As announced on Twitter, Love in a time of Feminism is kicking of 2018 with the theme… Reverse Harem!
What is Reverse Harem?
You probably know what a harem is, but just in case, it’s a term to denote either the area of a man’s home designated for women (wives, concubines, and female servants), as well as the group of women themselves. With regards to fiction, you’ll most likely read it relating to the group of women, all centred around one man. By logic, a reverse harem is the opposite: a group of men, centred around on woman.
It might be worth noting that reverse harem does not necessarily have to involve romantic relationships and can be used to simply describe a main cast consisting of one girl and multiple guys, but given this blog is dedicated to romance, we’ll stick to just the romantic relationships.
Reverse harem is more commonly used in reference to anime and manga series, such as Ouran High School Host Club. Which, by the way, was the first manga I got properly hooked on when I lived in Japan, and you can love it, too. That being said, it’s not a new thing in the world of romance novels.
Romance novels are already fantasies in words, but unless you’re able to organise a polyamorous relationship involving yourself and several men willing to share you, reverse harem ventures almost as far into fantasyland as actual fantasy novels. As opposed to a love triangle (or square, or pentagon, etc.), reverse harem novels don’t require a choice on the part of the heroine. So if she wants the bad boy, the nice guy, and the shy artist, she can. Lucky girl, eh?
Reverse Harem in the real world
Well, calling it “reverse harem” isn’t quite right, but the idea is the same. The proper term is polyandry, which is the practice of one woman marrying multiple men. This practice has been documented in countries such as Tibet, Nepal, India, and even others in Polynesia and Africa. In some cultures, women will marry brothers, often to keep land in the family. Major organised religions are almost all uniformly against polyandry, so the practice is seemingly either historical or kept to smaller groups of people less under the sway of said religions.
It’s also worth noting that polyandry is common in the animal kingdom. Just think of queen bees!
Authors who write Reverse Harem romance
Goodreads has, as ever, proved a very valuable resource, with lists and shelves dedicated to the sub-genre. Here are some of the most popular authors who come up quite a bit, and I’ll be trying to read something from each of them this month.
- C.L. Stone, author of The Ghost Bird YA series and The Scarab Beetle NA series
- Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry (very adult) paranormal series (which I stumbled across as a hormonal teenager, need I say more?)
- Jane Washington, author of the Seraph Black series and co-author of the Curse of the Gods series with Jaymin Eve
- B.L. Brunnemer, author of The Veil Diaries series
- Lane Whitt, author of the My Pack series
- Ripley Proserpina, author of a few series, including The Searchers and Midnight’s Crown
- Tate James, author of the Kit Davenport series
Any I’ve missed? Let me know your recommendations in the comments!
So follow along in January as I read Reverse Harem books, and if you’re up for it, join in! Let me know on Twitter or in the comments if you want to write a guest review or guest post. If you’re an author, why not share your reasons for writing Reverse Harem?