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The Threeway

No, no, no, Gentle Reader, not the Ellora’s Cave Threeway. I’m talking Love Triangles. Some readers love them. Lisa Kleypas gave a synposis of her contemporary due out in 2007 over at AAR. It features a Love Triangle between one woman and two alpha males.

And just as Liberty and Gage begin a wonderful, really scorching affair . . . Hardy comes back. He is now successful, ruthless and sexier than ever, and he wants Liberty.

So there is a love triangle, with Liberty torn between two alpha males who are business rivals and also romantic rivals

I suppose this is the ultimate female fantasy, but in a romance, to me, that always means one of the following:

  • a) an unhappy resolution for one member of the triangle
  • b) a demonization of one member of the triangle
  • c) a sappy secondary romance tacked on in the end to pacify individuals who don’t want to see a or b

None of these work very well for me and I tend to stay away from books featuring love triangles for that very reason. This is not to say that Kleypas’ contemporary won’t be great and totally knock my socks off. It’s that Love Triangles are probably my least favorite romance theme. I think I would rather read a secret baby book than a love triangle. But I do remember loving Brockway’s All Through the Night and Lord Strand definitely had a thing for Anne. She never returned those feelings so I am not sure whether that constitutes a triangle.

What’s your thoughts. If you like Love Triangles, what is the appeal? And what is an acceptable solution to the Love Triangle’s odd man out? What’s your favorite love triangle book and why did it work for you.

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. Tara Marie
    May 25, 2006 @ 08:44:42

    Jane you forgot d) a spin off/sequel of the rejected suitor. Didn’t Edith Layton do this in one of her series.

    Love triangles aren’t a favorite plot device for me, I don’t hate them like amnesia stories. I find semi-demonizing the poor bastard and then redeeming him in his own story works best.

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  2. Jorrie Spencer
    May 25, 2006 @ 10:07:36

    I have issues with love triangles, too. Inevidently, I either feel sorry for the third wheel or, worse, like him better than the guy who wins the girl. (That really bugs me.)

    Or, in the case of demonization, I am irritated by the author’s heavyhanded portrayal of the wrong guy.

    I did find one triangle that worked, though it’s not a strict romance. It was in Sarah Smith’s mystery The Vanished Child. The wrong guy was portrayed very convincingly, I thought. (Wonderful book, by the way.)

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  3. Bev (BB)
    May 25, 2006 @ 10:17:51

    Yeah, what Jorrie said. If the rejected suitor is actually the better hero it definitely leaves one with a funny feeling in the tummy. Oye. (And one romance where this happened actually had the poor other guy die . . . shades of a another recent discussion all over again. ;D)

    As to solutions? I guess a secondary romance or a spin-off to their own story is about the only way to go.

    Of course, there’s nothing like a really good Gothic set-up where the reader isn’t sure about either the hero or the other suitor until the end. And sometimes not even then.

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  4. Cece
    May 25, 2006 @ 10:44:06

    Not a book (though I’m sure I’ve read one somewhere) but a movie–Sweet Home Alabama…the guy that didn’t get the girl was such a nice guy that I felt really bummed for him

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  5. Keishon
    May 25, 2006 @ 11:01:17

    I love it because sometimes it’s obvious who the heroine should be with. Often times, the rejected suitor just didn’t suit. One may be more passionate while the other is more reserved. I love love triangles because to me, most times, it’s obvious who gets the girl.

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  6. Karen Scott
    May 25, 2006 @ 11:08:02

    I wonder if she’s thought of introducing a menage a trois?

    Seriously, I love triangles, as long as they’re written well, and the characters aren’t cookie-cutter -like, and the guy who doesn’t get the girl isn’t painted as the bad guy.

    Triangles are more effective for me, when there’s an element of unrequited love in the story. I love the whole obligatory jealousy scene, when the hero finally realises that just because he can’t see what a treasure he has in front of him doesn’t mean that other guys are just as blind. Yep, me loves my triangles.

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  7. jmc
    May 25, 2006 @ 12:11:48

    I have mixed feelings about love triangles, mostly because it takes very careful balance to create the relationship without demonizing or villifying someone. I can think of a couple that I liked (more or less), while many, many others have faded into the mists of memory.

    Lavyrle Spencer’s Twice Loved. The third wheel wasn’t villified exactly, but he was made kind of pathetic. It falls under a & b.

    Carla Kelly’s Libby’s London Merchant. The third wheel (I’d include his name, except it would be something of a spoiler) wasn’t evil or hateful, although he was thoughtless and did some hurtful stuff; a lot of readers preferred him to the eventual hero. This book falls under c, since Kelly wrote his book later.

    Oooh, I just remembered a third book — an old category from the late 80s or early 90s I think. [And if anyone can give me the title and author, she'll be amply rewarded :).] Heroine is engaged to a carpenter who she thinks is calm and average — he’ll be a good husband, which is what she wants after being married to a journalist who was never around and who died abroad on assignment. Out of the blue, journalist husband reappears — not dead after all! And she has to decide who/what she wants.

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  8. AAR Rachel
    May 25, 2006 @ 13:23:56

    I’m not at all fond of the Love Triangle for the reasons you stated. Don’t like Love Squares either or any other geometric configuration where someone is left SOL in the cold in the “HEA.” I particularly dislike it if the triangle goes on right to the bitter end like LaVyrle Spencer did in Hummingbird. I didn’t like David very much and it was clear to everyone but him that Abby and Jesse belonged together. But Abby’s leaving him right on the brink of the wedding to run away on a train with Jesse – that was badly done of her. That’s right, run off with your love, leaving him humilated and alone on what was meant to be the happiest day of his life. I enjoyed the book up to that point, but then – major points taken off.

    I have read and enjoyed love triangle stories, but they have to be sort of amazingly written to keep me reading. I like to know up front who’s going to get the girl so I know who to root for. And if it looks like the author is just going to drag it out to the end and keep me entangled in three sets of emotions, I have to skim ahead or toss the book. I don’t like big surprises as a reader and I’m not fond of “let’s find this poor schmuck also-ran a mate” sequels.

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  9. Solaine
    May 25, 2006 @ 13:26:09

    Emma Holly’s Menage, which is an erotic romance, bordering on erotica really worked for me because it showed the complications of a menage – it wasn’t a sweet story of how “fun” they are, but from the beginning expressed the torture than each person can go through, but also the growth that can occur when persons open themselves up to a different type of relationship.

    The solution for the odd man out, I like how Holly handled it (dont’ want to give spoilers), but she didn’t demonize or provide a superifical romance for the other person, instead it was pretty realistic and appealing because the two who stayed committed also still recognized their attraction for the third person.

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  10. Tara Marie
    May 25, 2006 @ 18:00:35

    Emma Holly must like love triangles, her Strange Attraction has an interesting twist to the old love triangle thing, and all parties end up part of the HEA.

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  11. sybil
    May 25, 2006 @ 21:56:21

    I so don’t like love triangles maybe it has to do with watching too many soap’s when I was young.

    In fact if this book was anyone other than Kleypas I wouldn’t care to read it. But I want to see what she does with it.

    It seems to me to have a retro feel to it and belong in 80s romanceland. But I could be way off.

    As for holly, I like her stuff, and the whole threesome stuff doesn’t count as a LT in my book *g*. Go figure.

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