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Guest Post: Polyamorous Romance Recs from Xan West

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This guest post was written by Xan West.

Xan West Author ImageXan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, an autistic queer fat Jewish genderqueer writer and community activist with multiple disabilities who spends a lot of time on Twitter. Xan’s erotica has been published widely, including in the Best S/M Erotica series, the Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “First Time Since” won honorable mention for the 2008 National Leather Association John Preston Short Fiction Award. Their collection of queer kink erotica, Show Yourself to Me, is out from Go Deeper Press. After over 15 years of writing and publishing queer kink erotica short stories, Xan has begun to also write longer form queer kink romance, and has recently published Their Troublesome Crush, a kinky polyamorous queer metamours to lovers romance novella with an autistic trans man MC.

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I just released a polyamorous romance that doesn’t fit the mold of most polyamorous romances out there, and it made me think about the ways polyamorous romance feels quite young as a subgenre or subset of romance. I have a sense of scarcity, and also a sense of these books finding their feet, still, and often centering characters who are newly exploring open relationships or polyamory. I’m so hungry for polyamorous representation in romance I grasp at crumbs and find it very notable when I read a polyamorous romance that feels like my life as a polyamorous queer person, or the lives of folks in my communities.

I’m on a Discord server with other authors of polyamorous romance and quite often I hear from authors that they are worried about telling stories about this kind of grouping, or that variation of polyamory, as they’ve been told that it “won’t sell”. At the same time, I talk to readers who are hungry to find exactly those things that supposedly “won’t sell”. I keep wanting more polyamorous romance, and a wider variety of it. A wider range of configurations beyond closed triads, stories where polyamory is less of a central conflict, characters who have years of polyamorous experience under their belt, stories set within the context of polyamorous communities. It’s so rare to even find polyamorous romances that are between queer women, that have ace spec and/or aro spec MCs, that have trans and/or non-binary MCs, that are low heat or no heat. There are so many new places we can go just at these basic levels.

This is a list of my personal faves. It’s not intended to be exhaustive or representative of polyamorous romance. In fact, I left out much of what is commonly called “ménage” romance or m/f/m romance, as I don’t care for it personally. It’s sometimes included in discussions of polyamorous romance, but for me, it feels like a rather different thing in how it works and the tropes it uses and how it feels to read. I am centering books that resonated for me, as a polyamorous queer reader. I am including links to content warnings and my own reviews, where they exist.

Note: not linking to content warnings does not mean there is no content in the book that might need them, simply that I didn’t record them when I read and it has been too long since I’ve read the book to accurately write warnings.

About Their Troublesome Crush

Their Troublesome Crush coverIn this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner’s birthday party together. Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.

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Click through to see Xan’s Recommendations!

Artist MC

The Art of Three CoverThe Art of Three by Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae (contemporary m/m/f romance novel)

I adored this book so much, especially for the fact that it had a long term couple that had been polyamorous for many years, and that long term experience was so resonant and added all these layers of complexity. This begins with a couple that mostly lives apart, an artist and a movie star, and evolves as the movie star begins dating a newer, younger actor, and goes from that V to a closed triad in this really organic way. A beautiful polyamorous romance, and such a lovely story; so full of heart. I cannot measure how much I appreciate getting to read a polyamorous romance that’s not erotic romance. I am incredibly glad that it exists in the world, and not only because it felt like a quiet cup of tea while cuddling on the couch with a loved one on a day I deeply needed that. Check out my review here.

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Just like Honey CoverJust Like Honey by Ajax Bell (historical m/m romance with open polyamory)

This story centers a gay artist living in Seattle in the 1990s, who is struggling to make art and figure out the direction for his art. At the same time as he is struggling with his art, his kinky open relationship with his boyfriend gets complicated. He is pushed in a bunch of different directions, and the story is mostly about him beginning to claim agency over his life and art and being brave and open about who he is and what he wants. I loved seeing the open relationship representation in this; it is rare to find in polyamorous romance. You can see my content warnings here.

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Erotic Romance

New Year New We CoverNew Year, New We by Katrina Jackson (contemporary polyamorous romantic suspense novella)

In this third installment to the series, we revisit Lane, Kierra and Monica from Pink Slip as they are doing their best spy work, this time posing as two queer couples with another agent, which becomes a foursome when the job is done! This is one of my most favorite polyamorous romances ever. It made my queer polyamorous heart sing! It was great to revisit characters I adored, and this book was so resonant with my own experience of polyamory, in a way I rarely find in polyamorous romance.

Goodreads | Amazon | Author Interview

 

Beyond Shame CoverBeyond series by Kit Rocha (post-apocalyptic polyamorous romance novels includes m/f open, m/m/f, and m/m/f/f)

This series is matter of factly queer and polyamorous, both things are normalized in the culture of these books. Many of the MCs form multiple sexual and romantic relationships and have sex with multiple partners throughout the series. These erotic romances often have a central couple or grouping, but still often include other people in their sex lives, and among their significant relationships. The series is best read in order, and is unabashedly kinky, sex-work positive (with many sex worker MCs) and directly challenges rape culture. You can read my review here.

