What makes the difference between a book that is not memorable and another that is a must read? Besides the obvious, which is talent, here are are some thoughts that I think are totally necessary to make a great erotica menage romance. My analysis is based on reading hundred of all kind of erotica romance over the years. Again, this is my opinion only. Some will totally disagree and that is fine, we all have different expectations or tastes.
So this is an humble message to the erotic menage authors who write or wish to write this sub-genre that I love so very much. You know the drill right? The more you love, the more critical you can be. Do not take it personally, please. This is what come in my mind after reading hundred of erotica menage romance. Use it. Do not use it. I do not have the “little voices in my head that speak to me” like most authors are talking about, I have my own little voice who can speak loud and clear once in a while trying to reach some authors who are brave enough to write this sub-genre 😉
I understand that after a while it becomes a circle. But I’ll be honest here. I am tired of the 25ish virgin Cinderella heroine, as well as the almost (as if) Dom crude caveman who think sex is the answer to shut up the heroine. I am just tired of the brainless heroine and cavemen I guess.
Sex can be original. I understand that most of the authors never experienced a menage. At least, I assume. Funny is that I can tell when an author did and it makes all the difference between steamy and hot because the tiny details will reveal tons. Please, try to avoid the same epilogue with the dual penetration. I mean, okay, I understand that virgin asses need preparation and all that but each time I read a story ending with a dual penetration, I feel like it is the 4th of July (1st in Canada and 14th in France LOL) with the fireworks and all. Here also, try to be original. Do NOT be shy. Being part of a menage means voyeurism, means kinky. There is way more than a dual penetration and this sex scene does not have to be at the epilogue all the time as if the woman won the lottery!
Lets talk about cleanness… can you PLEASE make sure that your characters are clean and take showers once in a while… sometimes I wonder if they ever do… I mean think about it… someone licking your ass when you had no shower since the morning? Yuck! Sorry but Yuck. Although I read this kind of sex scene very rarely, still yuck! We can also extend to a BJ because I assume that when the guy asks a BJ outside his home, he peed a couple of times and I bet he did not use soap to clean his dick in a public bathroom at work or restaurant, right? Same with the woman… I know. I am thinking way too far and I am sure that most readers assume that miraculously they are clean 24/7 but my credibility factor is always very aware of this kind of details.
A short note about condoms. I like to think that the characters are responsible adults and take their health and others seriously. Using a condom can be very erotic! Think about the girl taking it in her mouth and putting it with her teeth or a funny strawberry taste condom which can bring some humor that I am always upset not to find. Tons of possibilities! But then, some authors wrote the smart justification of not using the condoms anymore when all the characters explain they have a clean test. Now… this said, I personally think that using a condom when there is an anal penetration is the right thing to do no matter the clean tests. But here is really my personal opinion. Of course, if the story is historical, then this does not apply, right? But this is pretty much the only exception I can find.
Spanking. I don’t know but if a guy spanks me and give me the best orgasm evarrrr because I did something wrong like not calling because I am late or drive a car when I had a glass of wine I should associate spanking with punishment…. mmm…. let me think…. fabulous orgasm with spanking… well! I may arrive even later next time uh? I mean I would be completely stupid to do not look and hope for another spanking no? Now… if the spanking frustrates me with no orgasm lets say for hours, THAT will make me think otherwise. It is like giving a candy to a kid who just did something he was not supposed to do: “Here you are kid, have a candy but do not do it again!” Completely illogical. I call that a reward not a punishment at all!
Anal penetration. Most of the time the male assume that she has a virgin ass and they do not even ask. I mean if a woman is not a virgin (brownies points to the author if she is not), why a male would assume that she is ass virgin? If he asks and she say yes, then okay but when he immediately assume otherwise, I am like: “hey buddy! I had a sex life before you, maybe surely not satisfactory but I had one!”. Again, we are talking about being disrespectful and macho attitude. Oh! and lets not forget the dual penetration in her virgin ass done within 5 minutes top chrono. ouch! I mean, anyone who has done it know that it needs preparation, either oil or plug and time! Unless the woman is a pain addict, no freaking way I find the romance in the anal penetration sex scenes I read. again… ouch!
Rudeness and crudeness. I get it that some women love to be called bitch or slut. I am not one of them but that is okay, I can understand that a dirty talk can increase the excitement like visuals. But if the guy is a total asshole arrogant and crude for over 2/3 of the book… sigh… that is a way too long and annoying. Did I mention already that I have a hard time when a male disrespect a female verbally? yeah. tons.
