Friday, November 16, 2012

...on Tart, Triads & that all elusive balance (Part I)

This past week reading Tart by Lauren Dane started me on an erotic romance reading binge. The common denominator? Triads and threesomes with two males and one female as the central figures of these erotic-based romances.

Why did I go on such a binge? Well, for an erotic romance involving a triad or a threesome to really work great sex between all three partners, although a top requirement, is not the only aspect of the story that I take into consideration. For me, there has to be a balanced emotional connection between the three partners involved in the relationship. Conveying that balanced connection is tricky and I find that not all authors can get close to achieving it. It has been a while since I've read erotic romances involving threesomes and after reading Tart and finding it somewhat lacking in the balance department, I decided to search, compare and see if this is even a real possibility or just wishful thinking on my part. I chose new-to-me writers instead of my old favorites for my search.

Tart by Lauren Dane is good, but not great. Juliet is part of a group of friends who call themselves Delicious. She owns a successful baking business specializing in tarts. She's content although her family life is a real mess and her sex life is sadly lacking. Jules has been in love with her friend Cal for years, but he never made a move. In comes gorgeous Gideon, an old friend who knows both Cal and Jules from their teenage years. The hunky cowboy returns to town to take care of his elderly grandfather and takes over the family farm. Sparks fly and Jules and Gideon begin a sexual relationship that quickly turns into a true romance. But Cal is not a happy camper, and afraid of losing Jules after years of loving her finally makes his move complicating matters. Well, one thing leads to another and on Gideon's suggestion, pretty soon all three are involved in a relationship.

In this erotic triad romance Jules is the center with both Cal and Gideon playing her adoring men. That aspect of the book is well done, as is the initial romance between Gideon and Jules and later the development of the relationship between Cal and Jules. The men are both bisexual, a fact that initially becomes a problem for Jules, and in this threesome they do become sexually involved from the beginning. There are some good sexual moments between the men, as well as between all three, no question about it.

Here is where my problem begins, there is a lack of balance when it comes to the emotional connections. Even with the bisexuality introduced into the relationship, this romance is all about Jules. Cal and Gideon connect sexually, but did they love each other? They say they do a few times, but I didn't really feel the love between them. Both men repeatedly say that neither can live without Jules, but can they live without each other? That never comes up, so yes... I most sincerely think they can live without each other and to me that negates the idea of a true romance between three people. There is sex, but NO romance between Cal and Gideon. None.

My other niggle with this book is that I think one of its strengths is also a weakness. The dialog and atmosphere are fluffy, light, and very contemporary. On the one hand this works because it gives the book a fresh, young contemporary feel that I really like and enjoy. However, that same light, fluffy style doesn't work at all when the need for a mature decision arises. Example: When the three people involved make the decision to be together, Gideon's proposal comes off as superficial to say the least, and later Jules jumps into their first sexual ride while still having major trust issues about Cal's bisexuality. Additionally as to the dialog, a pet peeve that might not bug others: there are phrases such as the following one throughout the book, "[...}good looking one so he would be well versed in bullshit as they tended to be. But he wasn't phoning it in with her." (meaning he wasn't being a phony or insincere). Sorry if this phrase is supposed to be "kewll and all that," but I couldn't help but cringe.

Overall Tart ended up being a C+ read for me and that's because despite my reservations, both male/female relationships are well done, the characters extremely likable, the fun, fluffy moments enjoyable, and I like how Jules finally resolves her family situation.

During my quest, while searching for that balance, I read four other erotic romances involving triads. My initial idea was to do one post with all five reads as minis, while comparing them to each other, but in the end because I'm basing my comparisons to Tart I decided to post a longer review for this book. So, expect Part II of this post in the near future. :)

What do you look for when reading an erotic romance involving a triad or threesome? Do you prefer M/M/F or M/F/M? And, in this type of read, do you think that the emotional and romantic connection should be as important as the physical and sexual hotness?


  1. Well, I think you're right about the balance thing and the connection. If there is no real emotional connection, I have a hard time enjoying this type of stories, even if I don't read them that often to begin with.

