Aug 21 2012 11:00am

Author Elle Kennedy: Two’s Company—Is Three a Crowd?

Today we welcome author Elle Kennedy to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Earlier this year, Elle wrote about kick-ass heroines,  but today, she's got something else on her mind. Namely, what her heroine might be getting up to when she's not kicking ass. Her latest release, Feeling Hot, continues her Out of Uniform series, and it includes the hero and heroine inviting someone else to their party. Here's Elle talking about the difficulties of writing menage scenes. Thanks, Elle!

Threesomes. Man, are they hard. (That’s what she said). Okay, mind out of the gutter. I mean, hard to write. As a reader, I always love a good threesome in my erotic romances. As a writer, I find it difficult at times to construct a ménage a trois, not just in terms who-does-what-where-does-this-body-part-go but also the emotional ramifications that follow.

I think the following exchange between Ross and Joey from Friends really sums up some of the problems that can arise when it comes to threesomes.

Ross: Hey Joey, did you ever have a threesome?

Joey: Well uh .. look Ross I uh .. I think Carol’s great and I’m sure you’re a very attractive man, but I ...

Ross: No! The reason I’m asking is that ... I sorta had one last night.

Joey: You?

Ross: Yeah!

Joey: Wow!

Ross: Yeah!

Joey: All right! So, was it amazing?

Ross: It was ... okay.

Joey: Just okay? Did you do it right?!

Ross: Look, it’s just; did, did you ever go to a party and think, “Would anyone really miss me if I weren’t here?”

Joey: Huh. But still Ross, your worst day with two women, pretty much better than any other day! Y’know what I mean?

Ross: Oh-oh, absolutely!

(They both laugh.)

Ross: It’s just, my part seemed to be over pretty quickly and then, there was a lot of waiting around.

Joey: But you got to be with both of them, right?

Ross: No-not really. Th-there was just Carol.

Joey: Not the other one?

Ross: No, she kept kicking me away!

Joey: Yeah, you don’t want that.

Ross: No!

Joey: Well hey, at least you got to see a lot of stuff, right?

Ross: Oh I got to see a lot of stuff!

Joey: You got a little bored?

Ross: A little. Yeah. I made a snack.

Joey: Yeah? What did you have?

Ross: Just a sandwich. Turkey, a little mustard ...

Joey: Sounds good.

Ross: It really was!

Okay, so Ross’s ménage was m/f/f, which I think is even harder to manage because I feel like one woman can accommodate two men better than one man can accommodate two women. But the potential for being left out still occurs in either version.

My latest sexy contemporary, Feeling Hot, releases next week, and the book features a threesome that did offer a few problems for me. 

1) It was my heroine’s first ménage, and she was also an anal virgin and not interested in back door action, so I couldn’t make this ménage too raunchy or overwhelming for her. 

2) The hero’s best friend participates, and the two men share an intense heat-of-passion type moment, so I was worried their friendship would suffer or become awkward as a result.

One of the most important things for a scene like this to succeed is to make the heroine feel as comfortable as possible. The needs of the men in such a scene should be secondary. I think all ménages need to include that element, and not just on the part of the men. Everyone involved should feel that way—Wanting to give rather than take. Actually caring about the person/people in your bed, considering their feelings, their comfort, instead of focusing on yourself.

For a menage scene to have resonance, it helps if all three of the characters care about each other, but are not moving towards a committed ménage romance. This is a romance between a hero and a heroine, who happen to engage in a threesome during their sexual journey. You always hear people say “the third person has to be a stranger!” when talking about three-ways. I agree that it’s definitely easier to resolve any post-menage awkwardness if the third is someone you won’t see (or see often) ever again.

But I find that threesomes are hotter, more effective, have higher stakes, offer more tension, etc. if the third person is someone you know. It provides drama and conflict that needs to be dealt with, which is another obstacle for a writer.  If the third is the hero’s best friend, how is it NOT going to be awkward afterward? It's important to emphasize how close the men are and how solid their friendship is, so that when the morning after came, readers would be able to believe that these two men care about and respect each other and won’t let a night of hot sex put a strain on that close-knit bond.

One of my favorite authors, Lorelei James, is a master at writing sizzling sex scenes, and her book Rough, Raw, and Ready offers several of intense ménage scenes that I think meet the criteria of what makes a great ménage—passion, respect, comfort, trust, humor, and dirty dirty details. And the emotional connection between the three characters is what grounds each encounter. She also handles the aftermath of these encounters like a pro, making the readers believe that these three people can make it work.

So…the threesome. Personally, I love reading a good ménage scene, but like I said, I prefer it if there is some sort of emotional connection between the characters as opposed to a loving couple bringing a stranger into their midst. And I think it’s very important that every participant gets equal attention. No one should be going to get a sandwich mid-menage.  No one!

What are your thoughts about threesomes? Love 'em?  Hate 'em? What are your favorite romance novels that feature a ménage?

One commenter will be entered in a draw to win an e-copy of Feeling Hot,* so don’t be shy. Share your opinion J

*To enter for a chance to win a copy of Elle Kennedy’s e-book Feeling Hot, make sure you’re a registered member of the site, and then simply leave a comment about the post below.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at https://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/blogs/2012/08/author-elle-kennedy-twos-company-is-three-a-crowd beginning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) August 21, 2012. Sweepstakes ends at 10:59 a.m. ET on August 27, 2012 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at https://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/page/official-rules-elle-kennedy-feeling-hot-comment-sweepstakes. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Miss_D
I think Cameron Dane is really good at writing menage scenes that show the emotional connections of all the characters as well as them being hot moments. Lena Mathews has done a few as well.