In my opinion, it is almost impossible that 2 men in a menage remain completely straight. How so? Lets put my teacher suit for a moment eh? Wellllllllll… there is a very thin skin of wall between the anal and the vagina and when both channels have penises in them those penises receive some friction, some kind of massage that increase the level of pleasure on top of the pressure or the tight fit of the channel. Also, the balls can touch the other and give extra pleasure when the penises are near to each other, logical. When a guy lick a woman when a guy penetrates her, do you think that the tongue is selective all the time? really? The visual will also increase the pleasure as well as the taste of the male and wowan. If a guy find pleasure to see another penis working in and out, will his eyes remain on the vagina only? not likely. A complete straight man would never receive pleasure of any kind like that. It is not because he did not initiate any physical touch directly that he remains straight: he received pleasure in the act because of another man. So when it says straight men in a menage? I have all these visuals in mind and I am thinking: nope. they do have bisexual hidden tendencies or they are in complete deny. The % would be of course minimal but this tiny forbidden pleasure is enough for me to say that a straight man is not completely a straight man in a menage sex scene. Anyway, I am sure not expert but the totally straight is for me an utopia.
This said. A man does not have to be bisexual to be part of a menage. Not at all. He can be extremely at ease to have no desire for another man and yet understand that touching another penis to help the guy to find its way, is not necessarily a gay gesture. It is also possible that nobody is comfortable with a dual penetration and remain to one guy receiving a BJ and one penetrating the woman. That would totally limit the touch and justify my “almost impossible” I am talking about.
I always thought that the dual penetration is a disguised way for two straight men to experience gay sex without saying it out loud and without loosing the “straight label”. Maybe this is why I find the MMF more credible in a way because there is then no taboo and touching everyone is expected. Talking about MMF… can you please make sure that the story is not a MM turning into a couple with benefits with the woman aside? That frustrates me no end when I read that each main character are not equal. Not talking only sex here, but also emotionally.
Conclusion: do not be shy. Be dirty. Be funny. I mean your sex imagination should be endless: dual vaginal penetration, squirting, dual BJ, if MMF trio BJ and licking, use of all kind of toys… I mean did you read the kama sutra or just make a search online with the words sex positions! goodtoknow. What the heck! Be creative because after all, you ARE an erotic author! So stop teasing and play around and go for it!
Ha! I am aware that it is not easy and I found that most authors do pick the same big bad guy or give us clue but do not develop them. For me a great story vs a good story means that romance = plot = sex. All three parts must be equal and keep me on my toes. This is so far very rare that I found it in one story. I have to say that depending on the writing background of the author, I will find more or less place for the plot. The unbalance does not mean it is good or bad. I can enjoy very much a menage with hot sex scenes on each chapter or a developed plot with sex scenes nearly at the end of the story. There is no recipe to provide a great story but a strong plot helps for sure.
Yes the big bad ass can be suggested but should be developed without being obvious. For example. If I know that the bad guy is a serial killer. I do not want to know who he is on chapter 2 and give me all the clue how he will be killed! I want to be kept on my toes until the end. A little bit of suspense does not hurt.
4. Time factor
My gosh, I sure have tons to say about it. Think credible. At all times!
How credible it is to read that the heroine was beaten all her life, was verbally and physically violated, got rid of this situation, meet some guys few weeks after and accept to submit to them completely almost immediately with a body still covered with bruises and emotionally fragile? And of course the guys have to be some Doms looking for their submissive? I mean alllooooo? reality? not likely!
Or when the heroine is separated with the males and she is loosing hopes after days or short weeks? mmm nope. Months? yes! I would not loose hope after a couple of days, even weeks. I do not have a switch button on my heart saying: ok. today is the day I am free of my past. duh? Can I be so angry after a couple of days or will weeks make it even worse?
Months should be more acceptable. I never ever heard anyone recovering in weeks. evarrrr
I do believe at love at first sight. Honest! But the panel of emotions such anger, loosing hopes, sadness, forgiveness, moving on, healing… this takes time.
Here also I have tons to say. Please (PLEASE!) if you do not have BDSM first hand experience, read Cherise Sinclair or Madison Layle & Anna Leigh Keaton (Incognito series) and know the difference between a male who has a dominate nature and likes to play bondage in the bedroom (spanking, cuffs, toys) and a real Dom who breath and live the D/s lifestyle and would never ever be a temporary Dom and only in the bedroom.
