Apr 28 2011 12:00pm

One is Lonely, Two is Nice, Three is Interesting, and Four is Just Strange: Multiple Partners in Erotica

Colters’ Woman by Maya BanksI began reading erotic fiction about a year ago; gay romance, bisexual romance, menage a trois romances...nothing is off limits.

But I have realized through the course of my erotic reading that I am confused by the ever popular multiple-partner romance: The storyline where it is one woman and two or more men. Together. Having sex. All at the same time.

Our heroine is usually a virgin (at least when they start!) and our heroes are beautiful, muscular, above average sized in all aspects, and rename their woman “baby” or “angel face.” Now, from my own experience, my first time was not a celestial experience. I cannot even imagine sharing that with two or more over-endowed men. Frankly, that would have sent me screaming for the hills.

Take Colters’ Woman by Maya Banks. The heroine Holly is a virgin running away from an abusive relationship. She is found by Adam Colter in a snowdrift, half dead, and he is so overwhelmed by her he practically assaults her while she is unconscious. That’s romantic. She is soon informed that he and his brothers have been waiting for her all their lives—and she is to be their one and only wife. And she accepts it all like a seasoned pro. In the end, they all fall in love and live happily ever after.

Now, I was raised believing that you have only one partner at a time. Any more than that, and you risked your phone number on the bathroom wall with a not-so-nice word underneath. I can understand that relationships vary and to each his own, but I cannot see myself being sexual among more than one person. First off, a virgin? What virgin wants her first time to be with two or more sexually experienced men who have some dominance issues? Being told that this will be the best for you while seeing an industrial size tube of KY jelly is not reassuring. 

When do you sleep? Unless all your partners are 20-minute wonders, you're looking at at least an hour or more per guy. All waking up at odd times to have their wicked ways with you. That’s wonderful, unless you require eight or more hours of sleep in order to be functional the next day.

Can we say, “Move over?” Because two or more men in one bed gets crowded. Someone’s going to get smacked before the night is over. And do you ever notice the men involved are usually related to each other? I have siblings and I can honestly say I have never thought about them and sex in the same thought. Because, ugh. The stories imply there is no sexual feelings between the men, but how is that possible? They have to have some feelings or they wouldn’t want to share the same woman.

I won’t even go into the issues of stretching (you know what I’m talking about) or incontinence. Ignore it all you want, it’s still a valid concern.

What I usually find most disconcerting is the lack of romantic connection in the story lines. I never feel the love and bond they are suppose to share. It’s pure sex. You can call me “baby” twenty times a day and tell me you love me, but unless I see proof I’m not falling for it. When did having incredible sex equate love? Even in the non-sexual scenes, there is an undercurrent where even doing laundry becomes an erotic scene. Doing laundry is not erotic.

Will I stop reading these? No. But I think a warning should be issued that these are not to be taken seriously, because 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.


Tori Benson, Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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1. wsl0612
Yeah the brothers thing? Ugh!! Too gross! And I would be demanding that they do all the yardwork and the housework if they want that kind of attention 24/7. But the bossy men get smacked line, LOL!!!!! thanks for that :-)
2. torifl
wslo612-YES! If your serving that many men then you should be able to lie on the couch, eat bonbons, and read romances all day.
Jacqueline Code
3. JacquiC
This post made me laugh out loud. I have been thinking along these lines myself. I'm a pretty new reader of erotica myself but am astounded by the number of menage books. And all these multiple partner scenes that seem to be written as if there is a complete lack of awkwardness or any need to debate who is doing what (or putting what where!)... In my head I KNOW this has to be fantasy/make-believe (it does, doesn't it?), but it's hard sometimes not to wonder whether I'm deficient somehow for not being able to imagine participating in hours-long perfectly choreographed encounters with numerous people without getting sore or fed up or something worse (or bursting out laughing) ... and as a virgin, FORGET IT, absolutely unimaginable. Also eww to the sibling thing. The m/m/f menage thing is much more believable to me if there is sex portrayed between the two men as well. Anyway, I too will continue to read these because they are still fun (and sometimes funny). I loved your post!
4. Emma Cunningham
I've seen it done both well and badly. Leah Braemel tends to make it work.
Maria Smith
5. TexasBookLover
OMG...this post was so funny and true! Why are they always virgins? I know I would have been like hell know! What am I saying would have ... if by some miracle 3 hot well endowed men wanted my big ass (no pun intended...well maybe just a little) now all at once I would probably still scream hell no! I will just keep reading and dreaming for now!
6. torifl
JacquiC-Virgins+2 or more men=not in this lifetime for me. :P

Emma Cunningham-Very true. Lauren Dane and her smexy Brown siblings come to mind. (yum). I like much better if the men are playing "what am I fondling now" under the covers with each other & the woman.

