I discovered reverse harem as a reader back in 2017. I’d been hearing the phrase pop up in writing conversations for a few months, but I wasn’t that interested until a writer friend raved about the Rock Hard Beautifulseries by CM Stunich. A rockstar romance where the girl ends up with the whole band? It sounded like my kind of thing.
I devoured the three books in that series in a weekend and went hunting for more. What I discovered was not a one-off wonder but a whole world of unique settings, strong females characters and harems of guys who worship them.
I joined groups on Facebook dedicated to discussing all things reverse harem, and discovered that the genre actually started in anime, manga, and otome games. In reverse harem anime, the girl has a group of guys who exist around her (and may or may not be in love with her). In the end, she has to choose one of them.
Some of the best reverse harem anime are Uta no Prince-sama!, Fruits Basket, and Ouran High School Host Club. Find some more recommendations on Reel Rundown.
Some women watching or reading reverse harem anime and manga got sick of this plot device of the girl having to choose between all the guys. Too often you’d end up hating the guy she actually did choose, or wishing it was a different kind of story all-together. Guys in stories got to have harems of women who all share, so why couldn't it work in reverse?
Some of those readers started writing their own stories where the female main character didn’t have to choose. This started reverse harem as a book genre, as well as the associated hashtag #whychoose.
Reverse harem readers are greedy – we want it all. All the guys, all the feels, all the sex, all the adventure and danger and power and monsters, all the heartbreaks and heartthrobs. We love reverse harem in all its different facets – some of the books are aimed at a young adult audience, with teenage protagonists who might not even kiss until book six (CL Stone, B L Brunnemer). Others are hyper-steamy with the sexual tension and bedroom acrobatics turned up to 11 (CM Stunich, Tate James). Many reverse harem books feature some element of the paranormal, but there are tons of hot contemporary titles as well.
I devoured these books for months while I finished off the Wolves of Crookshollow series. When the flash of an idea for a reverse harem story hit me, I couldn’t resist dropping other projects to work on it. The Castle of Earth and Embers was born, combining my love of British history and Celtic mythology with my love of lots of really hot guys and sassy female characters.
Reverse harem books are becoming more and more popular. I love this in part because it helps to normalise polyamory and different types of relationships. Many reverse harem books involve elements of bisexuality and homosexuality, and often tackle difficult issues as characters struggle to come to terms with being who they are. I love the diversity in the books and how they showcase something many of us might consider kinky or creepy as truly beautiful and life-affirming.
That’s reverse harem in a nutshell, and that’s why I’m writing it right now. It’s awesome and I love it, and I bet you will too.