Genre: Contempory
Menage: MMF MM MF
Series: no
Length: words / 224 pages
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Published on: Apr 19, 2012
ISBN # 978 0 00 747772 2
Author’s blogTwitter Goodreads Facebook


One Girl, Two Guys, No Strings

Kara North is on the run. Fleeing from her controlling fiancé and a wedding she never wanted, she accepts the chance offer of refuge on Liddell Island. She soon catches the eye of the island’s owner, erotic photographer Ric Liddell.

But pleasure comes in more than one flavor when Zachary Blackwater, the charming ice-cream vendor also takes an interest, and wants more than just a tumble in the surf. Zach offers her warmth that she never felt from her fiancé, and soon it’s not just the ice cream that’s melting.

When Kara learns that the two men have been unlikely lovers for years, she becomes obsessed with the idea of a threesome. Soon Kara is wondering how she ever considered committing herself to just one man.


When I accepted to review this story, I of course read the synopsis and thought is was right up my alley. I did not hesitate very long. I knew the author. I bought a couple of her ménage (Enticement & Three times the scandal)and somehow put them on my to-read list.

The synopsys let me think that I would read another romantic ménage. Of course, three characters with a past but meant for each other bla bla bla.


I was dead wrong.  It started as an erotica novel (which is by the way how the publisher tagged it on allromanceebooks) and I was like wow! 224 pages of sex… that is a LOT of sex! I mean, do not get me wrong. I love sex scenes when they are well written but 224 pages? I was thinking that I may need my Ventolin between each chapter to breath a little eh?

So I read. I read. Kept reading. And it happened that at the end I did not need my Ventolin at all because no matter how the publisher tagged this story, it is not reallyan erotica but IMO more an erotic romance.

You all know by now the difference between erotica and erotic romance right? (cough cough) It is 2 different genres with a common denominator: sex. Erotica is meant to arouse you sexually and stimulate your libido by writing sex scenes after sex scenes often mistaken assimilated as pornography since all fetishes and taboos are generously used, while erotic romance comprises fictional and factual stories and accounts of human sexual relationships which have the power to or are intended to arouse the reader sexually (ref: wikipedia). But yes, I agree that the line is pretty blur. Is Erotica a story without love story? Is Erotica a story without happy ending but a satisfactory mutual ending?

Anything But Vanilla is a bit of both for sure. It started immediately with a sex scene, it was truly the story of 3 individuals, indeed using sex in every occasion but ultimately still searching for love. But erotica or erotic romance, that remains a label. What matters is the quality of the story 🙂

Regarding the characters. 2 out of 3 were antiheroes. And what was a tiny bit disturbing is one of them was the heroine, Kara. I kept reading the blurb and thought “uh uh, nope, the “she becomes obsessed with the idea of a threesome. Soon Kara is wondering how she ever considered committing herself to just one man” was not that at all!!! In fact, her obsession was to be free and have sex without strings at all. She met two guys, that happened to have an affair, she was aroused to have sex with both at the same time but never until maybe (maybe) the last pages, she wanted a permanent ménage à trois!

So that was disturbing. I must admit.

One of the heroes, Zach, was a little bit high maintenance and needy and although bisexual, was a tiny bit more gay: he was in love and wanted a long term commitment with the other guy for so long and the heroine was only a piece to get what he wanted. Love came along but I did not feel that equality love was really there.

The third heroes, Ric, had commitment issues and just wanted a polyamorous lifestyle with men or women… to learn that he did not have that much of sex because he not only lived on a small island but also his hidden love for Zach made him picky to find another man for sex.

So here we are. 3 characters that turn around each other and use sex to avoid feelings and rejection.

Kara was finally a bit disturbing because she acted like a man. She had the attitude. She wanted strings and one-night no strings attached sex. When she started to have sex with both, she never showed she loved them or wanted even a relationship with them until the very end. And even then, I felt as if she put them on a trial period. No words of love but a possible relationship where 3 parties where happy sexually.

I took a step back when I ended the book. Like I always do for each book I read anyway. But it took a little bit longer for me to figure it out if I liked it or not. I went on Goodreads to read the comments/reviews. I even understood how some felt: a bit frustrated.

In the end, I decided that I liked it. It was totally different and this difference gave me the perspective I needed to appreciate the story. Yes. I could not really relate to the heroine but I thought that somehow, during certain period of my life, I was like her. I did not want to have a long term relationship and even the word relationship gave me the harsh. The non commitment issue was also something that I understood: I met a couple of guys that wanted more, but that was not my cup of tea at that time so I guess I can say that I had non commitment issues too! And finally, I was also this needy person who wanted way more than being an occasional piece of ass.

So yes. Even if I had a hard time to relate while I was reading the story… I DID related once I finished it! Anything but Vanilla is the type of story that grow on you until you discover that the book will be a memorable book, that in a couple months, even years, I will still remember the story. And that is that.

My advise? Read this book. No, you will not find endless love declarations, sometimes you’ll be a bit frustrated and find her a little cold but in the end, you’ll learn to like her, like them all 🙂

I discovered an author here, Madelynne Ellis, and I am even more curious to read the two ménage I have pending and buy her coming release Foursome.

Characters: 3
Plot: 3
Sex Heat: 4
Equality Level: 3
Credibility: 4
Originality: 4
Editing (poor/fair/good): Good

Overall Rating: 4

You can buy
Anything But Vanilla by Madelynne Ellis HERE.


I’m Madelynne Ellis, a British author of erotica and erotic romance. I started writing after a friend picked up the Black Lace book I was reading and suggested that I should have a go. The rest is history.

My first novel, A Gentleman’s Wager, appeared in 2003, published by Black Lace. I’ve continued to put out titles from that point, branching out into contemporary and urban fantasy in addition to Georgian historical settings.

As for my interests… Well, I have a healthy obsession with a certain Japanese rock-star, I drink decaf, and I get a kick out of scaring the wobblies out of people at gothic horror events.


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About Mary's Ménages Reviews

I read, review, beta read and blog about erotic ménages romances since 2005. Welcome to my world! :)

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