Three is a Crowd


We all know romance is fantasy. I’m sorry y’all but you are not going to meet your future billionaire husband at your local coffee shop The creepy, stalker guy you see on the street corner – is really just a creeper, he is not a secret sex god waiting to whisk you away. And you are not going to end up in a permanent menage with two hot men.

There I said it.

You are not going to live happily ever after with two guys. All contributing to the household expenses evenly, all taking turns having dirty sex and sharing the same bed.

It’s not going to happen. So why does it happen so much in romance books? Yes, fantasy, but is it a fantasy we like? And more specifically, why do authors build towards a m/m or m/f relationship in a series, then release their book with a third romantic interest in the relationship? Why authors, why?

Is it to make the book more erotic? Two peens are better than one? I have to admit, I do get excited when the book features a m/m/f, where both men are attracted to each other. But I’d probably be even more excited if we just nixed that “f” right out of the relationship. In Elle Kennedy’s Men out of Uniform series, she was working up to a relationship between Aidan and Dylan, yet when their book came out, a woman named Claire also joined into an eventual permanent menage. Now, I know the author all along intended to have it as a threesome and it is just my love of m/m books that I didn’t want a girl thrown in. But I still felt a tiny bit cheated by it.

Someone recently commented in the blurb reveal of Rocky Mountain Freedom by Vivian Arend that she has read a few books where…

“…a woman suddenly appears in the plot to create 3-way insta lust, followed quickly by 3-way insta love and an HEA ménage. It now seems this book is going to follow exactly the same storyline. Predictable and slightly unbelievable. Is this the new in thing??”

Now, Rocky Mountain Freedom isn’t out yet so we don’t know how the relationship in that book will play out, but I think this commenter makes a good point. A third person thrown into a relationship needs great care. It changes the dynamic of the romance and it needs time to develop and make sense.

I’ve read some books with menages that have worked – but if I had a choice, I think I’d prefer the HEA to just be two people, especially if we get hints of a romance developing between two people, only to have a third thrown in later.

Have a third come join the fun during the book (hey, even invite a fourth!) but for me, a permanent menage HEA doesn’t feel genuine.

Have you ever been disappointed by a third person entering into a relationship that had already started? Which menage books have worked well for you?.


  1. LethalLovely says

    Most of the menages I’ve read worked out for me. The ones that didn’t had more to do with the personalities of the 3rd characters than the fact that they were apart of the menage. I don’t usually have a problem with being disappointed with a third person entering into a relationship that had already started, since I actively look for books involving permanent menages, as it is one of my favorite tropes (is that the right word?).

    As for the opening paragraph of your post, I kindly disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting around daydreaming about one of those scenarios happening to me. I doubt they’ll ever happen to me. But do I believe that someone could find happiness with the billionaire at the coffee shop, the creeper on the corner, or in a permanent threesome? Hell yeah. Just because it hasn’t happened to me or someone I know, doesn’t it mean it couldn’t and hasn’t happened to others. Marrying the local billionaire is a lot more believable to me than say…..Aliens. Or quality health care in the US.

    • Mandi says

      I know there are permanent threesomes out there. I just don’t see it as an attainable reality. I was also just being a little silly ;)

      Now for the ménage trope…I don’t actively look for menages but I also don’t not read them. I think there is an interesting dynamic when you have three people. More of my disappointment comes when there is a romance blooming in a series between two people and then it ends up being three.

      I’d love to get some recs from you if you don’t mind sharing :)

      • LethalLovely says

        Not at all. And sorry if I came off as bitchy. I’m usually in the Lurkers-R-Us category at the blogs I follow but when I saw the whole (paraphrasing) “YOU’RE NEVER GONNA BE HAPPY WITH TWO PEENS OR THE CREEP ON THE CORNER!” I was like “OH NO SHE DIDN’T!” I’ve gotta keep hope alive!

        But I digress. Alisha Rai’s “Glutton for Pleasure” was really good and it does NOT involve Twincest, thank baby Jesus (I don’t get down like that). Maya Banks’ (can’t believe I’m rec’ing her given that you couldn’t pay my ass to read anymore of her books due to the last 3 WTFeries I read by her) “Be with Me.” That one requires a lot of imagination and a nice dose of suspended disbelief, given that it’s a permanent FOURSOME (think of it as a smutty rubix cube). But it was hot. And I actually believed in the HEA by the end. Also, Eve Langlais’ “Freakn'” series. SO funny (very reminiscent of Shelly Laurenston/G.A. Aiken IMO). Also, her characters are diverse (e.g. The heroes of #1 & 2 are Hispanic) so double yay for that!

