Saturday, June 28, 2008

Menage, Ellora's Cave Style by guest blogger Raelene Gorlinsky

I immodestly take onto myself the credit for launching the extremely popular trend of ménage stories at EC. We had a couple of ménage stories from pre-2004, but the flood really didn’t start until I remarked in an online interview how much I enjoyed ménage stories and that I’d love to see more of them. (I think the first EC one I read was Stephanie’s Ménage by Mari Byrne in 2003.) Authors are no dummies – the publisher likes ménage stories, the publisher shall become inundated with ménage stories. The authors I edited especially responded quickly to the call. Happy Birthday, Baby by Lynn LaFleur, Lucy’s Double Diamonds by Ruby Storm, Double Jeopardy by Rachel Bo, the Two Men and a Lady anthology – I enjoyed reading and editing them all.

And sales proved that readers also wanted ménage stories – a lot of them. After all, what’s not to love for a female reader – two men to lavish attention and love and lust on the lucky heroine. [This is likely why f/m/f ménage stories are not currently popular with most women. Who wants to have to share their man with another woman and get only half his attention? ;-) ]

The original ménage stories were mainly male/female/male – the two guys had sex (separately and together) with the heroine, but didn’t touch each other. Then the m/f/m ménages started to include a bit of m/m action in order to push the envelope, and readers decided they liked that. So now m/m/f ménages are the hottest thing, with all three participants having sex in all combinations. We had a limited few such stories from 2004 on, but early 2006 is when they really took off. Although male/male stories overall have become a hot fad with heterosexual female readers, the m/m/f ménages are even more popular – they allow the woman reader to identify more with the story, envision herself in the heroine’s role.

Like I think many readers, I did not originally believe I’d care for male/male sex even within ménages. Then this new author named Samantha Kane submitted a Regency-set ménage story to a contest I judged. The first chapters that were part of the contest entry only hinted that there was some male/male action to come, but I loved the beginning so much that I thought I’d give it a try (and I gave it first place in the contest category). “The rest is history” – Samantha’s Brothers In Arms stories are amongst our best selling e books .

No matter how many ménage stories you read, there is always variety. The setting and plots and the way the trios get together and interact can be different in every book. Menage stories can be not only “real life” contemporaries and historicals, but also futuristics or paranormals or fantasies. It could be a society where three-way marriages are the norm, or a ménage involving shapeshifters or aliens. My website bio used to say that my dream story would be a futuristic paranormal with a vampire/werewolf/psychic ménage – and Liddy Midnight and Cricket Starr sat down and wrote Rogues for me.

I love the exciting and varied sex in ménages. I love the complex interaction of three personalities, so many more nuances and potential issues than in just a pair. I love the sex…oh, I said that already, didn’t I?

Raelene Gorlinsky, Publisher
Ellora's Cave Publishing Inc.


  1. I guess the popularity of a menage story lies in the fantasy factor. When we sit down to read a book, we like to let our imagination go scot free & we like it even more if the author is doing the same.
    Books, specially involving stories provide a relief from the daily grind , trials & tribulations & restrictions of life.
    Aristotle defined Man as a rational being. But Man is NOT a rational being & it is good that he is not, and that is good, because it is through the irrationality, all that is beautiful and lovely exists.
    Man is a myth and a gossip creating being. The great thing about myths is the heart factor which makes life beautiful.If you try to kill a myth by rationalization you kill the heart, which in turn makes life meaningless, without poetry & without a reason to be happy.
    Without a myth, a story, the world would just be a marketplace and all temples will disappear. Without a myth, all relationships will be a bargain and there will be no love in them. Without a myth you will be alone in vast emptiness.

    Stories, myths, imaginations breaks stress, anxiety and prevent you from finding other ways of relief ( drugs, alcohol etc.) to drown yourself into.

    Stories & myths may be a beautiful gossip, but they help you to live. It give a human atmosphere around you. Otherwise the world is very stony.

  2. Wow, Mona. You are terribly profound and as insightful as ever. I like to think there is rationality in the myth in order to make sense of the chaos in man's mind. For the purposes of the menage, it is the rational organization of a relationship which is required and within which the beauty of the myth (sexual involvment) become satisfying for the reader. It is the peace which we provide our readers in an unsteady state.

