I subscribed to an author's newsletter in order to download the free book she offered. I don't normally do such things because I detest such newsletters, but the story premise really intrigued me. I've read a couple of chapters and, thus far, it's well written. It's also typical--very typical--of the alien/abduction romance trope. That probably means it will succeed as a bestseller.
The scenario is familiar: human female explorer gathering information on an alien planet is captured and forcibly "mated" to a native. Of course, she enjoys it. That's typical for this type of romance. Realistic? No. Common? Yes. The native's race--of course--faces extinction due to some catastrophe that wiped out (or nearly so) their females (especially, the fertile ones). If it wasn't already, the native society becomes supremely male dominant with biologically compatible females needed to repopulate their species. In these stories, the males protect their precious females from serious harm and seek to produce as many offspring as possible. Of course, this means that these males demand and expect obedience from their females. The women, after some initial rebellion, always comply and find contentment. The woman gives up everything for the pleasure of that man (or men).
It's a pretty fantasy, isn't it? The fantasy builds upon millennia of indoctrination: exchange freedom and occupation for safety and security. My own romances take cues from that cultural fantasy: a protective and possessive male who sees to his mate's every physical need. Let's face it, ladies, we are physically weaker than men. We can be strong in our own right, but we don't have their brute strength. A lack of physical strength, however, does not correlate to a lack of mental strength or weak principles.
Something's missing in this book and all of those like it. While we cannot ignore our biology, we must acknowledge that we are more than our biology. Beyond fulfilling physical need, the mental and emotional aspects of humans also require nurturing and care. In the romance such as I began reading, I fear that the heroine will acquiesce to eternity, submitting entirely to his culture and failing to introduce any change either to his culture or to his perception and treatment of her.
Thus comes the "I can do better than that" challenge.
So, I'm writing an alien abduction romance that's also a reverse harem romance. (Hey, why not add another SEO keyword?) Yep, the reverse harem is another female fantasy. Men have enjoyed multiple wives and concubines for ages, so what's good for gander must also be good for the goose. The upshot is that my heroine reacts more like a real human being, more like a woman of modern times, more like a woman whose principles don't dissolve beneath the deluge of lust. She's more than just her hormones; she has a mind and isn't afraid to use it. Here's where the real twist comes in: the three males who capture her as their shared mate find themselves adjusting to fit. In short, both sides must compromise.
The story will end in an HEA (happily ever after). That's a given, because the book is a romance. I daresay the book will fade into eternal obscurity immediately upon publication, because it doesn't stick to the well-worn, familiar, and--dare I say--comfortable trope. That happened with The Barbary Lion and Russian Gold. (Reviewer response can be summed up as "How dare the heroine demand autonomy and respect?") But I hope it won't. I hope readers will find the story well-written and the characters relatable. I hope readers will appreciate my stretching the barriers of the sub-genre, perhaps even break through them just a little without venturing recklessly where no man or woman has gone before.
Take a walk on the wild side where adults find happiness through compromise as well as passion. I'll keep y'all posted on the progress of my next book, Triple Burn.