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Foodie Romance

From Scratch CoverFrom Scratch by Katrina Jackson (contemporary m/m/f romance novel)

I found this polyamorous erotic romance utterly delightful! It has so many things I love, all together in one fluffy package: a lovely meet-cute, a really sweet friends to lovers arc, humor, heat, heart, baked goods, queerness, excellent friendships, polyamory, stellar fat representation. I laughed out loud more times than I could count, and fell really hard for all three of the main characters; the moments when they were sweet to each other were just so swoony. And did I mention that it’s a romance between the fire chief, the police chief, and the town baker? You can read my review here.

GoodreadsAmazon | Author Interview

 

Misfits CoverMisfits by Garrett Leigh (contemporary m/m/m romance novel)

This romance is full of angst and emotional intensity and a good portion of the conflict is around the polyamory. It goes from a couple to a V to a triad rather slowly, and has really lovely food details and stuff around running a restaurant that I especially enjoyed. I was riveted reading it. The characters grabbed me and would not let me go.

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Give Me the Angst

3 by Hannah Moskowitz (contemporary YA f/f/m romance novel)

3 CoverThe polyamorous relationship (sort of a V? sort of a triad?) in this YA romance is complicated, and the obstacles the characters face in the romance feel real, and deeply drawn. I really liked that these characters were grappling with other things besides being polyamorous. Taylor, the POV main character, is deeply compelling and characterized in a complex nuanced way. I fell for her really hard. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Taylor and Josey, and the storyline about Taylor and her BFF. I also really liked that there were polyamorous parents in this book; it felt important that these kids had support from other polyamorous people. As a polyamorous adult, I am very glad this book is out in the world. I could have really used a book like this when I was a teenager. You can check out my review here.

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Laid Bare by Lauren Dane (contemporary m/m/f romance novel)

Laid Bare CoverThis starts as a second chance romance, and evolves slowly to ménage, and then to a closed triad, and I appreciated the ways this bridged from ménage books and really took it someplace different. It does carry some of the centering the heroine aspect of ménage books, and has a lovely co-topping dynamic with D/s and some light pain and bondage. It has so much angst, as this entire series does, and is quite intense in that regard. This is the first in the series and has a follow-up book and the MCs grapple with more people learning about their triad throughout the course of the series. I like that later on, in a linked series, another triad forms in their chosen/blood family network.

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Going Away for New Year’s

Ménage à Troys by Holley Trent (contemporary m/m/f romance novella)

Menage a Troys CoverThis takes place at a sex hotel on New Year’s Eve weekend and is a love triangle turned triad erotic romance where a couple in a marriage of convenience try to save that marriage through a threesome but end up in a much more complicated situation.

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Ring in the True by Kris Ripper (contemporary m/f romance novella with trans leads in an open relationship)

Ring in the True CoverThis is one of many New Year’s erotic novellas set inside the Scientific Method series, that take a secondary character in the main series and tell a story of New Years at the beach house from their POV (including lots of kink and group sex). It cannot really stand alone. This book centers a trans m/trans f couple in an open relationship and is told from the POV of a trans man, Evan. Overall, I appreciated the trans representation in this story and found the sex and kink to be realistic and resonant. You can see content warnings here.

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Historical Romance

All or Nothing by Rose Lerner (historical m/f romance novella)

All or Nothing CoverI loved this, for so many reasons. The heroine’s grandmother was a converso, and she is trying to reclaim her Jewish identity, and struggling with that, and it was just wonderful to read a romance that held the complexities of that struggle. Also, I loved all the layers of stuff in this story about consent, not just the kinky bits, but so much of the story was about consent and that gave me so many feels. I liked the open polyamory in the story quite a lot. You can see content warnings here.

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Behind these Doors by Jude Lucens (historical closed polycule romance)

Behind these Doors CoverQueer historical romance with open polyamory sparked by a Caption the Lydecker game? Yes, please. It’s gorgeously written and offers such a nuanced story about queerness and class and misogyny.  I loved watching the romance between Aubrey and Lucien unfold, and the polyamory representation was deeply compelling and felt very real. I loved so much about this romance, it was one of my favorite historical romances I read in 2018. You can see content warnings here.

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Holiday Romance

Her Christmas Cookie by Katrina Jackson (contemporary m/m/f romance novella)

Her Christmas Cookie CoverThis book was exactly what I needed from a queer polyamorous holiday story, as it centers the way all three partners support each other through the complexities of going home for the holidays and shows a range of family experiences. I loved the way this triad feels both solid as a unit and also that we get to see the way they experience strain and challenge and grapple with insecurities too. It felt real to me, as a polyamorous reader. This book will be much more satisfying if you read it after reading From Scratch, which is a delight and definitely worth the read regardless. Check out my review: here.

