She’s a human. This place she’s at is not where she wants to be, but she’s trapped here.
He’s an alien. He’s a warrior of some sort. He loves where he is. The only thing he’s missing in life is a mate. He’ll know his mate is his without any sort of courtship process because of the species of alien he is, and he’s not actively looking for her. He doesn’t necessarily want a mate.
Which is good, because there aren’t nearly enough females who can reproduce, and most males don’t get mates. This concerns him mostly because his species is dying out. He wants his species to thrive, but he personally doesn’t need a mate.
Those guys are the enemies. They are disgusting, troll-like creatures with some impressive technological advancement that makes it difficult for the good-guy species to fight them. They also don’t have enough females. They kidnap and imprison females of other species for breeding purposes.
Aliens and humans can reproduce together.
The good guy alien meets the human female and knows she’s his mate. The bad guy aliens do their best to imprison the human female. That’s not necessarily in chronological order.
The human female thinks the good guy alien is the hottest effing thing she has ever seen in her life. She is a strong, independent woman, but she is DTF that good guy alien and his gigantic but otherwise human-like genitals. She absolutely does not believe in bonding or love at first sight or whatever ridiculousness this alien is spouting—and neither will the other three to six human women who witness this occurring and the end result of it before other aliens pull that schtick with them—but she considers it mostly harmless to bang him a few times before dipping.
The sex with him is transcendent. Still, she plans to dip. Again, this is not where she wants to be, and she is a strong, independent woman. She doesn’t need a man.
There is a kidnapping. There is a rescue. She realizes she loves him and actually, this place isn’t so bad.
Also, there are translator devices that make everyone understand each other.
Look, I love tropes. I love stories chock-full of tropes. I love most of the tropes I’ve just listed (the not enough females thing bothers me, as well as the extended mate-denial). The problem here is that so many alien romance books fit this formula exactly. Not even the classic fairy tale or Shakespearean retellings are this formulaic. (Did you see my review of These Violent Delights? *Chef’s Kiss*)
These books do really well, I get it. It’s easy to follow the formula and pump out a pile of these. And readers will love them. If you want to argue that these are really successful and why mess with something that works this well, I don’t really have anything to come back with.
Except, like, do better. Use half these tropes and figure out something new and exciting for the rest of it. Invert the tropes. Actually do one of those fairy tale or Shakespearean retellings but with aliens in space. And not for the fourth book in the series when you’ve hopefully figured out that your readers are getting fatigued. I can’t tell you how many alien romance authors I’ve read one series from and said, “She’s a good writer, that was a well-written series, but I can only read the same book so many times, so I’ll never read her again.”
Saying all this, I’m absolutely using these tropes in my alien romances. I can’t stress enough that I do like most of these tropes. I just want them sprinkled throughout. I want these tropes used, I just don’t want the exact same story starting every single series. I get that world-building is an important part of the genre, and y’all really do have creative, exciting, unique worlds. But this is romance, the characters and plot trump the world-building, and y’all are writing the same characters into the same plot.
Also, I can’t stress enough, I picked up alien romance thinking it was going to be lady space pirates getting it on with hot-but-weird-looking guys with weird junk vaguely reminiscent of some of the more creative toys you can get at adult shops. Give me weird junk.
If you’d like weird junk, I’ve written some shorts to help me develop my world while I’m working out the big series. You can find them on my Medium page.