        • Mandi says

          I love Alisha Rai and I’ve never read Glutton for Pleasure! *gasp* Will go get that one.

          Maya Banks…hmmm. LOL. Yeah – her last few I couldn’t handle. But I’ll keep Be with Me in mind.

          And I’ll def check out Langlais – I read something by her earlier this year and I remember laughing :) Thanks!

  2. Lege Artis says

    Great theme to discuss… I’m all for threesome as one time hot encounter, experiment for characters (For example, last book from K.A. Mitchell Bad Attitude (Bad in Baltimore #3) had amazing threesome scene and I think it was the hottest sex scene in whole book.) Bad threesome as HEA…really not my thing. I think I wanted third person out the most in Beyond Eden by Kele Moon. I really wanted Eve out of the picture..

    • Mandi says

      I didn’t love Eve either. She felt like a weak addition, although I did like that book overall.

      In one of Elle Kennedy’s books, here is a really hot ménage scene (well she has a lot but there is one stand out scene) and I loved it- but then the HEA was just two people. That scenario worked really well for me.

  3. Glittergirl says

    I’m sorry but I disagree with you — and that’s the lovely thing about reading romance…There is something for everyone. I adore reading the FANTASY of menage. My favorite combo is m/f/m – BUT that’s my favorite. I’m not into m/m romance. It kinda doesn’t push my buttons. BUT you add a female to the mix and I’m right there. My first introduction to menages was through Emma Holly. I love that woman’s writing and stories. She has taken me through so many combinations of menages and I’ve believed and loved them all. If the story doesn’t work with a third being added, then it shouldn’t. But if the author is being true to the characters they’ve written and a third is called for, then it’s their story to write. If they are adding a third to be popular or get added to a search for menage for selling purposes, then it’s wrong and they’ve sold out. It’s the author’s story. We don’t have to read it.

    • Mandi says

      No, I love it when people disagree with me :)

      Emma Holly…I’m going to have to look on GR to see if I’ve read her. I know others have Rec’d her to me…

      • Glittergirl says

        My top menage stories from Emma are:

        Strange Attractions – Stand Alone
        Menage – Stand Alone
        Fairyville – St Al, I wish was a series it had such potential
        Demon’s Fire – #6 of Tales of the Demon World, I don’t know if it makes a good stand alone as I read the whole series.

        I love her books. I haven’t read any of her self-pubbed works yet. They are waiting on my Nook for their turn. I will get to them believe me.

  4. Heather says

    I usually won’t complain about a menage if it’s done well. I think (just like any HEA book, really) I have to believe that their HEA is just as good (if not better) with three people.

    But, honestly…I prefer books where all three people are committed to each other, rather than to (usually) the woman, and the other person (usually a man) is just part of the scenery, or just accepted as part of getting the woman. Perhaps that’s because I’m a big reader of M/M romance.

    I also don’t like threesomes that are thrown in there to get the m/f romance going. When it’s all ‘let’s spice it up and bring in another person’ and then the third goes away after a hot night. That’s not my style, either.

    • Mandi says

      Elle Kennedy throws in menage scenes in her m/f romances and for me they work great. I know I’ve read other books where I’ve complained about that same type of thing. It depends on the story and the author’s voice.

      It just takes a lot for me to really believe all three people are fully committed.

  5. says

    I try to avoid menages/love triangles whenever I can BUT I can’t say I don’t read any of those books. I’ve picked up a couple short books by Eve Langlais where the series started out with a couple and added 2 more by the end. For me the key is keeping it fun, sexy, and not heavy. When the heart gets involved and people start staying I love you I can’t get on board with there being more than 2 people (even in the bedroom) because I feel it doesn’t mean the same when you start saying it to more than one person.

  6. says

    I used to be all for the m/m/f menage but since I recently started reading more m/m, I just get annoyed when the woman is thrown in there.

    I read Zane by Nicole Edwards recently and she teased us with a bj from another man but then he disappeared. I could handle that but what I didn’t like was another couple that had been giving each other the eye (both men) well one of them showed up at the end of the book with a woman. That woman proceeded to be their third in the next book. Talk about a letdown. I was so excited for the m/m book.

