Monday, August 22, 2011

When Two Are Not Enough

When I first started writing ménage, I was a naïve little author. I had an idea for a story about a young Regency wife and three lords who all wanted her for different reasons. But…three lords? Would readers be okay with that?

(As I said, I was naïve and hadn’t yet read enough ménage. I’ve since corrected that situation.)

So I posed the question during a reader chat. How many M’s is too many? Would an M/F/M/M book be okay? What if I threw in another M? The consensus seemed to be that you can’t have too many M’s. The more the merrier, apparently.

But still, I wonder. There must be a line somewhere. At what point does it turn into group sex in which it may not really matter what the characters are like. For me, as a reader, I want to be able to distinguish the men from each other. And that requires characterization.

If you had six men in a scene, would you be able to tell them apart? What about ten? According to Wikipedia, group sex is anything involving more than two participants. So a ménage is a form of group sex. But to me, a threesome is different from a four-way, and once you bring in more men, things get even more complicated.

While trying to pin down the difference between an “extended ménage” and a plain old orgy, I came across this weird fact. The world orgy record belongs to Japan. 250 men and 250 women participated – it was all filmed and very well-organized. But was it sexy? I’m not sure about that.

As you can see in this photo, there’s not a lot of heated emotion. And maybe that’s the difference between “ménage” and “group sex.” A ménage gets its hotness from the connection we feel to the characters and that they feel for each other. Group sex is more about the outrageousness – it’s pure sex, minus the emotion. Maybe it's not a question of "how many" but of "who," and "why."

But what do you think? How many M’s is too many for you? Where would you draw the line between ménage and a straight-up orgy?

In case you're curious, here's the book I ended up writing about that scandalous Regency wife.


How is one innocent country girl to choose between a Duke, a Marquis and an Earl? Must she?

When Miss Alicia Silverwood marries the Earl of Dorchester, he whisks her off to Notre Plaisir, a country manor where erotic surprises await in the company of three powerful lords.
The young Earl needs a wife and heir. The cynical Marquis de Beaumont needs a playmate. And the commanding Duke of Warrington needs a reason to live. As for the new Lady Dorchester, she’s about to discover the true nature of her own sensual needs. On top of that, she’s falling in love.

It might take a miracle for Lady Alicia and her three lords come to an arrangement that makes them all happy. Or perhaps all that’s required is a little scandalous rule- breaking.

Click on the cover if you'd like to read an excerpt.

Happy Monday!

Juniper Bell


Stacey said...

Great blog, as usual, Juniper! I absolutely loved My Three Lords!

MiaAshlinn said...

I will have to check out the book. Soon.

I love a good menage, and I never complain when a book has more than two men. To me, three plus men can be enjoyable as long as the writer is able to keep the sex emotional. I find reading a story about a bunch of guys who are just trying to satiate their lust with any willing woman is quite distateful. I know of several memorable books that contained 3+ men. As far as how many men is too many, I think it is very dependent on the writer. As long as the writer is up to the challenge that multiple partners present, I think that it can be very hot.

In my mind, orgies are very different creature than menages and sharing. The picture that you posted is what I think of as an orgy. I think of a room filled with a bunch of couples having sex and the partners changing as needed. More often than not, I find orgies tend to limit the double and triple penetrations. Not all of them do this; however, most of the videos and pictures that I have seen have been filled with one person having sex with another person at any given time. To me, when people share, they have more than just taking turns. Although, it is not necessarily a bad thing when they only take turns. I just find that to me double (or triple) penetration goes hand-in-hand with sharing.

Moreover, I do not know that I believe that people participating in orgies CAN or DO have any emotion involved. When you have multiple couples having sex in the same room, but not really interacting, you cannot convince me of any depth of emotion. It is purely lust. The lack of emotion makes it far too clinical for me. If there is no love (or even like), I think of it as a waste. I think that there should be some level of emotion when anyone has sex whether it is love, like, or even friendship. I am not sure that it is really possible to have any or all of these feelings in an orgy setting. However, I must admit that I do not really know the answer to this because I have never participated in an orgy, and I have no plans to join one in the immediate future. :)

Btw, interesting blog. It really made me think. Sorry about the length of my comment. I tend to be long-winded.

heather said...

It's a book, it's all about fantasies and writing about what you can't do in real life. In reality, I can see a threesome working but anymore than that in a relationship I don't see happening (but thats my opinion). But in a book, a four-way is perfect and very hott. Even if you want to go up to 5 or 6 in the relationship, thats great. If somebody doesn't like that many in a sexual relationship or finds it grotesque or who's just going to be judgemental about, why are you reading the book?

Great topic :)

nix said...

Ooooh, I'll have to look up this book. I enjoy menage books, but I think there is a line where it becomes more about how many people you can fit into a book and not how sexy it is. I recently read a M/F/F/M/M and I enjoyed it, so I went looking at more "extreme menage" books. I think I found my limit at a M/M/M/M/M/M/M/M book...after reading the blurb it just sounded like a giant jigsaw puzzle, so I left well alone.

I agree with what you said about the sex being hot because of the feelings and characterisations of the major players. In this book, I doubt I would have been able to keep names and personalities straight, so it would have taken away from my enjoyment of the book. If a book is to be classed as a Romance, then I need to care about every individual character and therefore their HEA. If its Erotica, then that doesn't matter too much and you can get away with more players :D

MiaAshlinn said...

I am in complete agreement with Heather. Books are fantasy, not reality. It is a way of escaping. A way to live a life that you might dream about, but would never actually live.

Would I really participate in a menage in real life (whether it is two men or ten men)? No. However, there is something about them that I find to be absolutely and completely riveting. I say, "the more, the merrier" in my little fantasy book world.

If someone doesn't want to read these, then they don't have to buy them. They are not being forced in any way. And, they cannot truthfully say that they did not know what they were getting. Seriously. Hello, have you seen the book covers? :)

Juniper Bell said...

I really appreciate all the indepth responses here!! You all have some fascinating thoughts on this topic. I'm a big believer in fantasy too. I can explore things in a book (reading or writing) that would alarm me in real life. LOL. It's definitely true that what works for one person will leave another cold. That's part of what makes human beings so endlessly interesting. Thanks for the fascinating comments!

And Mia - no such thing as too longwinded! Loved it!

MiaAshlinn said...

Thanks Juniper. That is not something I hear every day. Usually, I am described as long-winded, loquaciuos (my personal fave), talkative, etc. Not that I mind too long as I am not annoying others. It is just who I am. :)