Considering Reverse Harem Stories

Have you read a reverse harem story? Do you know what they are? Essentially they are romances involving one woman and at least three men. Two men would make it menage-a-trois, which is another category of romance. I have been told by one writer of reverse harem stories, that this is not a group sex/orgy type of book, but the woman has encounters with each man one-on-one. The focus is on the developing romantic relationships between each pairing, while the men also develop relationships with each other of a non-sexual nature.

I’ve not really read them, after learning about them last year. I happened to run across a book bundle with four or five inside by the same author, so I picked it up and so far have read two of the stories.

This writer has a particular formula. I don’t know if applies to the genre in general or not, but there are some things I found interesting about the formula as a writer. First, in these books, the woman doesn’t know the men. She meets them one by one, usually, though one many usually has a male friend with whom he’s shared a girlfriend before, and it was something they wish to repeat again.

I think this experienced couple of men is fundamental to the way she tells her reverse harem stories, because they can reassure both the woman and the other men that this can be a healthy and normal relationship. In other words, they give a kind of permission for everyone to participate in what is currently socially taboo behavior.

The woman also has a problem that she doesn’t want to ask for help for. She’s independent and spunky the men all admire and want her. There’s an insta-love sort of quality to these stories because there isn’t a lot of time to develop each romance with any depth, so the reader just has to buy that they fall in love without a lot of evidence. There’s almost no conflict between the woman and each of the men. The conflict tends to be exterior in the shape of whatever problem the woman has, and complicated by the fact that she either doesn’t want help, or doesn’t want to tell them she needs help, Often she’s in money trouble.

The men want to help her through not giving her money, but helping her dig herself out and supporting her while she does. In other words, it’s not exactly a rescue. Nor is it a “we’ll help you for sex” situation. They like her and want to help her and the implication and sometimes explicitly stated motivation is that she deserves their help whether she’s romantically involved with any of them or not.

In both these books, they five (four men and the woman) end up moving in together after each realizes they all want her and they are willing to compete and let her choose. Of course she realizes she loves them all and can’t choose, and decides to call the whole thing off. She can’t bear to hurt any one of them by picking just one and she can’t imagine that they would want to maintain the relationship, but of course, they all do. She’s just that amazing.

She has sex with each man individually, and toward the end, there’s a kind of five-way with all the men involved, touching and kissing and pleasing her, which makes them all happy. There’s no male-on-male sex. No hint that they even touch each other while they are all naked with the woman.

I have to admit, part of me kept thinking . . . wow, what a lot of work to have sex with multiple men. It feels good and she’s terrifically happy, but combined with working and living life, that doesn’t give her a lot of time to just relax. Maybe relaxation is overrated when you can have that many mind-blowing orgasms.

One other thing that I noticed is that she has to constantly reassure herself that she’s not a slut. Her word. That having sex with multiple partners doesn’t make her an awful person. I found this annoying. It’s not that I don’t get the reason why. Society says that women who have multiple sex partners, whether dating them at the same time or serially, are whores. Readers have subconscious biases against women who do have and enjoy sex with multiple men.

Men who like sex and horndog sex, on the other hand, are just players and that makes them more manly. And the men in these stories clearly don’t have issues having multiple sex partners. It’s never suggested that they are anything less than manly men. But it has to be repeated that the women are not sluts or whores, that they really are good women, and sometimes this is reinforced by them cooking amazing meals for all the men, or being domestic in some other fashion, or being really kind and generous and the fact that they worry about what might be thought about them shows that they are really good women.

The fantasy of these novels is really the chosen one fantasy. And not just one amazingly handsome, nice, wealthy, kind, generous, and big-dicked men, but four. And they are so obsessed with her that they are willing to share her with other men. In fact, it’s a good thing because they won’t have to worry about her when they are working (all tend to have their own businesses or be workaholics). Nor will they have to feel guilty for not giving her enough of their time and attention.

I’m curious about other reverse harem novels and how they approach the story. I have to admit that while this author worked hard to make the stories robust with developed characters, I found the stories a little thin and flat. Not enough depth and not filling enough. Also a bit repetitive and not enough real conflict for me.

Does anyone read these? Do you have a favorite author or book? How do other books approach this type of story?


  • Steven

    What about IRL reverse harem situations? Do participation partners report jealousy or other types of conflict? ie Male 3 won’t help with chores. The formula reverse harem novel sounds easy to write. Do these square with reality? That would be my question.

    • Di Francis

      In these two, no jealousy. It question of it is addressed in that the men notice in surprise that they aren’t jealous. In fact, everyone is very giving, very generous, very positive about the living situation and each other. It’s definitely fairytale fantasy and of course, they don’t really go into how it works out. There’s no time and the book ends like many romances with the declarations and realizations that they want to make this work.

  • Nicole Luiken

    I’ve read a couple of series with reverse harems, Their Vampire Queen by Joely Sue Burkhart and the Meredith Gentry books by Laurell K Hamilton. (I have an easier time buying it if my brain can say, Oh, this is how fae or vampire culture works.) These books have group sex and some of the guys have sex with each other as well as with the heroine. So I think the formula really depends on the author.

    • Di Francis

      You may be right. And I’ve noticed that a lot are set in space or a fantasy setting and I’m betting this is to help overcome readers’ ordinary taboos and let them accept it more easily. Good point!

  • Amy H.

    I’m not particularly a fan of the genre so much as I am a read-a-holic and Kindle Unlimited has a lot of these out there that are generally in the urban fantasy category as urban fantasy falls.
    One author I’ve really enjoyed (although it does still have its drawbacks and weaknesses) is Auryn Hadley’s Illiri series. Its definitely a chosen one series, but what I find compelling about it isn’t so much the Reverse Harem aspects of it so much as the world building that has been created. Its vaguely reminiscent of Tara K. Harper’s Wolfwalker in terms of being both futuristic sci-fi and yet traditional fantasy.
    She’s the only one I have found that I really enjoy by default with the reverse harem series. There are others that are okayish and I read, but hers are a purchase for me. Others I’ll read, but they tend to go in my “when I’m out of other books or when I’m looking for the equivalent of junkfood in books — filling a quick desire to escape but the book has no substance and isn’t memorable”. The formula of sex differs based upon your series and your author.
    I like world and character building in my books.
    Overall, one of the things I find intriguing about them as a whole is what implications their sudden rise to prevalence means for our socio-cultural situation.

  • Jeanny

    I participated in an RH challenge in 2018. Needless to say, I’ve read an unusual amount of books in an array of the genre (all fiction), from YA to Erotica. If anyone is interested or simply curious in the titles they’re all accounted for on my GR profile. my link text I agree that formula seems to be the relatively easier formulation for the author to follow. Some imo more creative alternatives include those more apocalyptic in nature. Ex an illness causing a shortage of woman, therefore, making an RH logical due to the male to female ratio. No taboo. Another option is more in line with space-themed reasoning. Ex Earth woman being abducted or an Earth treaty with (an alien race or coalition) which includes a form of battering of Human woman in exchange for protection/technology/assistance in a space war etc. In some cases, a compatibility test would occur & the woman would be drafted. My last example is of supernatural reasoning for the RH. Ex succubus needs multiple men making an RH logical. Some of the books do center around the romance & insta love but most of the books I enjoy have a slow burn & end up being a series with an overall arc that isn’t centered on the RH itself.

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