Relationships: Is Less Sometimes More?

I read a lot. And by a lot, I mean A LOT… I read a wide variety of books, and am usually pretty happy with almost everything I pick up. However, the menage trend in so many erotica and romance books is really starting to grate on my nervous system. It’s my newest book beef and it’s driving me absolutely bonkers!

Many of the authors that I LOVE LOVE LOVE, that are on my auto-buy list, have written books with menage HEA’s: Maya Banks, Lorelei James, Lauren Dane, Vivian Arend, Inez Kelley… the list goes on. I love these authors, I buy their books, I treasure their books, but the moment I read about Jack and Jill and James all having their fairy tale together, I start loosing faith.

Now, I will admit that it is a LITTLE bit easier for me to read about threesome relationships in an alternative world setting (emphasis on little). When it’s a sci-fi romance and the characters are from another world where the menage practice is accepted, or even the norm, it’s much easier for me to suspend my brain and think: Okay… it might work for them. And in those cases, that aspect of the book doesn’t turn out being like nails down the chalkboard for me.

However, in a contemporary romance setting my brain just whirls and whizzes with endless amounts of WTFery at the thought of three people successfully being in a relationship. Maybe I’m too much of a jealous wench to believe that anyone else would be willing to share with two people. I know that I would NEVER be willing to share anything about the private aspects of my relationship with my husband. There is just something about the whole sub-genre that rubs me the wrong way.

The ‘one time experiment’ between lovers is one thing. While it’s not my cuppa, I can still understand it, accept in, even enjoy reading it in some circumstances. But when the relationship has an HEA between three main characters, I just can’t fathom how that all works. I’ve never met anyone who was able to make it work; granted my small circle of acquaintances is just that: small. But the thought of the triad walking off into the sunset just doesn’t do it for me.

For example: You all know what a fan girl I am of Lorelei James. She writes a TON of fabulous erotica books, and many of them have the occasional threesome. I’ll admit that the books without any menage action tend to be my favorites: Cowgirl Up and Ride and Tied Up, Tied Down are my top two! Her book with the menage HEA, Rough, Raw and Ready was my least favorite in the series. Maybe it was because we had met the leading characters at different times in their lives, but I honestly felt as if it was unfair for Edgar, who was admittedly gay to be placed in with Trevor and Chassie. It felt hollow and emotionless.

The most recent book that had me screaming was Lauren Dane’s Laid Bare. I had picked up and put down that book twice before finally pushing myself to just finish it. I was told by a few people that it was one of the best menage books ever written. Unfortunately I just couldn’t agree. Dane did such an amazing job in the first half of developing the relationship between Erin and Todd that when she introduced Ben into their relationship I was pissed. How dare he infringe on what they had? It was beautiful and sexy and intimate for the TWO of them. Now, I’ll admit that I’m glad I read the book because it did give me a great backdrop for the remaining books in the series, but I can’t look back on that reading experience without a bitter taste in my mouth.

I can’t even bring myself to read Maya Bank’s Colter’s Woman, despite having heard wonderful things about the other books in the series. Maybe it’s the fact that the men are all related to each other that has me staying at least 10ft away?  While menage relationships have me lifting my brow to the sky; menage relationships with multiple (as in 3+) partners that include brothers, cousins or relatives is really disconcerting to me. It’s especially difficult for me to read the book if it’s being marketed to me as a romance book. I *personally* don’t see anything romantic in sharing a bed with 2+ people. If the book is being marketed as erotica, and I’m not going in expecting a great love story, the trio can be somewhat easier to accept, but not by much.

So what about you? What are your thoughts on menage relationships and happily ever afters? Do you like when three people can get their HEA together, or do you have problems with it as well?

26 thoughts on “Relationships: Is Less Sometimes More?”

  1. Perhaps that is one reason why I stay away from erotica, I just do not want the whole triangle. Ok it’s hot (as long as they are not related) but I just can’t see it work for the rest of their life. And especially not when there is boy + girl who are in love, in comes boy who loves boy but still falls for girl, whatever

  2. @blodeuedd – Yea, it’s really hard for an author to make it believable for me. And honestly, sometimes it’s not super hot. When it becomes very clinical part a goes into part b which links to part c…. *yawn*

  3. I don’t get it either sometimes. I think the threesome works in some books and not always with others. I tend to think of them as an escape book because not many of them are like real life. I don’t like the brothers sharing the same girl too.
    One of better ones I read was the relunctant Dom but there aren’t too many that I get excited to read.

