Lorelei Isn’t Sorry. Alex Isn’t Sorry. I’m Not Sorry.

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.

19 thoughts on “Lorelei Isn’t Sorry. Alex Isn’t Sorry. I’m Not Sorry.

  1. Mark Sarver

    I love your books and can’t wait for the next book in this series. I am a very straight happily married man who reads for entertainment. I love how you have portrayed each character and think you have remained true to their personalities. People who can’t stand Alex ‘s take on fairness in this relationship should read something less complex.

    Reply
  2. Ben Sevier

    Like the previous poster, I love your books, all of them. The ScFi ones are well done, interesting and fun, and the fantasy ones are either really hot and a turn on, or just fun! I don’t see any problems with the Good Intentions series so far, other than not being enough of them or soon enough! I enjoy your take on a fantasy polyamory, and look forward to where it all goes. Don’t let the HaremLit guys get to you – they tend to like the shallow books, kinda sophomoric. I do enjoy well written explicit scenes as long as they serve the plot line and aren’t there “just because”. I’m looking to finding out what becomes of the 3 primary characters as well as their friends and lovers.

    Continue with the good work!!

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  3. TL

    We are big fans! I love the dynamic between the 3 of them. It takes a degree of emotional maturity to understand, even if polyamory isn’t your thing. I agree with Mark. It doesn’t have to be your thing to understand. If you can’t get it read something more “fluffy”.

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  4. Ryan Harvey

    As someone who loves your books because they represent health polyamory. I am Poly and have been for many years, it is hard to find good portrayals of actual good open polyamory. Polyamory is not all about sex, it it about relationship, unlimited love, boundaries, good communication, respect, and honesty. You have hit everyone of those in your books. Keep it up, I am waiting for that next book in the series!

    Reply
  5. Tom Anderson

    I love the characters. I think you’re going in the right direction. Thanks for a series I’m looking forward to reading more.

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  6. Sean Livingston

    Screw the “ultimate male fantasy.” Screw the “harem genre.”

    Your story is special because it’s ‘not’ like most of what’s out there. Because it ‘does’ portray an open, polyamorous relationship. And not just any open, polyamorous relationship, but one between three distinct, ‘real’ people, all of whom are clearly in love and intent on living happily and enjoying the rest of ‘eternity.’ Because of their unique circumstances (i.e. succubus curse) and their characterizations, their behavior comes across as perfectly healthy.

    Speaking as a reader, I agree with everything you’ve said. At no point in your telling of any of the books did I question anyone’s loyalty to their relationship (or the validity of their concern about said relationship). As you said, it wasn’t normal for Alex to be a fully-formed polyamorist right out of the gate. His discomfort felt genuine and absolutely necessary to maintain his believability. And in book 2, his bringing up whether Lorelei wanted other men felt equally genuine, and her reply was spot-on. She’s no prude, but neither is she flippant in her answer. She treats his question and its implications seriously. She is clearly committed to a relationship with Alex, one in which they can both be free to enjoy opportunities without weakening their commitment to each other.

    Lorelei’s actions in Natural Consequences felt perfectly right for her, as did her follow-up conversations with Alex. She’s a millennia-old succubus. You portray her as a millennia-old succubus—one who is deeply, truly in love with Alex and Rachel. Lorelei’s perspective and values fit her like a glove.

    As Lorelei said about Alex in Natural Consequences, “I mean to show him pleasure as I define it… not as it is defined by the prudish sensibilities of this era.”

    Of course Lorelei’s actions weren’t without risk. (Nor should they have been. We pay attention to a story ‘because’ there’s risk.) Risk that Alex might misunderstand, that he might feel betrayed, that his feelings might be hurt. Not because Lorelei genuinely betrayed him, but because humans are flawed, emotional beings. Rationality isn’t a given in a relationship, so it can’t be taken for granted. That’s why it’s still such a relief when a character ‘is’ rational.

    I’m rather impressed at how right you’ve gotten Lorelei’s attitude, and how well thought-out these relationships are. It’s been great to see them evolve, and I hope they’ll continue to do so.

    And thank God you thought Lorelei out the way you did. You built a story around a succubus without making her into a sex toy for the main male character. I hope you appreciate the magnitude of that achievement. Even Lydia didn’t feel like a sex toy. She felt cruel, manipulative, and dangerous as hell. (Slight pun intended.)

    Go where your instincts take you. They’ve been spot-on so far.

    Reply
  7. Nimbus GMUT

    I have a feeling that my comment was the one that broke the proverbial camel’s back. This blogpost is a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.

    Sorry for insulting you, I should have seen the frost on the windowsill halfway through book one now that I think about it. Nah, ya know I should have seen the writing on the wall in the description of your book lmao.

    Reply
  8. Steve Carlson

    I was going to get all passionate and write a lengthy comment, but then I noticed that Sean Livingston pretty much covered it all. So, what he said.

