It's not as if he needs the royalties--but doesn't everybody want to be a novelist? Tom Perkins, at 73, is a titan of American business, even if few recognize his name. More than 30 years ago he cofounded Kleiner Perkins, Silicon Valley's nonpareil venture-capital firm that bankrolled Google, Amazon and other legends. He's also the ex-HP board member recently brought back to help ax Carly Fiorina. Along the way, he's made himself very rich.

Which is why a TV reality-show producer contacted him to star in a proposed "How to Marry a Billionaire!" The 2003 pitch letter offered him the "incredible opportunity" to have prospective brides compete for his affections. Who wouldn't want to be "pampered by the most attractive, sexy young women he will ever have laid eyes on"? Well, Perkins. He thought it was ridiculous.

Instead, he outlined a sendup for romance novelist Danielle Steel to write. She was a family friend, and for a year or so in the late '90s he was Steel husband No. 5. She concluded that the novel could be written only by a man. So he did, and sent it off to Rupert Murdoch, whom he knew from years of serving on the News Corp. board. Murdoch gave it to his celebrated editor Judith Regan. This Christmas comes "Lions Need Love Too," the story of a Wall Street mogul in search of love. Perkins says the book is no roman a clef--"just a good story." Too bad. PERI loved the sex scenes.