The Reality of the Fantasy
In some of the ménage romances I’ve read, everything is smooth and easy. There may be some conflict among the characters as the relationship forms, but sometimes there is no conflict, and even when there is, it often is easily resolved.
A couple years ago, a writer friend of mine said she didn’t like ménage romances because they weren’t realistic. She couldn’t understand why two men would be willing to share a woman (or two women share a man). She couldn’t understand the mindset that would allow such a relationship to exist.
I sensed a challenge. I know people who are in polyamorous relationships, ménage or more, or who have a core relationship but date other people on the side with their spouse’s knowledge and permission. I wanted to show my friend that it could be possible for a ménage relationship to not only exist but to work.
Then that friend invited me to submit to a new imprint she’d been tapped to do some editing for, and I had reason to meet the challenge.
Shiny Objects grew from the seed of that challenge as well as a situation in my own life which spawned a “what if.” Elena, the heroine of the story, is happy with her live-in boyfriend Corin. They’re planning a future together: marriage, kids, a house, etc.
And then she runs into her former lover Niko at a party, and realizes that although a year and a half have passed since the last time they spoke, her feelings for him haven’t faded. Nor have his feelings for her.
Elena fights her attraction to Niko. She doesn’t want to cheat on Corin. She doesn’t want to play with either man. But she can’t help how she feels. When she unintentionally kisses Niko and confesses to Corin, Corin offers her the opportunity to pursue things with Niko and see what happens, despite his own anger and dislike of the idea.
Don’t get me wrong. Corin isn’t a pushover. Corin’s goal in life is to make Elena happy, and he hopes that if she “gets this out of her system” with Niko, she’ll be able to settle more happily into their planned marriage. He doesn’t want her dating another man, but he’s willing to go along with it if it’s temporary.
For Niko’s part, he’s willing to share Elena because she’s one of the few people he’s ever trusted enough to let behind the wall he’s built around himself, and sharing her with Corin is better than not having her at all.
Elena feels guilty for wanting both men. She wonders what it says about her as a person if she’s in love with two men at the same time. But she doesn’t want to give up either man. She genuinely does love them both.
Shiny Objects doesn’t present the relationship as smooth and easy. There’s a lot of negotiation between Elena and each of the men. A lot of conflict as the three of them try to adjust to the situation. Even the happy ending leaves open the possibility that it doesn’t stay happy forever, though it seems to be heading that way. I asked my polyamorous friends for input into the story, and I think I presented a fairly accurate picture of a realistic ménage relationship.
Did I succeed? If you want to be the judge, you can find Shiny Objects on the publisher’swebsite, or on third-party retailers. You can find out more about me and my books on my website, or by joining my Facebook group.
Here’s a short excerpt to whet your appetite.
Elena is happy in her relationship with her live-in boyfriend Corin. But when she runs into her former lover Niko at a party, she realizes she still has feelings for him. Her attempt to form a friendship with Niko goes off-course when the two of them kiss.
When she confesses to Corin, he encourages her to not only remain friends with Niko, but to pursue a relationship with the other man. At first Niko has no objections, but the two men soon become rivals, and Elena isn't sure she can handle being shared.
As she puttered, making Niko’s cup of coffee, she kept an ear on the conversation in the living room. For the first few minutes, it consisted of more strained chatter. Finally, just as she poured boiling water into her cup, Niko said, “Elena said you wanted to know the man you’re sharing her with.”
Corin coughed, as though he’d choked on something. “I guess that’s one way to put it,” he agreed. “I just want to make sure no one, Elena especially, ends up hurt in this.”
“Most people would care more about whether they themselves end up hurt,” Niko said.
“Elena’s very important to me,” Corin replied firmly. “If it came to a choice between me being hurt or her, I’d choose myself.”
“I admire that,” Niko said. “I question it, but then again, I don’t know you well enough to say if you’d stick to it.”
“I already have. I told her it would be okay if she saw you.”
Elena flinched as though she’d been struck in the heart. She hadn’t expected Corin to state so bluntly how he felt about her relationship with Niko. Especially not to Niko himself. More than ever, she wished she’d never kissed Niko, that she’d never put herself or the men into this situation.
Wishing did no good. She couldn’t change the past.
She stirred the coffee and carried the cup to Niko, with a pasted-on smile. “Caffeine,” she announced unnecessarily.
“Thanks.” Niko took a sip of it then set the cup in front of him on the coffee table. Looking at Corin, he said, “I told Elena after we met at Laurie’s party that I wouldn’t do anything to come between her and you. I guess like you, I’d do whatever I could to make sure she isn’t hurt.”
Tears pricked her eyes, and Elena blinked rapidly to keep them back. “Just stop,” she begged quietly. “No one wants to see anyone hurt. Right now, I feel like I’ve screwed up both your lives, and I hate feeling that way.” She swallowed the lump in her throat.
“You haven’t.” Corin reached for her hand. “Honey, that isn’t what I meant at all.”
“Me either,” Niko said firmly. “You should know me better than that. If something screwed up my life, it wouldn’t be part of my life anymore.”
She did know that. He didn’t have room for anything he didn’t like. Knowing that made her feel a little better, though guilt still ran through her.
“Then tell me what you meant,” she pleaded, sinking onto the loveseat beside Corin. “Look, I just-- This is what I was afraid of. That I was being greedy, and that having both of you wouldn’t work.”
“We’ll make it work,” Niko said roughly. “If it’s what you want, we’ll make it work.”
“What about what you guys want?”
Corin ran his hand through his hair. “I want to know that you aren’t leaving me,” he said after a moment. “I want to know that every night, you’ll be in our bed, even if you’ve been with Niko earlier that night.”
“Which works for me, because I have nowhere for her to sleep,” Niko said. “Having a roommate isn’t always conducive to having sleepover guests.”
Corin nodded. “Okay. That takes care of one of my concerns.”
“I’m not leaving you,” Elena said, resting her hand on his knee. “I told you that. That’s why I didn’t want to do this at first, because I knew you’d be worried about that. I don’t want Niko instead of you.” She took a deep breath. “I don’t understand it, because I always thought of myself as a two-person relationship kind of woman, but the truth is, I want both of you.”