Maria_pronounced_Mariah-I agree with you 102%.
7. ChelseaMueller
@Tori - "What I am I fondling now" That alone just made my day.
8. My House of Books
Four men is indeed too many for my tastes. That's a moresome I don't need or want, unless they're there to clean my house, then fold *and* put away my laundry.
9. JulieYMandKAC
Hear hear! I always think the same way you do. I know it's fiction so I take it with a grain of salt, but part of my can't keep from thinking about it in real-life terms. And I agree with you where I can't see how someone at sometime won't end up getting hurt. Even if it's 10 years down the road, it would happen.
Great post Tori!!!
10. Jen (Red Hot Books)
Great post Tori --and so true! Siblings in a sexual situation is very disturbing. I think I'm ok with multiple people in the bed. My issue is when people with no history of multiple partners all have sex with each other and then decide they're all going to be in a long-term relationship together. Or guys who were "straight" are suddenly cool rubbing their man-bits on (and in) each other because they're in bed with the same woman, but they're not wigged out at all. THAT WOULD WIG OUT ANY STRAIGHT MAN. But, if I'm honest with myself, I don't really read them for the realism, do I?
11. DiDi
I am so guilty of reading and enjoying these books, but you are soooooo right on with everything. I WOULD LOVE to have 2+men totally baby me and be all about my pleasure...but ummm HELLO....once you get through the jealousy, the PAIN cause they are always BIG, I am thinking the MESS is horrible, cause things are going in ALL places and HELLO that back door lovin that is so popular and made to sound mess free and oh so pleasurable even for the 1st time...oh sorry guess that would be another whole blog, lol....The Desire OK series has the most menages with men who have a fixation on backdoor lovin with their women, throw in some BDSM and you would think WOMEN who didn't love every single bit of the kink are crazy, lol.

And did you ever notice with all that lovin goin on, it happens several times a day, when it's done they just get dressed and go on about their business.... OH if only life was like fiction, all of us ladies would be running around smiling, fresh and clean all day and loved by multiple partners, all while our communities loved us and didn't think any of us were a little "off" and our kids grew up perfectly happy with DADS and not knowing exactly which DAD they came from ;-)

I enjoyed reading this post and guiltily enough I wll continue to enjoy the fiction of menage, back door and all those other guilty pleasures, it's my break away from reality and the stresses of being a single mom.......Thank you for making me giggle at myself today =)
12. bittybun
The sibling thing is pervy...but I'll read it for what it is...pervy. I do like a good menage story where there is an emotional connection between all parties involved. It needs balance for me. I like Joey Hill's Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity.
Louise Partain
13. Louise321
There's an old song sailors sing about how they "love to go swimmin with bow legged women." I can certainly see how they would end up bow-legged. If my sweetie starts up after midnight (and yes he starts singing "After midnight, we're gonna . . . ." That guy loves Eric Clapton) I just say "Sorry, Honey, I am a pumpkin and you are not a pumpkin eater" and roll over to sleep. Not that he lets me go to sleep you understand, but I can't even imagine having more than one horny in male at a time doing that. I would be driven insane and not pleasantly. Great post, Tori!
14. Tgentry90
Call me a prude or whatever but I do not like those types of books. I don't mind the steamy, explicit sex. It's the multiple partners part I don't like. I think it's disgusting. I'm all for what happens between one man & one woman. The multiple partners/sharing/threesomes, whatever you want to call it, is ridiculous to me. And yes, I believe the woman is a slut. They try to pretty it up by throwing love in it. Love has nothing to do with it. If a man loves a woman, he's not gonna let another man touch her. I do wish there was a way to know if a book has menage scenes in it before I buy it & start reading. And I think books should have warnings. They put warnings on the online excerpts but the books don't have one. Even music & video games have warning labels. Why not books? They should say whatever kind of sexual content is in the book. Whether it's menage, gay & lesbian or whatever. I'm not judging the people that read or write them. I know a lot of people that do enjoy them & that's fine. They're just not for me. The 2 I bought (by accident) were from Walmart right there on the regular shelf. Not an erotica shelf where they belong. I don't think a 13 year old girl should be able to buy these books & from what I can tell (atleast where I live), the books are there on the shelf for anyone to buy & read.
15. torifl
VBCChelsea- I like that game. ;)

My House of Books-Exactly. The men must earn their keep.