    Just some of my thoughts

  4. @Julie – Yes, they are definitely escape books! I’ve read The Reluctant Dom, and I liked that one better than most, mainly because it was a permanent menage relationship. I cried like a baby, but I enjoyed the book as a whole.

  5. I like a good menage story. I don’t always get the permanent HEA but I can by a HEAFN. I agree, the sibling thing squicks me a bit…I mean I couldn’t imagine being naked and in bed with a dude and my sister. Eeeewwww! It would be nice if everyone wasn’t trying to write that right now, but it seems to be popular, and I admit I am able to suspend belife for the most part.

  6. Not into the menage thing either. I think that’s why I tend to stay away from erotica nowadays. I use to read a lot of Zane, The Sex Chronicles and such. Until I started noticing many of the stories were menage based or with other women and frankly, that just ain’t my thing. Since I like men I tend to gravitate to and like the traditional love story so I stick with the romances and chick lit. But hey, I’m sure there must be some people out there eating it up. But I’m with you, a trio relationship lasting is not very realistic. There is nearly always dissension.

  7. @Sorcha – I think I just threw up a little at the thought of my sister and I and… *gag* Need brain bleach!!!

    @Jade – I’ve actually not found as many F/F/M stories as I have M/F/M or M/M/F stories. But I suppose since women do the majority of reading that makes a lot of sense. Either way I’m with you, give me a man and a woman, sweet or steamy and I am there!

  8. In the last year I’ve friended a polyamorous family: him and two hers. Prior to them, while I enjoyed reading/writing menage, I never knew *for certain* that type of relationship could work in the real world. Let me tell you, from what I can see of this family, it works and works well. It’s definitely restored my faith in the contemporary menage. Not saying that it’s for everyone, but there are people out there living it quite happily.

  9. @Dee – That is very cool. And like I said, I’m sure there are some people out there, I just have yet to meet one. But yes, it unfortunately isn’t for everyone.

  10. I agree a fun experiment, paranormal, or a Dom scenario in books are fun & interesting once in a while. It just seems like anymore they are getting away from a meaningful relationship, even in a menage scenario and more into just a sexual one and while that’s fun and sometimes yummy to read. I like a story I can relate to more or that will have a lasting relationship. Like you said to each his own…. Except I got to agree with Sorcha eww no siblings!

  11. When I first started reading erotic romance, the menages didn’t bother me, but after awhile, the more I thought about the mechanics of it, they just started to squick me out. These days, I’m somewhat okay with it as a one-time thing, but I just can’t see it as a permanent arrangement. I don’t tend to believe those HEAs so the books that have permanent menages don’t satisfy me. Lorelei James is my one exception – I’m always happy to read her books even with the menage action.

  12. @Jessika – It is very hard for most authors to pull off meaningful between three people, and I think that is where the whole thing usually falls apart. And yea… the siblings thing. ICK!

    @JenM- Come to think of it, I was a little more tolerant of it as well when I first started reading erotica. I’ve only recently become more of a critic of it. *shrug* And yes, LJ is AMAZING. I don’t know if there is anything she CAN’T pull off!

  13. I’ve been dying to talk to someone who has read all of the Laid Bare series books! It was the first time I’d read a committed menage HEA – I’d read the Amazon reviews about how Ben seemed inserted in the relationship – and I understood that … what cemented it for me – fascinated me in fact, was watching how the relationship played out over the course of ALL the books. Ben dealing with his family, the fact that they did have to face real life opposition, not just oh, we’re doing this and the world be damned. And the heroine had SUCH a compelling backstory that this all worked for me – IN FICTION. In reality? I don’t share well. LOL. I did read the Coulter books and yeah the brother part was a little … weird – but somehow she made it work for me too. I liked the next Coulter books with their sons – and how shocked they all were when it happened to them. They just never believed in it for more than their own parents. Intriguing. But FICTION! LOL.

  14. I used to be a big reader of menages, but these days I very much avoid them because they have been so overdone, and to me, they are all now very predictable. With so many, I’ve found it hard to believe in the HEA where everyone lives happily ever after and it’s all hunky dory.

  15. @Carly – I’ll admit I was very intrigued reading all the Brown sibling books in HOW Dane had the menage couple struggle. I was glad that they had to fight for their relationship, loose loved ones, and really go through hell to be together. That, for me, is realistic. It’s believable. It’s enjoyable to read. (As you said) In fiction! LOL

    @Lou – Exactly!!

