That's what happened with Shona Husk's LUNAR REUNION (Ellora's Cave).
I mean, why fight the inevitable?! :)
I'd blogged about tentacle romance at Heroes and Heartbreakers last year, so my radar's been on high alert for such stories ever since. When Shona Husk contacted me about her latest release, at first I thought it was SFR blog business as usual. Then I read the last line of the blurb:
Six years ago Filid made the mistake of falling for another officer in the Allied Planetary Military. He walked away before they both did something they’d regret. Yet he can’t get her out of his mind, even now.
Silva has never forgotten Filid, but he is the last person she expects to see on the pleasure resort of Decadent Moon. This time she won’t let him walk away without exploring the fantasies she had about being with him.
Filid wants more than one night. This time he is determined to hold onto her no matter the cost.
Inside Scoop: Filid comes equipped with sexy tentacles that cannot be missed!
Following so closely on the heels of my H&H post, this news was pretty cool to me. I
read inhaled the book, eager to discover
how the author would integrate tentacles into the story. Here are a few
non-spoiler tags so you can decide if you'd like to take the same plunge:
* Overall, LUNAR REUNION veers toward erotic science fiction with romantic elements. The characters' sexual journey is the main focus of the story. That said, the particular type of romance is in the vein of reunited lovers (albeit the love they had for each other was initially of the forbidden kind, so neither acted on it).
* Action-adventure elements: none. Sci-fi elements: lite. This is very much a character-driven story.
* The lovemaking scenes are graphic, but sensual—and also 100% consensual.
* An empathic ability is present (I won't reveal how or whom, but it's used more judiciously in the lovemaking scenes than I expected. For me, it was a plus; your mileage may vary.)
* Hero and heroine are both aliens (i.e., humanoid aliens from planets other than Earth). The heroine could be interpreted as an alien person of color (depending on one's perspective). The setting indicates there are various types of alien races. If I recall correctly, there was nary an Earth human among the characters of this story.
* Hero has tentacles in a place I didn't expect (for me, surprises like this are a bonus and a part of why I enjoy SFR). The author made a strategic creative choice here because IMHO the specific bodily placement will help ease the learning curve for readers who are trying out tentacle themed erotic sci-fi romances for the first time.
LUNAR REUNION accomplished what I anticipated a romance author could do—reinvent the tentacle trope for a sci-fi romance. Especially when it comes to consensual sex. This isn't to say that tentacle themed SFRs are for every reader (the same way vampire romances aren't for everyone even if they feature non-scary types of vampires). But it can be done!
I really want to read more of these stories, especially with a variety of heat levels. Tentacle sex (whether one or both lovers have them) can be consensual and exciting and that's an aspect I'd love to see more sci-fi romances explore.
But tentacles don't have to be limited to erotic SFR shorts (and here's where metadata and tags would be very important in order to make that distinction for readers). I don't see why authors couldn't write a full-length novel or epic style story featuring tentacled characters. However, I'll concede that some readers would consider the presence of tentacles to make a story erotic even if the actual sex scene was mild.
I find the process of harnessing tentacles for science fiction romance a fascinating process. I guess that's because I like the strange nature of tentacles, but I'd like to enjoy them in more than just a horror/science fiction horror context (although a sci-fi romance with horror elements would be entertaining, too!).
Tentacle elements would pair nicely with biopunk settings, superhuman settings, or stories featuring genetic engineering. A hero or heroine could even use tentacles as weapons. Tentacles in the bedroom are fun, to be sure, but there's no harm in letting our imaginations run a little wilder!
Want to know more about LUNAR REUNION and its author? According to the news section on the author's site,
Book 1 and 2 of the Decadent Moon series, Lunar Exposure and Lunar Reunion, are out now. Lunar Dancer will be coming out soon with Ellora's Cave. Decadent Moon is an erotic sci-fi series set on an alien pleasure resort.
You can also read an interview with Shona Husk at the SFR Brigade.