Menage does fill a very specific role in female fantasy—two men, focused on one body at the same time. Sounds very familiar to the opposing male fantasy, doesn’t it?
Recently, my favorite romance author, Sabrina Paige, released a new book—Double Team. Her premise, the founding rock of a romance novel, is brilliant—the president’s daughter falls in love with not one, but two, bad boy football stars. What ensues is a whole lot of naughtiness not found in the traditional romance novel. There are pairings—and triplings—that fall beyond the realm of the one male character and one female character we ordinarily follow in contemporary romance. This novel has two heroes, as you might have guessed, and it focuses on their attentions, all directed at one young woman.
It’s edgy, it’s daring, and it revolves around sex. Lots of sex. Sex with two men and one woman at the same time.
Since it’s Paige we’re talking about, there’s also a lot of angst and family drama and humor. There are touching moments, and there’s a happily ever after ending. Because the author is who she is—both high profile and daring with her writing—she pulls it off perfectly. And with the book sitting in the top twenty for the past several weeks, it seems that this style of romance might be headed toward a big boom in the indie romance world.
Since I started writing full-time in 2014, I’ve been aware of menage. It’s been mainstream in the shifter romance world for as long as I’ve been reading shifter romance. Milly Taiden pulls it off with grace and humor in Twice the Growl, a tale about a curvy lady and her romance with two bonded wolf shifters. It even seems a staple of the genre. Paranormal, after all, has been known to push boundaries simply because there are no boundaries in an imaginary world created by the author.
But lately, and especially with the publication of Double Team, the menage plot has been popping up in contemporary and new adult romance.
As romance readers, we want new ideas, and we want more. And with two heroes focused on one heroine at the same time, more is definitely what menage provides. There are even menage romances that delve into relationships between the two heroes, like Elle Everton’s Two Bosses. Stephanie Brother gives us Huge X3, featuring identical triplets as the collective hero of hero of their story. Authors are pushing the scope of menage, further and further with each release.
It’s a woman-focused fantasy in our romance novels, but there’s something to be said for the idea that media reflects the shifts in society itself. If we were talking about any one of the relationships in the books listed above, we’d certainly refer to them as nontraditional—and perhaps polyamorous, if we decided to delve deeper into the vocabulary of non-traditional relationships. The question is—do these recent publications simply show that romance readers are hungry for different ways to live out their fantasies on the page, or do they show a rising acceptance of more nontraditional relationships?
I would argue that it’s a combination of the two. Menage does fill a very specific role in female fantasy—two men focused on one body at the same time. Sounds very familiar to the opposing male fantasy, doesn’t it? If that’s the entirety of the role menage serves, why wasn’t this trend around ten years ago? I think, before the age of self-publishing, we’d be hard pressed to find many traditionally published romance novels focusing on a trio of lovers. With indie authors pushing boundaries and trying out different plots and styles of romance, perhaps there’s an underlying understanding that all types of romance are becoming more mainstream.
And don’t you, and you, and me all deserve love, whatever form it comes in?
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