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