    • Mandi says

      I wonder sometimes if authors feel it’s safer (maybe not right word) or more mainstream to add a woman to m/m than to just publish a m/m

    • Alesa says

      This is exactly my view! I didn’t need Claire and I didn’t find it believable and I was also disappointed in the Nicole Edwards ‘Travis’ book for the same reason. I totally agree with Mandy that a 3way sex scene can be hot and fun in the story but that the HEA for me needs to be between 2 – either m/f or m/m (obviously the best of these being Ty and Zane; can you imagine ruining their love story with the addition of a woman – horror!!!!)

  7. Renee says

    I agree with you about Claire!! I was all excited to read Aidan and Dylan’s book and then the blurb had Claire in there as well. I was like NOOOOOO!!! I wanted just hot sexytimes with the boys! Oh well. I’m really looking forward to the next book in SE Jakes’ Men of Honor series though. I think the blurb I read hinted at a foursome, but it’s all men, no surprise chicks ;)

  8. Selena Mc says

    Right off the bat I have to say, thanks for crushing my dreams & stuff Mandi! I’m convinced they are right around the corner & they do wanna wisk me away & make all my dirty menage dreams come true. And we WILL live happily ever after :P

    I have read a few that have worked & a few that haven’t. I’ve always liked The Colter series by Maya Banks. I think she makes the setup work. But I’ve read a few where the M/F/M coupling seems awkward because it’s done to please the other partner. I don’t think those storylines work. It’s not natural; too much inner dialogue; too much hesitancy. Just awkward. But I do enjoy reading them. So, I’m ok if a third person enters. Mostly I just wish it was me =)

    Fun topic…Dreamcrusher :)

  9. Angela says

    Usually I enjoy m/m/f ménages more than m/f/m. Although I rarely find HEAs in this trope believable. I do like the fantasy of having a threesome where all are deeply in love and lust with each other. I’m a huge lover of m/m romance so maybe this is why I prefer my guys to get it on in my ménages?

    The only ménage I’ve read lately that was believable to me was Flesh by Kylie Scott.

  10. says

    Well, you know how I feel about m/f/m…women ruin EVERYTHING. lol

    Personally, it’s hard for me to buy the whole polyamorous lifestyle. It’s NEVER 50/50; meaning it’s never an equal relationship between the 3. Someone will always be on the outside looking in at some point of the relationship. And most of the m/f/m is always centered on the female. I like the more well rounded m/m/f cause at least everyone is getting something from everyone. My least fav f/m/m is the one in Dane’s Brown series. I wish Todd and Ben would dump Erin on some private island and just be an m/m. :P

    • Lozza says

      I always feel terrible for Ben in Dane’s Brown Siblings series- I feel like he totally gets the shaft in that relationship! I find the ménage in her other book Tart to be more convincing in terms of equality.
      I think the ménage in Lorelei James’ Rough Riders series is hot, but I’m also not convinced that the two guys are nearly as hot for their lady as they are for each other and it makes me sad.

      • says

        LOL We must be twins. Im always saying, “Poor Ben.”

        ANd I feel the same way about James’s Rough, Raw,and Ready. I always thought Chessie got a raw deal and should have left both their stupid selfish arses. :P

        • says

          I HATED THAT BOOK. With the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I have made more friends on GR just from my review of that book alone. Sometimes it makes me laugh.

    • helyce says

      OMG, I’m so with you even on that Dane book. Though I have to be honest and admit I have not read Erin’s book. The whole loss of a child thing wasn’t something I wanted to read. And I didn’t like how she married one of them. WTF?

  11. Felicia says

    I love 3somes, but I’m thinking more of the m/m/m variety! :D I’m currently reading a m/m/m/m and yes, I’m loving it! The only m/f/m (and also m/m/f in same book) that I LOVED was Laid Bare by Lauren Dane. It wasn’t my first venture into that area, but it the only one that I REALLY love and hold all others to that standard.

    Emma Holly also does a great m/f/m menages. It’s been a long while since I’ve read her, but I remember really loving her Demon series (I think that’s what it’s called off the top of my head).

  12. says

    I love menage romance, especially m/m/f.

    “More of my disappointment comes when there is a romance blooming in a series between two people and then it ends up being three.”