  16. There’s a difference between polyagamy and menage. Many polygamists say they sleep with one partner at a time. A menage is multiple partners havening sex together.

    I don’t mind reading books about menage arrangements, but in real life, someone must feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick, which in Laid Bare is an issue for Ben and is sort of addressed. Books with menages of 4+ do make me go: where is this one and how does that work? doesn’t that mean he/she is squashed? In other words, I don’t focus on the story, so not good.

    I read Colter’s Woman and Lora leigh’s Men of August series, both having 3 brothers sharing a woman (CW) or women (MOA). There’s no real reason in CW other than their dads did it. In MOA there’s was sexually and physical abuse done to the brothers which supposedly means the only way the brothers can feel love for each other is through the woman (even though a woman played no part nor was a victim in the abuse). I gotta say WTF?!? What a load of crap. I still enjoyed the series, but I’d love to read a real review by a trained psychologist.

  17. I read another menage w/brothers b/c one brother was abused and afraid of intimacy … not sure I ever made connection to why menage helped though.

    interesting on polygamy versus menage – and in some books m/m have moments, like Laid Bare, and in others, it’s only the woman who brings them together.

  18. @Anne – Interesting distinction between polyagamy and menage. I agree, with them are too many people in the bedroom, my brain goes on overload and I can’t quite figure out who goes where and it turns into a science experiment instead of enjoyment.

    @Carly – It’s the stories where the menage is a total left field option that throw me the most. TO ME, it doesn’t seem normal for a couple in a committed relationship to say “Hey, let’s throw a third person into this shindig!” O_o

  19. Oh this is great. I haven’t read any erotica by anyone …well ummm…unless we are counting LKH…soooo where do I start? I, like everyone else, likes a great story first and all the extra bits second. I know the menage thing with a family member would make me squeemy but the others..hmmm..I guess I need to read to find out. 😀

  20. @Colleen – If you are looking for the all encompassing erotica experience, I say you should read Lorelei James’ Rough Riders Series. She does everything from menage to light BDSM to light m/m. Plus, she writes about sexy cowboys… Kinda hard to go wrong there.

  21. this topic.

    Funny that you mention sci-fi menage works a little better for you – that has never worked for me. I have no idea why…but any erotic sci-fi pretty much doesn’t work for me. We can get into that discussion on another day ;p

    For some reason, a M/M/F or M/M/M menage works better for me – or maybe I should say, I enjoy reading them more. This is probably because I enjoy M/M and when a girl somehow finds her way into a M/M relationship this intrigues me and I like to learn their dynamics. But I’m very picky. Off the top of my head, Beyond Eden by Kele Moon worked for me – I know there are more but I can’t think of them at the moment.

    Would menage work better if there were only HFN instead of HEA? I think so. But I think that about a lot of books 🙂

    I also think what needs to be explored are the family and friend’s reaction to a permanent menage. Because these relationships are very much in the minority – and I can’t stand it in books when every single family member or friend is pro-menage. That is just not realistic.

  22. @Mandi- I’m not a big m/m fan, so maybe that contributes to my not liking the menage? *Shrug* Who knows! I agree that there are some books where the family is way to accepting of a menage situation. I appreciate when the author takes the harder path (and realistic) making the characters struggle and second guess their decision. It makes for much better reading!

  23. Like some of the other posters, I am ok with the menage as part of a sexual experimentation. But I just don’t buy it for an HEA. I know in the abstract that there are people have relationships like this IRL, but I can’t connect with it.

    One of my biggest irritations with romances in general is the insta-love between the H/h. But if you love the genre, which I do, you just kind of have to grit your teeth and bear it. With a menage story, the instant-factor is exponentially worse…. because in many cases, this is the first time the characters have had a threesome –and not only are they “in love” too fast, but awfully accepting of an unusual circumstance in a short period of time.

    The very hardest scenario to buy into is a m/f/m, where the guys have always been “straight,” but a common attraction to the woman lands them all in bed and then the guys segue into man-love with very little forethought, angst, or freaking out.

    As for siblings, that’s just gross. Really.

  24. @Jen – The insta-love is very difficult to deal with, and extra hard for the extra people and complications. I completely agree there! I’m with you on the sudden man-love b/c of a woman. SERIOUSLY? O_o NO….

  25. For me a menage has to work for all 3 parties and I have only read a handful where that has happened – I feel the same way about being burned out on this trope. I also feel squicked out on the books with the brothers who share.

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