I'm weird in my menages where sometimes I'm fine with the focus being the two men trying to please the woman but other times, I deliberately go for the menage where the men interact with one another too. I actually prefer this more because I feel like when it's the 2 men focused on the 1 woman, it's not a true menage relationship because the men aren't emotionally involved/invested in each other... unless the author makes them brothers, which 90% seem to be, in order to deal with that aspect. At that point, it's less of a love story and more erotica, which is fine if that's what is wanted.

For me, a good menage book has the emotional connection flowing well between all the characters. It always takes me a bit out of a story if it's written in a manner where two of the characters are more emotionally involved with the remaining character coming off as a third wheel. I've come across a few books like that and I end up feeling frustrated for that character & a bit irritated at the author for doing that because who wants a love story where the third is an afterthought? That's not very compelling nor romantic.

I'm curious about the Lorelei James posted... is that a multicultural romance? Cause I've seen that cover before on a MC book. I may check it out though the reviews on Amazon are mixed.
2. Renable
I agree with Miss_D. There has to be a connection between all three parties. I do prefer the m/m/f variety of ménage in my reading too. And if the guys should happen to be somewhat attracted to each other and maybe act on that, so much the better! ;)
Barbara Bauschka
4. njoireading
Kate Pearce always seems to have the right words to describe her menages and the aftermath. I have enjoyed her Simply series.
5. Kat Levato
I really enjoy the way Sophie Oak writes ménage. There is such a strong feeling of partnership and mutual respect with all her characters.
6. Tammye
I love the way that Emma Holly did the menage in her book "Menage". The male characters already had an established relationship before the female character got involved. Hot! Hot! Hot!
Laurie Rivera
7. leb
I haven't read very many books featuring menage scenes, but I am
definitely going to check out this one. Thanks to everyone who commented for the additional recommendations!
8. Carin W
I agree the whole menage thing could get really messy emotionally real fast, Carin
Jennifer Walter
9. jlc341
I agree with Miss_D as well. I've enjoy reading most of the books that had menages in them. The books where the men interact with each other adds a new dimension that I enjoy reading as well. There have been a few that I've read where the menage led to a loving relationship between only two of the three people involved that actually worked well, but for me those have been far and few between.

Thanks Tammye for the recommendation of Emmy Holly's Menage. I will also be checking out the Lorelei James book. I have been curious about her books for a while, just haven't gotten there yet. Of course, Elle Kennedy's book looks really good too.
10. wsl0612
What I do not understand is your comment " m/f/f, which I think is even harder to manage because I feel like one woman can accommodate two men better than one man can accommodate two women" Why would it have to be the man accommodating 2 women? Why can't the woman accommodate the man and woman? Why are romance readers so easily accepting the intimacy of 2 men together in a menage but not 2 women?
Virginia Green
11. vloveg
My favorite menage story so far has been Coming Clean by Inez Kelley, about a married couple and the man who brought them together (and loves them both). Plenty of tenderness and angst on all sides as they each consider coming together and finally make it to bed.
Lenna Hendershott
12. Glittergirl
One of my favorite menage authors is Emma Holly. Some of her menage scenes have stuck with me over time. Strange Attractions is one of my favorites as is Menage as mentioned in the coments above. Her Demon Series is great and it's an auto-buy for me when she releases one. Fairyville has also stuck with me and I wish she'd make it into a series. It has a lot of potential. She can craft a story with characters you come to care a lot for and her sex scenes are scorching and memorable. If you're looking for her books be aware she's gone indie and the newer ones are print on demand. I've been able to get them at B&N but mostly I've gone digital as it's easier...
13. ElleKennedy
Wow, I'm excited about all these recommendations!! I'm definitely going to try out some of these authors you guys have mentioned. Haven't read anything by Emma Holly, but I keep meaning to. Now I think I must :)

Also, in response to wsl0612, you are totally right! Why can't the woman accommodate the man and the other woman? Girl-on-girl doesn't seem to be as popular in romances, not compared to man-on-man. I read a romance once that featured a f/f/m scene ( not f/m/f) and I actually really liked it. But I remember the author mentioning on a blog or interview (can't remember where) that the book did not sell well AT ALL. I guess some readers don't find the f/f angle appealing....
Denise Garofalo
14. denise99
Scenes before and after "threesomes" can get awkward. Thanks for the recommendations!
15. laurenkusa
I think your description of what should make a menage work is good.
16. willaful
Strangers might work better in real life (I wouldn't know) but definitely when reading an emotional connection makes for a more compelling scene. I also find myself bored with threesomes where it's just two men devoting themselves to one woman -- I really need to see some connection between the men. There's a really interesting scenes of that type in Backstage Pass by Ollive Cunning.
Cerese Sanborn
17. flowerpower
I personally prefer to read about f/f/m pairings because I don't really like to read about anal. I don't know any authors that write menage exceedingly well, because I read them once in a blue moon. Even so, Elle's article makes me want to read her books. Now, I have a new author to try out!!!
mandy troxel
19. mandytroxel@gmail.com
and would have to agree on the ffm i want to read more books with a plot like that. does anyone have any recomendations?
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