    But this right here. Exactly. I don’t like it when there is a relationship already brewing in a series and then there is a surprise third. It just doesn’t work….usually. I say usually because I have learn that some authors can pull off almost anything. LOL.

  13. Glittergirl says

    So have any of you read Kate Douglas’ Wolf Tales Series? I read a scene once that was m/m/f/m/m one time. The wolf pack does get in on altogether =D

    Then there was Lora Leigh’s Bound Hearts series. Oh, I did love that one.

  14. Amanda says

    I have read a few menage that I have liked but it is rare and they have to start out as a menage. Throwing in another peen after the romance has started just doesn’t work for me. It seems less romantic and it doesn’t always ring true. I know most romance is pure fantasy but the idea that an alpha-male jealous guy would welcome another peen just seems to illogical. I still haven’t gotten around to reading Feral Sins by Suzanne Wright because I read there was some sort of group sex scene that seemed out of place.
    BTW I hope you do not include Scarred virgin billionaires in your list of romance fantasy because I just know I will trip over one any day now.

    • Mandi says

      Well – the scarred virgin billionaire is a rare breed that REALLY is waiting for us to find him and save his soul all the while to teach him the true meaning of love. He is out there! ;)

  15. says

    Someone’s already mentioned Kylie Scott’s post-apocalyptic mfm, Flesh. This is a cracky read–not her best writing, but I ate it up. Yes, Mandi, there are zombies, but no one’s having sex with them.

    And people have mentioned Lauren Dane’s books from the contemporary Brown series. BUT have any of you read Dane’s SF Phantom Corp/Federation ‘Verses series? The first book in that series is Undercover and features a m-f-m. It was first menage I read where the developing relationship centered on building a permanent threesome relationship (instead of it being something the H/h experimented with but moved away from a la Elle Kennedy).

    One of the later books, Captivated, features a m-m-f relationship.

    If you aren’t a believer that menages in a romance can be depicted as long-lasting or having the satisfying kind of attention paid to all three central characters working out their developing feelings, than Dane will make you a believer. At least she will in this series.

    Seriously, Mandi, Captivated at least ought to be on your TBR!

    • Mandi says

      Ok ok. I’ll try Captivated. I’ve read Dane’s PNR series with witches and have enjoyed a lot. But have yet to read Captivated. Moving it up on the tbr :)

  16. Jen B. says

    Wow! So many opinions. I actually loved Lorelei James’ story of Chassie, Trevor and Edgard. I know that Trev and Ed had a relationship first but then I felt like Chassie became the center of the relationship. Ultimately, I feel like that story worked because they talked it out. I hate it when the threesome just says, boy you turn me on so let’s have a committed threesome. Gah!

    As far as Laid Bare by Lauren Dane, I did feel bad for Ben during the book. I decided after I finished the book that he was given the chance to step away and chose not to so if he is the third wheel, it’s a choice made by an adult.

    My favorite ménage book is actually my first. It is a silly book and I can’t explain why I love it but I recommend it all the time. It’s Dangerous Boy And Their Toy by Shayla Black. The concept is stupid but I really enjoyed it!

    • Mandi says

      Your favorite book is your favorite book. You don’t have to explain it ;) I have a few that many would find silly too but that I adore. I’m actually very new to Shayla I amy have to look that one up :) I met her at RT this past year and I loved what she had to say on her panel.

  17. helyce says

    Awesome article Mandi! I am not a huge menage fan,as you know, but as I read your post and the subsequent comments, I realized that I’d read a lot more books that featured menage couples than I’d thought. I also noted that I agreed with many comments, on both sides, which then made me feel a bit wishy washy about my stance on menage as a whole.

    I guess on one side, my logical brain realizes that IRL it just would never work no matter what. But the fantasy part of my brain is winning out here big time.

  18. says

    I am not a reader of erotica, but well, I just love Laurell K. Hamilton and Yasmine Galenorn books. There is no m/m sex in them, but lots of men with only one woman. One of Yasmine Galenorn’s heroines is married to three different men. But then I think it works more easily in paranormal romance.

  19. says

    Since I’m not a huge reader of this genre, I didn’t know this was a huge theme going on. I have know relationships in rl that have tried a permanent threesome, and it never seems to work. Jealousy almost always springs up somewhere and one person is always left feeling out in the cold. I think it’s a great fantasy, but that’s about as far as I would ever take it.

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