I understand that the term BDSM sells well. But lets remind us the wikipedia definition shall we?
BDSM is an erotic preference and a form of sexual expression involving the consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power role-play. The compound acronym BDSM is derived from the terms bondage and discipline (B&D or B/D), dominance and submission (D&S or D/s), and sadism and masochism (S&M or S/M). BDSM includes a wide spectrum of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures.
Activities and relationships within a BDSM context are characterized by the participants usually taking on complementary, but unequal roles, thus the idea of consent of both the partners becomes essential. Typically participants who are active – applying the activity or exercising control over others – are known as tops or dominants. Those participants who are recipients of the activities, or who are controlled by their partners are typically known as bottoms or submissives. Individuals who alternate between top/dominant and bottom/submissive roles — whether from relationship to relationship or within a given relationship — are known as switches.
I am not saying to do not “use” the D/s but do NOT mention that your hero is a Dom when obviously he is not. A Dom is 24/7, would be a member most of the time of a club, will have this urge to collar or mark somehow his submissive (tattoo or jewels, anything visual to state his ownership)… Having a bag full of toys is not a sign that he is also a Dom.
So BDSM no. But bondage, dominant taking charge, yes. Unless you are really writing a BDSM story and you know what you are talking about 🙂
I like high maintenance guys. I love their insecurities. I love when they are clumsy. I love they can blush and loose control. I love them big bad ass teady bears and completely smitten with the heroine. I like that the heroine is strong and feisty. I love her also clumsy with humor. I love her opinionated. I love when she can initiate sex and switch from submissive to dominant in a blink of an eye. But this is my taste.
I completely loose interest when the heroine is an object, a bed toy with no personality or when the guys do not allow her to have a different opinion as them. I call that close minded and disrespectful. Same as using sex as a way to have the final word? Really? How probably that the following day, the heroine will wake up and claim how wrong she was to think differently after a good sex?
Please. Never ever put the woman after family duties. This is NOT what I want to read in my romance story. At all. I have in mind an epilogue where the guys disappeared for 3 weeks, never left a message to explain anything or tried to find the woman. They just disappeared leaving her in the dark if she will see them ever again. When they finally took care of the family issues, they decided it was time to go back after her and came back all cavemen giving her a spanking to make sure that the heroine understood they loved her because she dared to show her surprise. uh? really? For 3 weeks the woman has no idea if she will see them again and in fact was pretty sure she would not and the excuse they make when they find her is: now we can concentrate on you because our family business are resolved. WOW. I would love to hear that crap, I’m telling you. Reading it? mmm no thank you.
However, when I read a BDSM, I make a switch in my head and I try to understand the need to be a pet. The slave concept is for me a complete foreign concept vs my own personality so I have a hard time to relate but I find the complexity and range of emotions between the Dom and the Sub completely fascinating. I will not take my teacher suit again if you do not know the difference between a pet and a slave but there is a huge difference that sometimes some authors do not know. Again, not talking about the “expert” BDSM authors. I invite you to visit some BDSM book reviews blogs like BDSM Book Reviews or BDSM Book Reviews (same name but different blog). Those will give you some good choices of BDSM books both menage and MF.
Credibility does not mean contemporary. Most will make the confusion because it is not contemporary then everything is allowed and tolerated. Wrong! Credibility means I can relate to the heroine no matter if the story take place in a Sci-Fi or paranormal or whatever genre. Credibility means that I can say to myself: oh yes! that could be me in this situation!
It is not a secret that I do not like weak personalities and the cliché still virgin at 25 and not knowing a thing about sexuality is not credible. Unless the girl was raised in a cave, with no contact whatsoever and even so, I would assume that her hormones would speak to her one way or another.
When I read an erotic (menage or not) romance, I do not want to read an harlequin with a missionary position here and there to be labelled erotic. I want my erotic hot and dirty. Again not a Cinderella turning slut at the end of the story but an above average looking woman who may be insecure of what she wants but certainly not a woman who is whining two third of the book yelling “oh nooooo! I can’t do that! What will my family/friends will think about me?“. Each time I just want to throw up and have this urge to contact the author and tell her (generally a her) that she should think to maybe switch to Harlequin. Most of the time the sex is enough tame to fit it anyway.
Do not get me wrong. I used to read harlequin a lot… when I was a teen or a young woman. But as a middle aged woman now, aware about my own sexuality and not ashamed to talk about it, I just cannot relate with a 25ish virgin woman anymore. Those heroines are just too tame for me now. This is as simple as that.