JulieYMandKAC-That's me. I enjoy but inthe back of my head I'm going, "No way. No way. No WAY!!." lol

bittybun-I tried Joey Hill but way to emotional for me. I have a problem w/people being treated mean or getting hurt. I'm a wuss. *hangs head*

Jen (Red Hot Books)-Siblings in bed together skeeves me out. Not going to lie here.

DiDi-lol Don't feel guilty. I'm not stopping either.
16. KT Lopez
This is hilarious...I recently started reading erotic romances and only downloaded Colters Woman a few days ago. I have to say you took the words right out of my mouth. I was reading it and going REALLY? Seriously do people do that?
Well, I've simply accepted it as fantasy and it is an entertaining read so i definitely will keep reading. LOL
17. Tracy Cooper-Posey
I was nodding throughout your post. Yes, you raise some very valid points.

But at the same time, as a writer of menage stories, I have to step up and defend the sub-genre, too:

Not all menage romances feature virgin heroines and heroes with shared DNA. If your reading has focused exclusively on these types of menages, then you haven't explored widely enough, and you're missing out on some excellent stories.

Yes, there are some basic mechanical functions that are sometimes glossed over -- stretching, etc -- but these are supposed to be romances, first and foremost. For the same reason that virginal blood, incontinence, farting, wet spots, the used condom, and so much of the less-than-romantic side of M/F sex is by-passed in normal romances.

In my MMF romances, the men are large, but not abnormally so. They are not related to each other. They like each other, if they don't already love each other, and they are tender with each other in bed.

The heroines are not vestal virgins -- ever. They like sex and are willing to experiment. And when the heroes need to "stretch" them, they actually prepare them properly, right there in the story for the reader to see.

My heroes have never, ever, referred to my heroines as "baby" (ugh), or "angel face" (where did that come from, anyway?).

And at the end of the book, you will know, absolutely, that the three of them have every reason in the world for falling in love with each other, because there's a damn good romance going on outside the bedroom door, and inside their hearts and heads, all while the slots and tabs are busy.

I challenge you to try one of my menages, Tori, if you've been dissatisfied so far. I guarantee you'll like them, or your money back. There's a list of them here:

The lastest one is BLOOD KNOT.

Tracy Cooper-Posey
18. jayhjay
I agree with your post. I sometimes feel like these mmf books are all about how many orifaces can be penetrated at one time. The woman so often just seems like a vessel for these guys, not a real partner.

Also, I can not buy an menage HEA without all partners being attracted to one another. The idea that two siblings, or even two het men are "sharing" a woman but have no attraction to each other makes it seem impossible to have a real relationship. That is why I tend to find m/m/m much more realistic b/c everyone is into each other. But even with a mmf, I need the guys to be hot for each other too. Therefore no brothers!
19. Josie_bibliomaniac
The onlt way I can romance multiply males (2+) with one female is if they are always aiming to please her, which is never the case.

Any relationship where siblings are having sexual relations with each other is down right skeevy to me! Eww, gross!!

Yes, I find it humourous when virgins step in and get down with "heavy hitters". Remembering my own experience with my first couple sexual experinces and thinking about what I currently read, I would have been running for the door! (laughing)

I've found that alpha males get very territorial with their females. I have a hard time with the HEA and multiple straight males with one female. I can't imagine the fight that would happen with deciding who would be a "daddy" first.

Any M/M/F relationship should have two guys that are hot for each other!

As many complaints as I may have, I will cotinue to read. I'll admit that I'm not reading for the story line! I read this type of books because they turn me on. Should I say that? Can I say that?
20. torifl
Louise321-Okay, THAT made me laugh. "pumpkin eater."

Tgentry90-Walmart actually has independant people who come in and stock the book so that was someone who was not paying attention. Hmm..since most of my smut is digital I see warnings but I never thought about the paper version. Interesting point.

KT Lopez-Coulter is the extreme. Though...a friend was reading and keeping me updated on one that involved SEVEN men. Longhorn steer shifters. *giggle*

Tracy Cooper-Posey- I have read quite a few that were well written and very good. I will definiltly look yours up though 'cause I can never read to much or resist a dare. :)

jayhjay-Yes. I need romance, love, and everyone playing together.

Josie_bibliomaniac-I never understand how the whole daddy thing would work and how would they explai it to the kid(s).
21. jayhjay
I don't read a whole lot of menage, but the best one ever was More by Sloan Parker (m/m/m). The men were all hot, with distinct personalities who brought unique things to their relationship. They actually discussed the practical aspects of a menage (can two be together w/o the third?) and over the course of the book you see how their relationship works in a real way. Not just lots of hook ups and a promise of "let's make this work forever" at the end.

