Jen On: Menage In Your Romance Or Not?


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Recently I have been totally sucked in to Shayla Black and Lexi Blake’s Masters of Ménage series.  Don’t ask me why because I am fairly certain I have no logical answer.  Maybe because it is a concept so foreign to me that I can’t help but read it over and over in an attempt to dissect it?  Maybe because while it seems fun on the pages from a sexy perspective, I can’t stop wondering about the emotional point of view?  I just don’t know.

There are two scenarios that I have seen become pretty popular recently.  The first is the permanent ménage relationship.  Lauren Dane writes, what I think, is the best example of this relationship in Laid Bare.  This is one of the few permanent ménage relationship that I can see working long-term.  It is a m/m/f grouping where all the individuals have emotional ties to each other.  It doesn’t feel like someone is a third but that they are all a trio, if that makes sense.  An example that I do not think will work is Rough, Raw, and Ready.  I can’t recall a book ever making me so angry.  It was an example of when ménage becomes cheating and unhealthy.

The second scenario is the one where we see a monogamous relationship between two people and they bring in a third for fun.  This is a completely foreign concept to me because I cannot fathom watching my husband have sex with someone else….but we will go with it for now for the sake of this post.  This ménage is usually described as the man wanting to control the woman’s pleasure by making someone else focus on her.  Huh.  Really?

If I am honest, neither concept works for me but somehow I can overlook that in books.  I just can’t fathom how a permanent ménage relationship would work in today’s society.  Besides societal constraints what about the simple logistics of everything?  Who is married, who is the father of the kids, is there a three-way joint bank account too??  As for bringing a temporary third in how do you do that without adding in some sort of jealously?

Now I am in no way judging here, really I am just curious.  I don’t understand why I like to read something in a book that would never, ever work in my real life. What about you?  How do you feel about ménage in your books?  Do you look for it or go out of your way to avoid it?


  1. says

    I like ménages… but I am very picky about which ones I read. I usually only go for m/m/f. I don’t like anyone to be left out, I don’t want any one relationship to be more important the others, I don’t like it when a woman has more of a connection to one man over the other and I like for my men to have just as much of a attachment to each other as they do to the woman. If I’m going to read a ménage I want it to be a true partnership between three people.

  2. says

    I love menage stories! I’m rarely convinced it would all work out for the best yet I still seek out these stories. Like Angela I prefer m/m/f. If there are going to be three, everyone gets to participate LOL.

    As far as separating real life and fantasy, no problem. I read tons of romance novels that feature scenarios and characters I’d have nothing at all to do with in my real life. It’s fantasy. For instance I love a good alpha-hole hero in my romance novel. One of those jerk heads approaches me in real life? OH.HELL.NO.I.DON’T.THINK.SO!!!

  3. says

    I am no but because I don’t like to share AND I like to put myself in the leading ladies position. So it is more about how I read as opposed to disliking them. I am just an old fashioned one to one romance kind of gal. It is my problem with triangles too

    • Pamela says

      I agree. “I don’t share” is my stance both in real life and romance land. While I can see how others find it erotic, I just can’t identify with threesomes.

  4. says

    I can see how a permanent menage would work on an emotional level. I believe humans are capable of loving more than one person equally. If you have one child, and then you have another, do you love the first child any less?

    On a practical level, it would be pretty complex, but that’s why it’s more fun in fiction. 😉

    • says

      But, to me, love for my children and love for my spouse are very different. I don’t know how to explain it well though.

  5. sara says

    I’m not into them. I get the titillation factor, but as far as romance? Just doesn’t work for me. Actually, I feel like I’m over a lot of erotic romance right now. It seems to be inundating the genre at the expense of the actual romance. I’m at the point now where I’m skipping the sex scenes and looking for some sweet romances to read. So many of the scenes feel forced and rote. Not sexy at all… sigh

    • says

      It doesn’t help that every other book right now is like that. I have kind of drifted towards UF lately for that reason.

  6. says

    Well, you know MY position on menages.

    “in real life the woman will not love each man equally, feelings get hurt, bossy men get smacked, and the woman is always stuck taking care of everyone.”


  7. Lily says

    I’m so with you on Rough, Raw, and Ready. That one emotionally gutted me. I felt like the two guys had the connection and were keeping the h only because she was married to one H’s. That was not an even relationship. I need my menages to be even emotionally otherwise, I spend the whole book feeling insecure for the odd man (or woman) out. In real life, there is no way I could hold back and handle the jealousy of a poly life.

    • says

      Man, that book made me so angry. The h was just an after thought for those two men. I had to stop that series after that book because it was all I could think about from then on.