Same with the males. If a character is still single at 40, was a bachelor and had sex with top models all his life… if he falls for a curvy woman all of a sudden, I wish to know his reasons. It does not mean that I want the heroines all curvy here. It is just an example.
My preference goes with more than 2 men with 1 women, generally tagged MFMM+. Some people will jump to conclusion that it is because of the gang sex. Wrong. Dead wrong. I find in “the more hunks, the merrier” of course the sex variety but I love it mainly because all men do have a different personality and mixed together fit what I call the perfect guy.
And this is why I love so much the menage romance: the complexity of all the different character’s feelings and dealing with their own demons and interact with other complex people. In general, I much prefer a high maintenance guy rather than a high maintenance girl. If I relate to the woman in the book, then I expect to have the same passion she has with her males and for that, I need the intensity from the male’s point of view.
My definition of equality: all characters have the same amount of attention in the romance, sex and in the story in general. The focus is not 1 or 2 people but everyone.
Is it that difficult to add some humor in a story? I wonder. I mean everyone do find in their life some humor in some situations no?
I do not ask a story to turn comedy but here and there some clumsy situation or some funny thoughts can add so much more in the story.
I just cannot think to rate a 10k and less story a great story. For me it is just a sex chapter. I understand that the .99$ is very popular and you can read the story at your lunch or your break at work since you read the story in 20 minutes. I see more and more of them. If I am asked to review one, I will keep an open mind and keep under consideration that the purpose is different but I’d rather not read them. I find them frustrating, with no depth.
I do not mean that in order for a story to be excellent, it needs to be a certain number of pages but I need time to fall for the characters and it is quite impossible for me to do it in less than 30 pages.
I know that sometimes the publishers ask drastic edits and sometimes it is not really your choice. But for me the longer I read a story, deeper I fall for the characters and in the end, I am completely under the spell of the romance.
Serialized stories: extremely frustrating in my opinion. Most especially because I have to wait weeks or months before I get the next chapters. By that time, I completely forgot what I already read, who is who etc. So of course I loose interest. On top of it is very expensive to buy a serialized vs a complete one. I tried when Siren Publishing and New Concepts Publishing started this. But after a couple attempt, I just decided to either collect all the serialized parts or buy the complete book which was cheaper anyway. Maybe if the releases were close enough like on a weekly basis? But honestly one chapter in june and the next one in october? again… really? I think this is pretty disrespectful for the customer. So instead of the publisher waiting for the author to provide the chapters, they should use an already written book and serialize it and deliver the chapters on a short time basis. They will not loose our interest in my opinion plus the author would be less pressured to provide something quickly which is never a good thing for the quality.
11. HEA, HFN and ending MF
I definitely go for a HEA (Happy Ever After). Since I praise so much the equality in the menage, I think it is a logical choice. The HFN (happy for now) can be okay if it is a series and I have all the books in hand to read them up to the HEA.
Regarding the ending MF, I do not like them. period. I am pissed off when I buy a menage (as per publisher’s description) and find out it ends MF. If I wanted to read a MF, I would read a MF. If it is described as MF with menage sex scenes, then I know in advance and I will not be upset. Publishers suck in this. They want to increase so much their sales that they mix BDSM when it is only bondage, or menage when it is a menage sex scene. Some will use “multi partners” to remain safe because they do not want to be labelled too erotica.
I have the very bad habit to read the last couple of pages before I even start the story. It does not diminish the fun to read a story at all because it is generally very short. I want to know right away if I will find a HEA, a HFN or ending MF. If I find it ends MF. Then I do not read it. I have quite a few in my collection.
The funny thing to read the last 3 pages is that I make my own conclusion about the main focus of the story: sex, romance or plot. If the book ends with sex, then sex will be the main focus in the story. If it ends with babies, then the romance will be the focus. If it ends with other characters like family or friends, then either it is a series or we will have a sequel of the current story and most of the time the focus of the book will be the plot. I have no idea why, but I am usually right.
I love to be kept on my toes but on the other hand I like to know that the ending will be satisfactory with a Cinderella ending… which goes completely against my 25ish virgin Cinderella character that I dislike so much. Complex me? naaaaaa
I am going to generalize here and I am sorry about it because of course there are exceptions. But overall, I noticed that:
MMF: way too much into the MM relationship vs equal M M F relationship, sex are generally hotter with MM vs MF, the romance is either centered on the MM or the F but rarely on all 3. The plots are rarely developed vs the sex which is often the main focus of the story. Most of the time we “hear” only the woman’s thoughts. Right now, it seems that this sub-genre is extremely in demand and the publishers are offering more and more MM (LGBT) and MMF vs MFM. It is very clear when I am on my daily/weekly hunt to buy new menage releases.