I also liked Revelations by Jet Mykles (last book of Heaven Sent series). It was m/m/f but the guys were bi so they were hot for each other as well. A little on the light end but still good.
22. bungluna
Very funny post. I remember reading "Menage" by Emma Holly and going bug-eyed with shock and enjoyment. Since then, I've seem many, many more multiple-partner romances, but I'm afraid that when it gets to be one woman vs. a platoon I just cant suspend my disbelief. As torifl mantioned, Lauren Dane is another author who does menages well.

As for the siblings, I remember studying in Anthropology way back when, about a culture in the far East that practiced one bride for brothers, due to scarcity of females and a need for men to be away at war. I don't think they practiced all in one bed at once, though I could be wrong.
23. booklover sandi
Once I discovered erotica, the menages just kinda fell into it. And yes, for me they are total fantasy and some have been less than stellar. However, I do have a few favorites, Lora Leigh's Only series, Lauren Dane's Laid Bare and on the e-book side, Tymber Dalton's Love Slave for Two. The Dalton book starts w a m/m couple who bring in a f third. The book seems to have had enough of a following that not only did she write a sequel set five years later, she also wrote a "prequel" setting up how the two men got together.
24. RT
I love menage books when the two guys are bi-sexual lovers that also both love the woman and she's into both of them for different reasons. That's the only way I can suspend disbelief. And brothers? Ewwwww.
Pamela Webb-Elliott
25. Spaz
BAHAHAHA - I have seen this book and am familiar with the author (enjoy another of her series), but I had NO IDEA the actual premise. I am laughing my butt off. I am so with you on all of this, pleease no more virgins, and NO BROTHERS! Ever!
"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." amen Tori.
26. SN
I’m not morally opposed to ménages or anything, but I’ve read enough of them to know they’re not for me. They leave me feeling cold and bored. Everyone’s so busy stuffing body parts into each other that I never feel any emotional connections.
Maya Banks is the worst offender when it comes to making her heroines infantile. It’s skeevy to read about these childish girls being treated like blow-up dolls. The deflowering scene in Colters’ Woman was the most unromantic thing I’ve ever read.
On the other hand I love well-written BDSM (there’s not much of it around though), because the focus is on the trust first and the sex second. Actually, that might only be in Cherise Sinclair’s books. Most BDSM writers can’t write to save themselves it seems.
27. Cyn
I so totally burst out laughing that I scared the dog.
I love menage but believe me I have had the same thoughts (incontinence LOL).
The stamina that some of these men have is mind blowing and I've often wondered how they get anything else done like working. How would a woman keep it all straight of what to do and keep it all fair and equal. Christ you'd need a menage coordinator to direct you. Ok, number 1 put your d**k in her p***y, number 2 put yours in her a** number 3 put yours in her mouth, now GO. Ok, now everyone switch to your right. And so forth and so on.
A woman would be working and thinking so hard how would there be any fun.
28. infinitieh
I do wonder if polyandry situations have all the partners at the same time. And how big is the bed?
29. LaurieP
Loving the posts here and laughing out loud and all are so true!!! I have always wondered about the sharing thing. Didn't most of us grow up believing that "if he really loved me he wouldn't want to share me"? And the ick factor of brothers/cousins/best friends sharing. And then the whole logistic of all going to bed at the same time.....can we say sleep deprivation and sore? These stories work more for me if it's a shapeshifter story since most are wolves and therefore pack animals.
30. BeaCharmed
Tori, that was an awesome post and so dead on. While I don't think I'd want a real life menage, reading about them can be interesting if the author is any good. Sometimes though, it's just so unrealistic and/or yucky. :P
31. CelticDva
Ah Tori, you should be published! While very entertaining, I thought it eerie that you were righting about me. My thoughts, my feelings, my reading experiences. Are you any relation to Rod Sterling?

I’m a crazy Kindle nut and a very prolific reader. So much so that I actually maintain a spreadsheet of all the ebooks purchased, including author, character names, genre, dates read and rate on scale from 1-5. Yikes! I sound a bit anal. Is that good in a reader of my nature? Hmmm…I’ll have to think about that. I was never much of a reader and went from a nice sweet clean Historical novels only to erotica in a matter of months. Thank you Amazon!

I have surprisingly become an erotica FIEND, and my first foray into ménage stories was Be With Me by Maya Banks. I was hooked. This was a story that our lovely independent heroin who was so freaked out about the whole subject and kept asking those same questions…what will people think…how can it be fair to everyone …why do I feel guilty when I’m with one and not the other two…what about jealousy…how can it be real love and last but not least how can this work? Whereas I’m a big fan of Ms. Banks, I have to admit that I’m not a fan of the Colter books.

