Addictive tropes in books—Paranormal Reverse Harem

Published 01 Apr 2024
by Anca Antoci

What is the reverse harem trope and why is it popular in books?

Reverse harem is a trope commonly found in romance novels, especially subgenres like paranormal romance, fantasy romance, and young adult fiction. Since fantasy and paranormal are my jam, that's what I'm going to talk about today.

Reverse harem novels have skyrocketed in popularity, and for good reason. These captivating tales offer readers an escape into worlds where strong, independent female protagonists reign supreme, surrounded by a diverse array of romantic interests. 

I remember the first paranormal reverse harem book I ever read was “Tempted” (Sea Dragons of Amber Bay #1) by Zoe Ashwood. Like all good books, I discovered it through a bookish friend, Anthea. I must have read a review on her blog, or she raved on Twitter about the book. It’s been a long time and I don’t remember the specifics. However, I do remember my skepticism that I was going to like it. Yet, Anthea, whose tastes are similar to mine, praised it. So, I decided to give it a chance, thinking that if it gets too icky for me, I can always stop reading. I did not expect to enjoy it. I was so damn wrong! I inhaled the book and then the next and the next. By the way, Zoe Ashwood became one of my favorite authors and I ended up on her ARC team, so now I get the privilege of reading her stories before they are published.

So why did I think it was going to be icky? I think I expected it to be written porn. While sex gets pretty graphic and in abundance, it’s not porn for two reasons. First, there’s an actual plot, which is as good as any other fantasy or paranormal novel. It’s not just a pretext for smut. And then there’s build-up for all the relationships. That’s right, it’s not just about the smut. It’s about everything that leads up to it. That is so satisfying to read.

So what exactly makes reverse harem books so irresistible?

Empowerment and Escapism:

At the heart of reverse harem novels lies a sense of empowerment for readers. In cultures where female free-spirits are vilified, the fantasy of embracing such freedom without repercussions becomes all the more enticing. These stories give you a safe space to explore your desires and fantasies without judgment, letting you escape reality.

Dynamic Male Characters:

One of the key draws of reverse harem novels is the plethora of male characters, each with their own distinct personalities and traits. From the nerdy intellectual to the brooding alpha, you are treated to a smorgasbord of male archetypes, adding layers of complexity and intrigue to the narrative. It’s like having all your favorite male character tropes rolled into one captivating story.

Exploration of Relationships:

In a reverse harem, you can have your cake and eat it too—explore multiple romantic relationships all at once. You experience a whirlwind of emotions as you witness the protagonist’s relationships with each of her suitors grow and change. With each “first kiss” moment and intimate revelation, you discover more about the intricacies of love and desire.

Breaking the Mold of True Love:

Reverse harem novels challenge the notion of finding one perfect soulmate by presenting a tantalizing alternative: What if you didn’t have to choose? By the way, another name for this popular subgenre is “why choose.” In these stories, the heroine is free to explore her connections with multiple partners, each fulfilling a unique role in her life. It’s a refreshing departure from traditional romance narratives, offering a glimpse into a world where love knows no bounds.

Entertaining Group Dynamics:

Beyond the romantic entanglements, reverse harem novels also shine a spotlight on the dynamic interactions between the characters. You get to see it all in these stories—from playful banter to heated confrontations. It’s like being in the front row. It’s a chaotic yet exhilarating ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat, craving more with each turn of the page.


Reverse harem novels stand as a testament to the power of fantasy and the allure of forbidden love. With their empowering themes, dynamic characters, and tantalizing narratives, these stories offer readers a passport to worlds where anything is possible. So, if you’re looking for a captivating escape into the realms of romance and fantasy, look no further than the mesmerizing world of reverse harem novels.

I am ending this post with several book recommendations that I really loved. I’m sure that if you develop a taste for these stories, you’ll find more on your own. You’re not going to like all of them. I came across a couple that were off-putting and I DNF after a couple of chapters. It may surprise you, but it wasn’t because of the sex. I didn’t get that far. In one case, it was because the writing annoyed me—if the prose is peppered with cuss words because that’s how the cool kids speak, I’m done. Probably because I’m too old and uncool. I don’t mind cuss words when used emphatically, but use them as filler words and you lost me. In another book, the female MC was incredibly frustrating and her inner monologue was cringy. I’m not going to drop names because these are popular books and I’m not bashing other authors’ work on principle. I was not in their target audience. That’s it! So there’s everything for every reader. You just need to find what works for you.

