits alongside requests for other, less tangible, goods. As theologian Clive Marsh has written,

material conditions do not of themselves effect salvation, but it is easy to see how a person with few possessions might hope and expect that salvation may include an improvement in their material well-being. To express it differently again: money does not make people happy but it is understandable to assume that a basic level of material well-being needs to be presupposed for openness to salvation to be made possible [...] salvation is not to be bought, but everyone—to use financial imagery—needs some kind of deposit, or ‘float’, to have the chance to flourish. (Marsh 152)

The hope for economic security expressed in romances is usually coupled with a desire for emotional security.