If you’re an experienced reader of erotic fiction, you probably don’t need us to explain what the reverse harem romance genre. But for the uninitiated, reverse harem romances take common tropes of traditional stories and turn them upside down.
In classic folktales and legends of lore a harem is a group of attractive women who desire one male hero, usually the person at the center of the story. In some cases, the women are connected to the man via sexual relationships or polygamous marriage.
These days, harems aren’t really in step with our more progressive view of relationships and gender roles. Some writers of romance stories and erotic fiction have subverted the outmoded harem cliché by turning it around; so-called “reverse harem” romances feature a group of appealing men pining for one woman.
Given that this scenario is a refreshing change for female romance readers seeking strong female protagonists with power and agency in their relationships, this genre has taken off in recent years. There’s been a particular explosion of reverse-harem representation in manga and Japanese fiction. In fact, the genre’s current popularity in romance novels is probably owed to its prevalence in Japanese entertainment. But the trope can be found in many genres, including sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and more.
The Basics of Reverse Harem Romances
Reverse harem romances typically feature multiple male love interests for the heroine, but “multiple” can be as few as two. So if you’re a fan of the good old-fashioned love triangle, this genre could very well have something for you. Female harem members can also pop up in these stories, vying for the heroine’s attention in one way or another. This female harem member may simply be a friend without any romantic or sexual connection to the main character — it’s an unfortunate fact of life that romantic relationships can get in the way of platonic ones! In any case, variety in the gender of the harem adds more diversity and freshness into the mix.
In some cases, you’ll see members of the harem have relationships with one another, although the bulk of their attention will be paid to the female protagonist.
Some Common Themes of Harem Romances
When you think of multiple men competing for one woman, what comes to mind first? That’s right: jealousy. Lots and lots and lots of jealousy. It is not common to express jealousy in Japanese culture, so it’s a theme that comes out generously in reverse harem fantasy stories. Exploration of sexuality is naturally another common theme of the genre. This may or may not include homosexual or transgender elements, but either way, it’s common for the conflict inherent in the harem to cause a sexual awakening in the heroine. It also probably won’t surprise you to know adultery is a common feature of reverse harem romances. Because who says husbands aren’t allowed into the harem, too?
Steaminess Level of Reverse Harem Romances
Every book, every author ranks differently on the heat scale. For this reason it’s hard to evaluate the erotic content of a whole swath of books. But make no mistake: reverse harem romances fall squarely within the erotic genre. Erotic writers tend to have a pretty good idea of what their readers are looking for, so you can find plenty of hot-and-heavy scenes no matter which reverse harem romance you choose to crack open.
Generally speaking, reverse harem romances do maintain an element of class and tastefulness in their portrayal of sexual material, so it is unlikely that your experience with books in the genre will be so graphic or shocking as to be unpleasant or traumatizing. If you’re looking for something that’s extremely hardcore and in-your-face, you may want to go elsewhere. But reverse harem romances have developed quite a good following among women (and some men) in search of erotic content. And that reputation hasn’t developed out of thin air!
Reverse Harem Romances Worth Reading
Has the information above compelled you enough to check out this genre for yourself? If so, read on to learn more about some of the most well-received books reverse harem romances out there. Note that most of the popular reverse harem books are part of a series. So if you are one to get hooked, prepare to do a lot of reading.
Consort of Secrets by Eva Chase
The first book in the Witch’s Consort series, Consort of Secrets by Eva Chase follows witch Rose Hallowell who is forced by her stepmother to marry a man who is as special as she is. Unfortunately, Hallowell craves a different sort of love–that from the men of her childhood. If you like the paranormal and tantalizingly complicated family history unraveling with each turn of the page, you are sure to enjoy this engaging book (and the series as a whole).
Charcoal Tears by Jane Washington
Enjoy the engrossing Seraph Black series with the first installment, Charcoal Tears. The series follows Seraph, a girl whose main goal is to watch over her kid brother. She finds herself distracted by two boys who find her simply irresistible–and who are desperate to know everything there is to know about her.
Groupie by C.M. Stunich
What better exemplifies the exploits of the music world than a reverse harem romance about one girl and an entire rock band? Groupie is the first book in the series Rock Hard Beautiful, which follows a broke and homeless Lilith Goode. Her life turns around when she crosses paths with five passionate rock stars.
Small Town Seven by Kelli Callahan
Small Town Seven is a steamy standalone novella with a HEA and no cheating! The hot man are a little over-the-top with a touch of caveman, and you’ll get some angst along the way, but the good parts will make you glad you’re reading the book all by yourself!
If you’re looking for erotic reading that shakes up the norms and clichés of the genre, reverse harem romances are a refreshing and entertaining way to go. With roots in Japan, its popularity has allowed it to explode into all subgenres of erotic fiction.
Enjoy your reading (preferably in a private place)!