5 Paranormal Reverse Harem book recommendations

Obviously, I'll start with the book that brought me over to the dark side, Tempted (Sea Dragons of Amber Bay #1). I recommend to get the whole trilogy at one, because Tempted ends with a cliffhanger and you'll want the next installment fast. All my recommendations are book series, but I only present the first one. So, although five is a small number, considering they're series, you'll get plenty to read. Enjoy!


Title: Tempted
Author: Zoe Ashwood
Released: 19.08.2020
Buy from Amazon
4.05 (read)
Our review:
4.00 (read)

Who knew one small mistake—that just happened to go viral—would result in being exiled from my family and shunned by my coven?

Not me. Yet here I am, in nowhere, Alaska, armed only with a laptop and my Pomeranian.

But even witch magic can’t prepare a girl for the freezing temperatures, murderous moose, or the abundance of hot men.

Jack, Ty, and Aiden walked straight out of the freezing ocean like some mythical gods, water sluicing from their broad shoulders. What starts as burning attraction quickly turns into searing kisses and hot nights between the sheets.

But something isn’t right in this tiny Alaskan village. There aren’t any tourists. There’s no internet, and the locals shoo their children away when I walk past in the streets.

There are secrets here I long to uncover. But not if that means the risk of exposing my own.

*Tempted is a ‘why choose’ paranormal romance perfect for readers who enjoy sassy heroines, sexy sea dragon shifter heroes, and enough steamy scenes to heat up even a cold Alaskan night. This is the first book of an ongoing trilogy.

Cursed in Love

Title: Cursed in Love
Author: Zoe Ashwood
Released: 23.06.2021
Buy from Amazon
4.41 (read)
Our review: No review yet

In a magical race around the world, there can only be one winner.

My powers weren’t enough to save my mother from an excruciating death. But I won’t stand by and watch anybody else I love suffer.

The spells I need to protect us all are locked away, sealed by a magic I can’t break. The only key is conning my way into the magical elite and winning their deadly competition.

I can’t do it alone.

Levi has my back. He’s a strong witch, my best friend, and fiercest protector.

Raphael might be my ex, but his vampire powers give us an edge.

And then there’s Isak. Dragon shifter, with his own secrets and reasons to win.

But in a competition full of witches whose powers outweigh my own, dangers arise from every corner of the globe.

Until one thing becomes clear.

We aren’t just playing to win.

We’re playing to live.

Cursed in Love is the first book in a "why choose" paranormal romance trilogy.

Power of Five

Title: Power of Five
Author: Alex Lidell
Released: 29.04.2018
Buy from Amazon
4.01 (read)
Our review: No review yet

Four elite fae warriors. One mortal female. A magical bond they can’t allow—or resist.

Orphaned and sold to a harsh master, Lera’s life is about mucking stalls, avoiding her master’s advances, and steering clear of the mystical forest separating the mortal and fae worlds. Only fools venture into the immortal realms, and only dark rumors come out... Until four powerful fae warriors appear at Lera’s barn.

River, Coal, Tye, and Shade have waited a decade for their new fifth to be chosen, the wounds from their quint brother’s loss still raw. But the magic has played a cruel trick, bonding the four immortal warriors to... a female. A mortal female.

Distractingly beautiful and dangerously frail, Lera can only be one thing—a mistake. Yet as the males bring Lera back to the fae lands to sever the bond, they discover that she holds more power over their souls than is safe for anyone... especially for Lera herself.

Ice Planet Barbarians

Title: Ice Planet Barbarians
Author: Ruby Dixon
Released: 03.04.2015
Buy from Amazon
3.70 (read)
Our review: No review yet

You'd think being abducted by aliens would be the worst thing that could happen to me. And you'd be wrong. Because now, the aliens are having ship trouble, and they've left their cargo of human women - including me - on an ice planet.

Guilty Pleasures

Title: Guilty Pleasures
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Released: 03.08.2003
Buy from Amazon
4.02 (read)
Our review:
5.00 (read)

Anita Blake is small, dark, and dangerous. Her turf is the city of St. Louis. Her job: re-animating the dead and killing the undead who take things too far. But when the city’s most powerful vampire asks her to solve a series of vicious slayings, Anita must confront her greatest fear—her undeniable attraction to master vampire Jean-Claude, one of the creatures she is sworn to destroy...

*This article was originally published in Hooked on Books on Medium.