NOTE: Spoilers for Natural Consequences, book two of Good Intentions
Yesterday, I decided maybe I should finally, directly address feedback from some readers regarding Lorelei’s actions in Natural Consequences. After five years, it’s still a thing. Many who bring it up make a point of using the sort of insults and garbage labels that say much more about the user than the target. Others avoid that stuff, but they’re still surprised or put off.
Today, I started writing that piece. The longer I wrote, the less necessary it felt. I scrapped that and started over.
Alex mustered his courage. He had to address this, for both their sakes. “Lorelei, do you want other men?”
Her answer was calm, quiet and straightforward: “Yes.”
He felt it hit inside. Thankfully, she continued.
“You asked a direct question, and you deserve a direct answer. Alex, no one will ever replace you. You have not failed or fallen short in any way. I could never enjoy anything that brought you harm. I will not tire of you. Quite the contrary—you and I will never have enough of one another, regardless of the sorcery and the curses that bind us.”
This is Chapter One of Natural Consequences. Alex brings it up. Not Lorelei. Alex. She respects him enough to answer directly and honestly and talk the issue out. His feelings are right there on the page. He says he’s okay with it. I’m not here to tell readers how to interpret my books, but I don’t feel like I was presenting any riddles there.
When Lorelei hooks up with another guy, she tells Alex immediately and honestly. He isn’t hurt or dismayed. At no point are they less in love, less attracted to one another, or less trusting. At no point do either of them or Rachel become secondary to anyone else.
Alex, Lorelei, and Rachel share an open, polyamorous relationship. They each have different needs and wants and boundaries. They handle that through a lot of open, honest communication and trust.
In book one, Alex expresses discomfort with the idea of Lorelei hooking up with other guys. He’s nearly twenty years old and it’s his first relationship. I did not think it was reasonable for him to be a fully-formed polyamorist right out of the gate, but I also never intended to stay there. Equality is a basic requirement for all three partners. There’s also a whole lot about their power dynamics and power exchange, and it’s all based on open communication and consent, not some bullshit guiding philosophy where guys should take ownership of women. Alex explicitly rejects that notion over and over. It’s the difference between a consensual kink and abuse.
I don’t particularly plan to focus much on Lorelei hooking up outside their relationship. It’s not something I see as a big plot aspect. I also don’t plan to ignore it or pretend it doesn’t happen, let alone write it out of the storyline. There will absolutely be scenes dealing with it to varying degrees. I hope readers can enjoy them without feeling like she’s betraying Alex or Rachel, because they sure don’t feel that way.
I’ve seen complaints that I ruined the “ultimate male fantasy.” I never set out to write that fantasy. I have seen that I failed the “harem genre.” I gotta say I knew there were harem tropes in anime and elsewhere but I did not know this was a whole genre when I wrote the first couple books and I sure wasn’t trying to live up to any such mold. Nor am I writing this to advocate for polyamory. It works for some, not others, and that’s fine.
Alex, Lorelei, and Rachel share an open, polyamorous relationship. If that is something a reader doesn’t want, then this is not the series for them, and I am fine with that.