    Good luck in your quest to find balance and I look forward to part 2

    1. Alex, yes! For me at least, that balance has to be there between the 3. I think that for other readers, as long as the emotional connection is there between the woman and two men separately or individually, it is okay. For me, that is not a true "triad," but a "threesome." That's where the difference lies for me.

      Part 2 coming up!

  2. I call it "emotional accountability." While I'm still somewhat capable of enjoying a fluffy erotic read - I think my tolerance for them has seriously waned over the years (I think that happens when you've been reading erotic-anything for 10+ years!). I have little patience for characters who blithely walk through the story, screwing each others' brains out, having multiple partners etc. and there being NO emotional fallout. Humans are human. They're not machines. And sooner or later someone is going to frack up the Hot Sexy Times by having their pesky emotions get in the way. That's just human nature, pure and simple.

    I actually would love to read more F/F/M - but I suspect I'm in the minority with that as far as the romance reading population goes....

    1. Wendy, we share some of the same problems with these type of stories. I've also been reading them for a long time, but CANNOT read too many of them... I burn out. I pick them up in bunches and then don't read them again for what seems like a year or years in between. I KNOW that these are lust-based relationships, but they are called "erotic romances" so "romance" has to be a part of it as well as the sex. It's tough, tough to read these and find one with a good balance, almost impossible, actually. It's one of the reasons why I prefer reading straight out erotica (no BS about romance just sex), or my straight romance.

      Reading FFM sounds good, Wendy. I've read FF in the past, as well as lesbian speculative fiction and fantasy books -- I've reviewed only a couple? But I know what you mean about the romance reading population and being in the minority... unfortunately, it's not the most popular of sub-genres -- not in romance, never mind erotic romances involving FFM trios.

  3. I've only read 2 Lauren Dane books, but I find that her characters have very little connection to each other (or to me). I'm not motivated to read any more of her books as of now.

    Lately I've been really into the "fade to black" on the sex scenes type of book. I think I've hit my limit on sex-filled books. There really has to be an actual story to keep me interested, or have really fantastic characters for me to care about.

    1. Mariana, I've had a similar experience with Dane's characters. That's interesting.

      I read both books with "fade to black" sex scenes and sex-filled books. I've found many of the so-called "fiction" books I read have romantic relationships with both types of scenes, but mostly with "fade-to-black" and those books seem to fulfill my love of romance as well as my search for more depth in my reads. Sometimes it's tough to tell apart which books are romance and which ones erotic romance, when there are so many where the relationships are lust-based -- the insta-lust ones that pass for insta-love.

  4. Whenever there are three (or more) people involved in a romance, I need to see that all three are involved with each other, not just two involved with the third. IOW, MFM really doesn't do it for me; I need the even connection of MMF.

    My experience (although I don't read nearly as much het these days as I used to, so I'll admit my data is a bit lopsided) is that romances that come from the het side are much more likely to be MFM, as though the authors are afraid that having the guys getting it on with one another will offend some percentage of their audience. Or maybe sometimes it's the writer who goes all "Ewww!" at the thought, I don't know. MMF romances are more likely to come from the GLBT Romance side of the genre, a writer is used to the M/M part and is adding a woman to explore the "B" chunk of the acronym. (And I'll admit that this turns off a significant percentage of habitual M/M readers, so the bias isn't only on the het side.)

    But seriously, if there are three people in a bed, I need to be able to buy into the idea that all three of them are equally into one another. The point of a romance, any romance, is to end up with a stable romantic relationship. If it's just two people in love with a third but not with one another, that's nowhere within three timezones of "stable." :P

    Angie, who's finally down under 600 entries in her RSS feed reader

    1. Hey Angie! You're back from your cruise! That RSS must be a doozie. LOL

      We agree on the subject of triads. The "B" on LGBT has to be part of it if it's going to be a viable relationship (be it a MMF or a FFM relationship) to sell it to the reader, particularly if romance is part of the equation. If it's just a sexual encounter, or a passing sexual relationship, then I can go for a threesome that is only interested in the one central figure. But frankly even then I have questions...

      The point of a romance, any romance, is to end up with a stable romantic relationship. If it's just two people in love with a third but not with one another, that's nowhere within three timezones of "stable." This! You hit the nail on the head!


Anonymous Users disallowed due to large influx of spam.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.