    Reply
  9. Paul Schmidt

    I really like your books and never saw the situation with Lorelei and other men as anything other than a personal decision on both her and Alex’s part. I felt that this was a natural progression in their relationship, she is a succubus, and it would have been against her nature and limiting if she was not free to make her choices. I hope to read more of your books soon! Can you give us any updates on book schedules this year?

    Reply
  10. H. Roberts

    I love your books, and I must admit that I did have an issue with that particular plot line. Having said that, I absolutely respect the fact that Good Intentions is your story, set in your universe, and that you must do justice to your characters. I am so glad that you aren’t letting what others say force you to change your stories to suit their views.

    The job of an author is not to pander, it is to tell a great story, and you have done that, sir. There will always be those who disagree, and many will do so in an ugly way. Please take comfort from the fact that even those who may not like certain aspects of the story are still blown away by the whole, vibrant, sexy, interesting world that you created.

    Thank you for all your great work, and I’m looking forward to your next book.

    Reply
  11. Oz Nielsen

    Elliot, I am truly enjoying Alex Lorelei and Rachel and their adventures. I am writing some epic fantasy myself and have straddled the line on intimacy and how deep I want to get with it. I seek a wide audience and feel that if I get to steamy I may lose mid teens.
    What I really wanted to know was when your next adventure with Alex Lorelei and Rachel will be available or have you concluded their story. It seemed slightly open for another installment.

    Thanks
    Oz “Mark” Nielsen

    Reply
  12. Ethan

    So I’ve never had a problem with their relationship and the way its developing, it actually seemed very believable to me with the characters. Now after saying that I’ve just been having a few thoughts since reading this post; with Alex getting the memories of his past lives shouldn’t their be bouts of jealousy and anger at the thought of Lorelei or Racheal with other men? I’m asking because it seems a few of the memories of Alex’s past lives his lover left him either for another man or because of another man so I would expect even with Alex being as good of a person as he is to show more resistance to the idea. Again this is more of a something I’ve been wondering about then trying to be negative.

    Reply
    1. Elliott Kay Post author

      It’s not unreasonable. Anyone can get jealous. Slapping the polyamory label on a relationship doesn’t change that; in fact, navigating that can be a frequent preoccupation. It’s part of why communication is so important (as it is in any relationship). I think he probably does feel some measure of jealousy now and then, but he also confronts it and thinks past it. Similarly, Lorelei cares enough to take his feelings seriously. That’s what I have reached for in the scenes dealing with this stuff.

      Reply
  13. B.O. Williams

    I personally don’t see anything wrong with your plot lines or situations in the Good Intentions series, but then again, I read your stories for the stories themselves. What you did in Natural Consequences, the way I see it was merely a complication (conflict) to add spice to an already spicy tale. Besides, the way you handled the aftermath with Bridger on the floor was hilarious.

    I suppose you can look at it two ways:
    1. Be thankful that your readers care enough about your characters and take it as a sign of a decent following.
    2. Remind folks that it (like so many other works of fiction) is just that. Fiction! The characters are not real people,
    no matter how real you make them. And when it boils right down to it, you are the author; what you say, goes. The
    rest of us are just along for the ride. Keep ’em coming, Elliot. They are excellent stories.

    Reply
  14. Elric

    You know it’s quite interesting I remember issuing a complaint about Lorelei and Alex as well in your old blog, but my complaint wasn’t polyamory or the fact that the “male genre” proved to be false. I remember saying that there is a certain hypocrisy in their relationship in regards to influence, meaning it is constantly reiterated in the narrative that Lorelei doesn’t want to change who Alex is, and Alex likewise doesn’t want to change who Lorelei is, but a relationship polyamorous or monogamous, demands compromise and change from individuals, and the more committed the individuals are to each other, the more change it demands from them. Yet it is Lorelei who demands change from Alex, even as she denies it, and I felt Alex being short changed, but acknowledged that rarely is power shared 50/50 in a relationship and it often bounces back and forth. In the following novel this imbalance was somewhat addressed and I was very pleasantly surprised, I expected it to get worse. I’ve read all your novels and one commonality the main male protagonists share is that they are too accommodating to the women they’re with, meaning they think about their partner first and foremost before they think of themselves, not to say it’s wrong, but I find it jarring when the narrative encourages me to believe it is a relationship on equal footing, the fact that it’s voluntary on the man’s part doesn’t change the fact that the woman enjoys more power in the relationship. Nothing is wrong with that, but I’d rather prefer the reader be allowed to draw conclusions, instead of being forced into one. With all that said, I don’t find this to be a glaring fault, I enjoy your novels, and I felt then as I do now that I had something to say, and I detest the feeling of staying with words in my mouth. Blessings to you and yours.

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  15. Michael

    I always felt like that moment you wrote in the book was something that really tested who your readers are. They should really take a look and see if their open minded about things and not just the idea of things. I’ve seen a few of my friend who wish for the kind of relationship that exists in these books but in reality could not handle what it really means.

    What I mean is trust. So far at the core of this story I keep seeing two things that are never broken between these three. Trust and Passion for each other.

    Reply

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