Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Three's a Crowd?

While feverishly googling myself today, I came across a discussion on Amazon (that naturally I didn't bookmark) where someone suggested Forbidden Shores (yes, me, my book, coming out in less than five weeks... oh, shoot me) was Signet Eclipse's first shy foray into the wonderful world of menage.

I'm not too keen on the term menage. Menage a trois, fine. But menage alone--well to me it has an aura of inappropriate domesticity. The heroine, with a complacent air, saunters through the marketplace, trailing her fingertips over the plump surface of an eggplant. Yes, that one. Mmmm. Very nice. Behind her traipse two men with shopping baskets, obedient and domesticated. You know they can't wait to get home, put on their aprons, and start slicing and dicing.

So I wonder about the mania for menage. And not stopping at three, but four, five... I read one with six last night. I think it was six; it could have been seven. Only one, the leader of the pack, actually got to do it with the lady (thank you, Monty Python). The others just helped out in a selfless sort of way, politely turning away when their corks were about to pop. The logistics and choreography impressed me; I have trouble if three or more characters are talking.

And I wonder if this is yet another instance of how erotic romance is becoming its own worst enemy--that if you have more than two people having sex there are specific ways to write it. I keep thinking of the 2006 Passionate Ink lunch in Atlanta where one of the speakers declared that we all wanted two gorgeous (alpha, of course) men with their two gorgeous eggplants and I was embarrassed for the waiters. Not apparently two women and one man--readers didn't want it, although I think it has far more interesting possibilities. My editor told me my threesome scenes should be all about the heroine's pleasure, even though we both knew in real life they'd be comparing scars and talking sports at worst or being obnoxiously, rampantly, competitive at best.

In Forbidden Shores, the menage is not a happy one. Without giving away too much of the plot, each of the three characters is in love with the one who doesn't love them back. Curiosity, lust, and a desperate need to do something--anything--to resolve the situation (and please the loved one) drive them into a rather clumsy experiment. They find themselves trapped by it (the original title of the book was Chained) and not much happier.

And it's the heroine who suggests it and gets the most out of it, the greedy girl.

So how do you approach your menage scenes?
And do you think a HEA with a menage in a historical is possible?


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3 comments:

Celia May Hart said...

Um, my menage a' trois (and there's only been one, so far, I think) are generally of the taking turns variety -- and for the record, two women and one man -- with the third person getting off on observing. I have an unpublished story that has two men and a woman and it takes serious choreography and figuring out where everybody is all the time...

Your book sounds fab by the way!

Pam Rosenthal said...

Wonderful post, Jane. And wonderful book, folks. Check it out.

I haven't done groups in romance -- group tumbles sometimes happen offstage, but I hew to couples convention in my actual graphic scenes.

In the Carrie books, tho, I love groups. A la Story of O, people usually take turns, because voyerism is so much a part of the turnon for me -- you can be done to, after all, quite happily, while watching others being done to (and I'm big on everybody knowing everything that's happening while it's happening).

Luckily at the time I never knew about this supposed ironclad law of MMF, so I did it in a more equal opportunity way, which is to say whoever turned me on at the moment got a turn. Food scenes are helpful when doing orgies -- I have happy memories of writing the line, "And if you drop those peas, Jane, we'll slap your breasts until you scream." And I enjoyed putting Carrie into bed with two gorgeous young women and having her imagine they were Laurie Partridge and Marcia Brady.

Kate Pearce said...

well I hope they can work because I'm writing one at the moment :)
Yes, it's a big emotional mess but I'm trying to write my way through that with my characters and see if I really can make them all get their own HEA-I think I can, I'll let you know in a couple of months!

"Simply Sexual" the first Kensington Regency has a very uneasy menage in it which ultimately cannot work but helps the characters work out who and what they really need. Book #2, the one I mentioned above, carries that theme even further.

I don't write it because its supposed to be popular, I'm just fascinated by the ramifications of emotional/sexual ties and relationships and its something I just had to explore in my writing.

I LOVED that image of the 2 guys with the shopping baskets!!