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Maestro by M. Crane Hana (contemporary m/m/m erotic romance novella)

Maestro CoverI enjoyed this polyamorous Valentine’s Day romance quite a bit. It starts out more as an open relationship, with a long history of that, but ends up leaning towards a resolution as a triad, which felt rather sweet. I especially appreciated the way the workplace issue was handled in the story. The sex and kink in the story was lovely and hot, and I especially appreciated how intensely into the music the MC was.  Check out my review here.

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Kink Romance

The Submission Gift by Solace Ames (contemporary m/m/f romance novel)

The Submission Gift CoverI love this romance that begins when a married couple gets a windfall and decide to hire a pro dom. This evolves into a triad in a complex way, and I found both the kink and the polyamory aspects of the story quite lovely. Ames is one of my favorite romance authors, and this book is a gem when it comes to deep characterization and complex representation of the psychology of kink. It includes D/s, bondage, pain play, and humiliation play, and is sex-worker positive.

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Tactical Submission by Ada Maria Soto (contemporary m/m romance novel with closed polycule)

Tactical Submission CoverEasily in the top three of any BDSM romance I’ve ever read. The BDSM was gorgeous and deeply realistic and just a tremendous joy to read. The polyamory representation was one of the most realistic portrayals I have ever read. It felt like these folks could be people I knew, like it wasn’t about a fantasy of polyamory, and wasn’t solely about sex, but was really about loving multiple people. Check out my review here.

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Romantic Suspense/Mystery

Pink Slip by Katrina Jackson (contemporary m/f/f romantic suspense novel)

Pink Slip CoverThis is a polyamorous spy romance novella that resolves to m/f/f BDSM triad, and it’s wonderful. The MC is a personal assistant to a married couple who work for the CIA, and she falls for them both, basically right as soon as she meets them. This has a lot of humor, heat, and heart, with a dash of silly and a whole bunch of spy story yumminess, and it was a joy to read.

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One Life to Lose by Kris Ripper (contemporary m/m/m romantic suspense novel)

One Life to Lose CoverThis is the fourth in a series set in the same queer community where someone has been killing queer and trans folks. That arc comes to an end in this story, you find out who the killer is, but I think this book can stand alone. It’s a complex exploration of kink and polyamory and I fell very hard for the MC, who is new to both, and swept off his feet by this lovely couple.

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Speculative Romance

Snare by Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae (paranormal m/m/m romance novel)

Snare CoverI loved this gorgeously written romance about a middle-aged chubby ordinary looking vampire and the two beautiful younger men who fall for each other and adore him. This has so much in it; a lovely meet-cute, a snowed-in start and then a longer forced proximity due to vampire politics and an accidental bite, and polyamory representation that made me swoon. This felt like the kind of polyamory that I experience personally, and I particularly loved seeing them talk about their relationships and negotiate. I rarely find polyamory representation where I feel like, oh, this resonatesI could be in community with these folks. You can read my review here.

Goodreads | Amazon

Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi (space opera romance novel with an f/f/f polyamorous V)

Ascension CoverThe MC in this space opera has a fictional chronic pain condition that resembles fibromyalgia (which makes it ownvoices). So much about the representation of chronic pain felt so real here, and resonated so deeply. There is also a lovely f/f/f polyamorous romance storyline that resolves to a V, and also includes a really sweet romance between the MC and the ship. I adored the found family aspect of this story.

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On My TBR:

  • Bound With Honor by Megan Mulry (historical m/m/f/f)
  • Heart and Hand by Rebel Carter (historical m/f/m)
  • She Whom I Love by Tess Bowery (historical f/f/m)
  • Triad Blood series by ‘Nathan Burgoine (paranormal m/m/m)
  • The Afotama Legacy series by Holley Trent (paranormal m/m/f)
  • A Rational Arrangement by L. Rowyn (speculative m/m/f)
  • Ariana by Ash Dylan (fantasy m/m/f)
  • For Hire: Operator by Kevin A Patterson and Alana Phelan (superhero open polyamory)
  • Seduction Games by Allyson Lindt (contemp m/m/f)
  • Spice and Smoke by Suleikha Snyder (contemp open relationship)
  • His Two Leading Men by Aidan Wayne (contemp m/m/m)
  • Three Part Harmony by Holley Trent (contemp m/m/f)
  • Izzy and the Right Answer by R Cooper (contemp m/m/m)
  • Broken in Soft Places by Fiona Zedde (contemp f/f/m)
  • The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights by Redfern Jon Barrett (contemp m/m/f)
  • The Strongest Shape by Tessa Cárdenas (contemp m/m/m)
  • Three-Way Split by Elia Winters (contemp m/m/f)
  • Beyond the Edge by Elizabeth Lister (contemp kink m/m/m)
  • The Dom with a Safeword by Sorcha Black, Leia Shaw and Cari Silverwood (contemp kink f/f/m)
  • Happiness in Numbers ed by Nicole Field (polyamory anthology)
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