  8. Jenifer says

    I like to read them, but I’m with you, I don’t see how they would function long-term for the exact reasons you listed. I would lthink you would have to be VERY secure in your relationships with each person. I’m not sure how jealousy wouldn’t sneak in and rear it’s ugly head, regardless if it’s m/m/f or m/f/m. Add that to the view of society in general of these types of things and it would seem that problems would abound. I love Laid Bare & think it’s the best version of a m/m/f I’ve read, but even in that book, I kinda felt bad for Ben. Even though the 3 of them are very tight, she still has Todd’s name, is viewed as Todd’s wife publicly and legally and their son has Todd’s name.

    • says

      I love Laid Bare & think it’s the best version of a m/m/f I’ve read, but even in that book, I kinda felt bad for Ben. Even though the 3 of them are very tight, she still has Todd’s name, is viewed as Todd’s wife publicly and legally and their son has Todd’s name.

      See even the best of the relationships has these issues. Maybe it is just how I am wired and that is how I think? Make sense?

  9. says

    I’m totally on board with the m/m/f. Those feel the most realistic and the ones that would have a chance for success in the real world. But, overall I just don’t believe a person could love two people equally in the real world. I would think ultimately there is a stronger connection to one over the other and I just can’t see how jealously would not be a constant part of the relationship.

    BUT, like you I’m all for it in the fantasy realm!

    • says

      One of the books I just read (don’t you dare laugh) the chick was in love with three very different brothers. And it was like that for over a year. How was she in love with all three, and watched all three plow, literally, through gobs of women? One would cause enough heartbreak but three?? Ay, yi, yi.

  10. says

    I’m really glad to see this being addressed. I recently sent off a long letter to DBSA podcast about this issue. I really like menage books but I run into a lot of conflict and emotional connections being ignored once everyone gets naked. Most menage books seem to fall into a sex, sex, sex pattern without addressing actual issues. I feel “Laid Bare” is one of the better examples.

    Can anyone recommend any series that are similar to “Laid Bare” or individual books? I really like to see the conflict and emotional issues dealt with. Not everyone is going to be accepting. Not everyone is going to understand. I like to see that dealt with in a way that seems realistic.

    • says

      Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any like Laid Bare. And I think that is because it is just so difficult to make it believable.

      • Amy says

        Another one I read a couple of years ago and thought was more believable was Out of the Blue by Annemarie Hartnett. It did not have a perfect HEA which I appreciated given the characters issues throughout the book. I need to re-read that one again.

      • says

        I just tend to want more substance than sex, sex, sex. While I have no problem with erotic romance I find the romance tends to peter out as we get constant chapters about sex. We lose the emotional connection to the characters because there is no emotion involved until the inevitable “big misunderstanding”. Until that happens the reader only gets the occasional glimpse into the actual romance which usually deals with one person falling in love and worrying about the relationship ending. It seems a bit repetitive. I’ve tried the Maya Banks “Colters Legacy” series but it gets trapped in insta-love and little romance once the nakedness starts.

        It’s a tad frustrating when you find something you like but you can’t find something exactly like you want.

  11. Amanda says

    I have read a few menages that I am okay with but for the most part they just do not work for me. I mean if you have an Alpha hero with jealous strike who frequently uses the word “mine” when referring to the heroine than I have difficult time that he is somehow okay with her doing it with some other guy.

    • says

      Yes, the “I want to control her pleasure” excuse stretches it for me. That still doesn’t make me believe another peen wouldn’t cause issues.

  12. says

    Yeah, I’ve read both Lauren Dane’s book, and Shayla Black’s series and these situation work for me in books. They’re interesting to read about. But like you, I simply can’t figure out how they’d work in RL. Perhaps in a situation like in Laid Bare, when both men are bisexual and they’re all really equal partners, but the three-men-one-woman thing? Yeah, that would never work.

    • says

      They’re interesting to read about. But like you, I simply can’t figure out how they’d work in RL.

      That about sums it up, doesn’t it?

  13. pamelia says

    I like reading about menages, but there’s usually that “this’ll never work” in the back of my brain niggling at me the entire time.
    I really hate when one of the threesome seems to get the emotional or even sexual shrift.
    I think Cherise Sinclair’s “Hour of the Lion” and “Winter of the Wolf” work well as romances with a three-way HEA mainly because they’re paranormals (shifter stories) so the biological imperative for 2 guys with 1 girl feels more solid.
    There’s an old Shayla Black book with a horrendous title — “Dangerous Boys and Their Toy” which I remember reading and thinking “this could work” because the balance of the relationship was well done, plus the two heroes were into each other AND the heroine.

    • says

      There’s an old Shayla Black book with a horrendous title — “Dangerous Boys and Their Toy

      I loved that book. So freaking hot.

  14. June M. says

    I love the fantasy of menages (especially m/m/f ones) so reading about them in books is great for me. But I really don’t try to figure out if it would work IRL or not. I do think that a big, important part of making it work would be communication, honesty, and love shared by all the members.