I am very okay to read a bisexual menage. Most of the time the sensibility is higher with the guys vs MFM. But as a woman, I do not want to read a MM story in a menage MMF. If so, I would just then read a MM story without a woman involved. Unfortunately a lot of author are using the woman as a bed toy in the romance. Most of the time the MM relationship already exists before the arrival of the woman. I enjoy way more when it is not the case and the menage MMF is build without any of the character already involved in a relationship.
note: I read a couple of time some so called straight man turning bisexual in a matter of hours… uh… really?
MFM: authors in general develop more the plot in this sub-genre vs MMF. Generally we find the equality. However I find more difficult to connect with the male characters when the author decide to write using the ** I ** or when we get only the female’s thoughts. If I “hear” everyone, I can understand better the reasons and go deeply into the knowledge of who is the character.
Most of the time the guys are: “best friends who shared all their life” “brothers who are generally Doms” or what I like the most “strangers who need to compromise”. I think most authors pick the easy way with the best friends which is not all bad but as I said, easy. Why easy? because they do not have to justify or explain much. They grow up together, one was generally adopted, they got close because their childhood was difficult and they could rely only on each other so sharing women were just logical. This is most of the time explained by the authors in a couple of lines before they move forward with the story.
If 2 men like to share, I want to know way more than it is because the sex is satisfactory. A menage is a long term relationship, not only about sex. Unfortunately this part is not always developed in menage stories and therefore the story becomes a good one vs a great one.
MFMM+: I am not sure why it is still rare in the market. I am fortunate so far that the authors who choose this sub-genre are very good writers but lack sometimes of imagination. Most men are brothers/cousins. The originality factor here is almost existent. However, most authors give them each a very distinct personality and if they are very cliché, the romance is interesting because the woman has to deal with all the complexity of her own personality. Generally we have the alpha Dom (inescapable), the player/playboy, the sweet/puppy eye younger brother, the wise but intense, and so on.
Note: Since I believe that a menage the guys mixed together form the perfect guy, OF COURSE, I will be more into this sub-genre. But what I would like is no more brothers but strangers. That would be original and more intense.
In general, unless the author focus her/his work on erotica menage stories only, the authors are way too shy with sex scenes and emotions. It is like they want to expand their range of readers but are lost in the process on how to do it because they did not make enough researches to get a solid knowledge or they do not have a trio in mind but still a duo where they are more comfortable with. Methinks that they should read a bit more of menage before they start to write this sub-genre and not only from the same author. I talked with a couple of authors and they all told me that they found difficult to multiply threefold the emotions and knot them together. Again, I am talking in general. I did find some authors who can write everything like maestro.
So here are my thoughts. Take it or leave it. Take them with a grain of salt. Do not follow any of my advise/thoughts. I am talking in general only. I read hundreds of erotica menage romance before I started this blog dedicated to menage reviews. I am a reader first before being a reviewer. A reviewer is in fact an aspirant author who does not have the talent or the courage to write a book 😉
Thanks for reading me.
July 22, 2013
Almost two years later and I would not change a single word, maybe typos, but not the meaning.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article 🙂
March 19, 2015
No change as of today except about …
I understand that each author put a lot of what they are or live into their stories. That is generally how we fall in love with an author’s writing… or not. For me, I have quite an issue with best girl friends that take decisions on behalf the heroine. That is a line any of my friends would never cross… e.v.e.r.
I noticed this with two authors. Both girlfriends were main heroines in previous stories. But what was acceptable when they were main characters, it was no longer acceptable when they became secondary characters.
Main issue is that, as a reader, I want to relate to the heroine and if the heroine is weak and with no backbones, then I jump out of the wagon very quickly.
So my advise? Keep the secondary characters at their places: funny, nice and supportive, nothing else. Everything else is annoying.
Respect your readers
Something that truly bother me is to do not know beforehand if the story is truly a stand alone or if I should read the full series because the author makes constant references on previous stories.
So either make sure to add STAND ALONE or use a LEXICON so we, readers, know who is who.
Forced seduction or Non consensual
In my book this is rape so be very very careful if you are tempted to use this and believe this will attract somehow more readers. Forced seduction and non consensual are RAPE. Let me say it again… R.A.P.E.