A man with a harem of women? Not the most popular concept in 2022. We have plenty of other more modern, less historically complicated terms to describe a man who’s sleeping with or dating multiple women, none of which imply they all live together in a separate part of the house. “Polyamorous” might be one. “An imbalanced orgy” could be another. But when it comes to the idea of a woman in the same position, sleeping with multiple men who do actually live with her? That’s a whole different story. As several contemporary romance novels show, people seem to love the concept of a “reverse harem.”
A reverse harem is exactly what it sounds like — a group of cohabitating concubines, except they’re all men devoted to one woman. According to the GoodReads page for the genre, reverse harems typically involve three or more men, and are a trope commonly found in romance novels. There are hundreds of books tagged “reverse harem” on GoodReads, many of which are part of a broader series. There’s Lost Daughter of a Serial Killer, Billionaire Brother’s Nanny and Three Mages and a Margarita, all of which feature one woman with a harem of three dedicated men.
Many of these books are extremely popular — Three Mages and a Margarita has over 17,000 reviews on GoodReads, though several of the comments assert that there are merely “reverse harem vibes” to this book, rather than literal plot points surrounding one. On TikTok, however, there are suggestions for much spicier takes on the theme. A recent video from @oceans.of.books, which was devoted specifically to the genre, listed off the creator’s favorite reverse harem books. “Some scenes are still knockin’ about in my brain,” she explains, referencing one book’s mafia-style reverse harem romance. Another from @author.j.r.horn, tagged #reverseharem, describes a man “sliding into a woman” before she realizes he’s not actually human. The hashtag has over 277 million views.
Based on the TikToks, there’s plenty of freaky, animalistic, extraterrestrial multi-person sex to be found among reverse harem books, depending on what your preference is. That said, as some of the GoodReads listings highlight, the term can also refer to a story about a woman with multiple love interests, where things might get a little steamy, but doesn’t venture into full-on smut. Thankfully, there are plenty of reverse harem reading lists and reviews out there so you can try before you buy, as well as a whole universe of reverse harem writing instructions in case you want to fabricate your own.
Regardless, as both TikTok and GoodReads highlight, there’s a ton of interest in this sort of thing, particularly among female readers. But again, the reverse harem is really just a blanket term for any situation involving a group of men at a woman’s beck and call. Is it any surprise we’d find this so appealing?