    When you present an argument for the purpose of changing minds, the goal is to present the material in such a way as to affect tension within the listener, without that tension, change is not necessary or imperative. However, as the speaker continues, building tension and creating a problem, the solution is provided as a conclusion. Why? Because the satisfying ending provided by the speaker resolves the tension in the listener so that the listener will agree your idea satisfied the dilemma.

    Writing is like that. In the case of menage, a threesome is an immediate introduction of instability. We are programmed by society to find balance in the two. But as writers placing three together, the reader is immediately prepared for the imbalance and tension of a relationship. The writer continues that sense throughout the plot until the writer also provides the balance, let's say a tripoding of the relationship between three people which equally support the unit as a whole, and thereby satisfying that tension into a satisfying conclusion.

    You could argue then that a menage is a romance writer's ultimate argument for balance and that the conflict in the plot-physical and emotional-more relieving than a traditional two person romantic ending.

    Order within the chaos. While humans are beautiful and rely on their myths, they do require the balance of their beings. Rationality balancing with myth to create the satisfying whole.

    *yikes. Gonna go get coffee now. too early for philisophical discussions. heh*

  3. For a female, menage offers the ultimate security. Aside from the sexual aspect, there is added protection for her and their children. Two (or more) protectors and providers for the family.

    I suspect that the additional protector/provider aspect also makes menage attractive--even if the reader is unaware of that aspect on a conscious level.

    Yes, the sex is important. But underneath, the reader is uncomfortable with the suggestion of sex only unless there is a hint of permanency and commitment.

  4. Another possible subliminal aspect behind the fantasy. In every relationship there are ups and downs, and times where you're not happy with the other person. In a menage situation, you still have someone else to talk to during those times. Also if one party is too tired, cranky, whatever to have sex, there's still another...

  5. And you are always desired, prized enough to hold the attention of two men all the time, when one might otherwise drift. You are their Siren and they'd rather share you than have one woman all to themselves. You are the one they come home to and please. You are the one who "does it" for them. It's like a "Queen" syndrome. They are your consorts but definitely there to serve your needs. Okay yes there is reciprocity but still.

  6. Well, I really enjoy the fantasy aspect of the menage story but I'm still working on being comfortable with the m/m thing. It's something I may have to work up to I guess. I can understand, as James said yesterday, why the guys like the f/f/m fantasy and I suspect it's for the same reasons women prefer m/m/f. The idea of having all that sexual attention lavished freely is a huge fantasy.

    Hey Raelene! Thanks for guest blogging for us. I'm sooo glad you kicked off the current trend. We're all very thankful. It has made life MUCH more INTERESTING.

  7. Hey Guys! Thanks for the mention, Raelene. You know, in that same contest one of the judges told me it was too soon for my characters to have sex and I'd have no book at that rate. LOL I don't believe she was familiar with the genre. ;-)

    I believe the m/m/f menage is the ultimate female fantasy. It is more accessible to female readers. As Raelene said, m/m is popular but a female reader can't insert themselves into that fantasy. M/m/f menage they can. Any more than two men and it can be overwhelming, although there are readers who enjoy that as well. But two men to sexually and emotionally satisfy a woman, and she gets to watch? Yep, that's the ticket. But I also agree that the added security is a big plus, too. There is always an element of that in my m/m/f menages.

    Great topic!

  8. Thanks for the plug, Raelene. :-)

    Seriously, I loved writing Happy Birthday, Baby and contributing a story in the Two Men and a Lady anthology. Those stories were m/f/m and such fun to write. I've since drifted into the m/m/f arena, first with Michelle's Men, and now with my current book that I'm writing called Capsized.

    I think it's definitely fun for women to read these sexy stories of threesomes. I know I love reading them, and love writing them even more.


  9. I have to agree with everything everyone said. My best sellers so far have been menage stories and they are such fun to write. A glass of wine, some soft music in the CD player and I can elt my fantasies run wild. Do I prefer blonds? Raven-black hair? I can have them both? Which are better-blue eyes or deep brown? again, I can have them both. And the idea of not just having sex with two men at the same time but also watchign them pleasure each other is such a turnon I wonder why I waited so loing to write about it. Raelene, once again you were in the vanguard of what the reader wants...and wants more of. Here's to threesomes-and maybe more!

  10. I love the idea of menage stories however, I would love a well done a f/f/m menage!! I hear they don't sell well but why not? I'd certainly buy it. What if EC posted a poll on the website to see if readers would be interested in f/f lit.
    :-( I'm feelin' left out.

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