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Saturday, August 04, 2007:
"Menage" by Emma Holly (1998)
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Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Virgin Black Lace (May 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0352341181
ISBN-13: 978-0352341181
I'll admit, as much as I love her, Emma Holly is rather hit or miss with me. I completely loved the first one I ever read, "Beyond Innocence", which kinda flipped my switch for erotic romance, but thought the second, "Beyond Seduction" was lacking the tension and romance of the previous book. I really liked "Personal Assets", but thought "Strange Attractions" was just okay. I absolutely loved "All U Can Eat" so when I was perusing the bookstore yesterday and came across some of her Black Lace stories, released in paperback, I found this one, "Menage" which immediately got my attention. Here's why:
Philadelphia bookstore owner Kate comes home from work one day to find her two flatmates in bed together. Joe - a sensitive composer - is mortified. Sean - an irrepressible bad boy - asks her to join in. As they embark on a polysexual menage a trois, Kate wants nothing more than to keep both her admirers happy. However, things become complicated. Kate has told everyone that Sean is gay, but now he and Kate are acting like lovers. Can the three of them live happily ever after - together?
I'll admit it, there's something about the m/f/m and even the m/m/f thing that does it for me in a big way. Maybe it's the whole taboo angle, the forbidden lust and all that, but whatever the reason, it works for me, especially if it's obvious the men are very masculine and dress like men and talk like men and aren't overly pretty. "Menage" does all this and more, and it appealed to me on several levels.
Divorced thirty-something bookstore owner Kate Winthrop is enthralled with her two young lodgers, twenty-something grad students Joe and Sean, both who turn her on, especially Joe, the sweet, dark-haired one that actually blushes in her presence. Catching them in bed together leads to a sexy invitation she simply cannot refuse, even if she wanted to. Indulging her own fantasies with the younger men is unexpectedly an emotional experience as it becomes evident that Joe's feelings for Kate are more than physical. Even Sean, who feels somewhat possessive of Joe, begrudgingly cannot deny his own attraction to Kate.
After a rather wicked encounter with Sean at her bookstore, and a more romantic one with Joe at her house, she begins to learn more about the guys she lives with, such as how they met, and their own personal preferences. The only rule the three share is that they don't sleep with anyone outside of the trio, yet each are willing to explore and pleasure each other in a multitude of ways. As time goes on, their sexual relationship becomes one of supportive friendship as well, as each experiences career changes and opportunities that challenge the intense yet precious connection they all share. When Joe is given a golden chance to make his dreams come true, it forces an unwelcome change to the relationship, one that takes him to New York City and away from the two people he cares about most. Will he be happier following his dream, or following his heart?
Wow, this book was hot, hot, HOT! But also wonderfully romantic and endearing. Emma Holly created an intimate setting at Kate's house for the three lovers, one that lets them play to their hearts' content. Despite my reservations when I first picked up the book (remember hit or miss?), I found Kate, Sean and Joe to be remarkably likable, what with their flaws and insecurities but also with their acceptance of their own sexuality and how they relate to each other. I couldn't help but hope that the three would stay together, finding someway to make their relationship permanent. What made the sex so hot was the fact that they cared so much for each other, wanted to keep their menage exclusively between the three of them, and had hopes and aspirations outside the bedroom. Nothing is more boring in an erotic book than to read nothing but sex scene after sex scene with nothing else to sustain the story, yet here you watch as Kate's store becomes more profitable, hear Joe sing the songs he composes, learn that Sean has a strong work ethic and is spectacularly good at accounting. I loved getting these glimpses into their lives.
Re-released in May but originally published in 1998, I had to wonder how I would have felt about this story if I'd have read it all those years ago. Would I have found it shocking, or titillating? Compared to a lot of the erotic romance out there, it's fairly standard, but 10 years ago it probably would have caused quite a sensation, right along with Bertrice Small (my first erotic romance author) and Susan Johnson.
Regardless, I bought it yesterday and finished it in one sitting, it was that good. [I highly recommend it, and am always looking for similar EH books to read. I'm not into any f/m/f or f/f/m stuff, and I don't even know if she writes any stories like that. I just want to find more stories like "Menage" and "All U Can Eat". There were several of her Black Lace stories that were out, but none of them really appealed to me, at least not at this time]. Anyway, I loved it lots and hope you do too.
Have you read Emma Holly?
If so, what's your favorite story?
Do you like to read about menages (m/f/m or m/m/f) or are you a more traditional reader?

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  1. I love Emma Holly's writing, and my favourite is PERSONAL ASSETS...

    And yes, I do enjoy reading about erotic menages, but like you, I need there to be fondness and affection between the three lovers too.

  2. Oooh! I adore Menage, Stace. My favorite Emma is probably COOKING UP A STORM. But Menage was my first Holly, and will always hold a special place in my heart.

    I love the m/m/f or m/f/m aspect of stories. I do need affection as well, but love the device, for sure.

  3. Hey Portia! Thanx for stopping by. I totally agree, the physical relationship is much hotter when there is feeling between those involved.

    MK, I saw that one at the bookstore but didn't grab it. I might have to go and buy it now.

  4. This was one of my first Emma Holly books. I loved it. I have loved most of her books, I think Strange Attractions is my least favorite so far. i liked it but not as much as the others i have read.
    I enjoy menage books alot. I just think it is an interesting balance that they are trying to acquire.

  5. She is a hit and miss for me, too. Strange attractions is my absolute favourite EH book. I don't like any of her historicals or All u can eat.

    This one disappointed me. It started off good, and the sex was hot, but I hated the ending. is worth re reading though. I'll skip the end the next time I pick it up.

  6. Hey Chantal, thanx for stopping by. You know, Joe's behavior was so out-of-sorts for him, and I don't think I cared much for it either. I still loved the book though.

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