I’m sad to say I would be lost without some of my favorite authors. Unfortunately no every story is a winner, even from my faves. I love the scenes that make you tingle and drool as much as the next fan whether it be between a couple or a multitude of partners, but I also like to have some story line that carries through the whole story and not just the last couple of chapters so that we can have some character development so you care about these people you are reading about and whether or not they should make a go of things. I notice some stories just get lost in the sex and forget that the viewer…I mean reader…have a NEED to care about their characters, especially in relation to a series.

Sorry I went a bit long, I’ve never done this before and got a bit carried away. I was so glad to see so many other ladies out there like me. Happy reading!
32. Snuze
It does make me wonder about the eroticism of it all. I like that you commented on the lack of romance and connectivity; everything is just like an excuse for nothing but carnality.

Which is why if I want erotica, I go for my trusty porn sites or some of the finest fanfic writers around. At least I don't get conned into reading porn-with-pathetic-plot in the guise of erotica.
33. ceemee
I like the menages, but what I don't like about them is when the men appear to be clones of one another. And not literal sci-fi clones, but with the same characteristics and traits, just with different names (one is usually called Chase or Chance). They look the same, talk the same, act the same--and when they are creepy Alphas, as in the guy who has to have some strange STI that there is no cream for or some prehistoric throwback, it is a double dose of gross.

The brother-thing, sometimes hmmm and sometimes meh. Guys have twin cheerleader fantasies, some women must want to double team twin-brother-cowboy-retired-Navy SEAL-former-college-football playing-sherriffs. I don't judge.
34. rsangel127117
Great article Tori! I've been reading erotic romance for a year also. I didn't think I could read them, but after reading a short Lora Leigh one in a Christmas novella, I found I could handle it. Then I read an excerpt from a novel about two gay men. That was fine as well. What got me in these stories was the love. I could identify with that. I've even read some BDSM. I haven't read any bisexual stories yet. One thing I have not been able to read is the menage. I don't think I ever will be. Two men and one woman is not my idea of romance. It's pure sex as you said. Brothers! Ewww! One partner for one woman or one man is all I can handle. I'm just completely turned off by this. And I don't think no amont of good writing, great story lines or good authors will help.
35. Tracy Cooper-Posey
There seems to be some huge misconceptions about the MMF Romance genre, in general. Many of you seem to have had bad reading experiences, unfortunately. May I assure you, not all MMF romances are like the ugh one that has soured you?

I recently completed a series of posts called "Ease Yourself Into MMF Romances" that includes tips and resources for finding good MMF romances that don't feature identical, related heroes, TSTL heroines, or any of the other complaints I've read here. MMF romances, done well, are heart-breaking, emotionally rich and intense reads, every bit as good as any other type of romance you've read. Dissing them because they've got a second hero on the cover without giving them a decent try is just a little bit biased (although no one here seems to have done that, I've noticed -- which is a very nice change).

If you're willing to hear the other side of this argument, try the second post of this series: "How can MMF be Romantic?" It may open your eyes to a whole new genre.

Mirtie Raczo
37. lisa63
I too read Colters Woman and had the same reaction you did. This was not one of Maya Banks' best books. However, I loved Be With Me and all of the Sweet series. I will read anything Lora Leigh writes but her Men of August series had me going WTH, lol! There's such a crazy premise to this series but I have to admit that I found most of the scenes incredibly hot! I also like the last five books in her Bound Hearts series - the "Pleasures" books. I enjoy this genre of books for the most part. However, I do find myself wishing that just once we would see this scenario: As her multiple partners try to convince her that she can take them both (or 3 or 5) at the same time (which of course means one of them is going via the back door) and that she is going to love it, the virgin woman would look at them with her big soulful eyes and say: " Hell no!" or "You go first - if you like it I might consider it." My point is, the women in these books always enjoy it and I have to believe that somewhere there is a woman who wouldn't - at least initially! While I enjoy a good menage story, I just cannot get into BDSM. I would punch a man in the throat if he thought I was going to call him Sir or Master or if he thought he was going to "punish" me for some imagined offense with a spanking. Again, can we have just one woman say " Ouch! That hurt! Do it again and draw back a nub buddy!" after the first swat? Okay, I got that off my chest. I do realize that my suggestions go against the point of these books and even though I will always have those thoughts in the back of my mind, I can look past it and enjoy a good story!
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