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REVIEW: The Principle of Desire by Delphine Dryden


Just for fun, a short synopsis, Twitter style.

Control Top @MasterAegis  28d
@Beth28 I’m coming home. Be waiting.

Seriously Switchy @Beth28 27d
Some guys need to learn how to take no for an answer. #subtweet #movingon

Rocket Man @MisterEd 5d
When you offer to be someone’s fake boyfriend and find yourself tied to a whipping post. And it’s fun. #whatthefrak

Seriously Switchy @Beth28 4h
My playlist: Torn between two lovers. Do I stay or do I go now. Breaking up is hard to do. #FML

Dear Ms. Dryden:

From the blurb, I expected the final novella in the “Science of Temptation” BDSM series to have a dominant woman/submissive man set-up, which seemed like a welcome change-up from the previous books.  It didn’t exactly deliver, but went in an equally interesting direction — one that could have used a full novel to do it justice.

Rocket scientist Ed may be smart, but he has no idea that several of his friends and their girlfriends have a secret life. When he uses a tracking app to find the phone he left in Ivan’s car, he discovers that they belong to a members-only club — and so does their very attractive friend Beth, whom he had just met that evening. Beth brings Ed in as a guest, leading other club members to assume he’s her submissive. When Beth’s former Dom — who still thinks he’s current — arrives, Ed offers to play along in exchange for a real date later. The play gets more serious than either intended, and both find themselves enjoying it.

Unlike the previous books in the series, the focus here is less on a newbie being introduced to BDSM than on the journey of  the more experienced partner. After years of being submissive to Aaron, a much older and very controlling man, Beth has been exploring her dominant side. With Ed, Beth discovers that it’s possibly to have kinky fun without specifically constructed roles and rules — to have a playmate, rather than a Master, “someone who was neither top nor bottom, but a fellow adventurer.” And she starts to wonder if Ed could give her the other things she wants out of life.

I enjoyed the originality of Beth’s journey, as well as the unique and authentically geeky Ed, with his “unshaven, unwaxed, non-metrosexual and non-ripped torso.” He’s “softer and furrier” than Beth is used to… and comfortable looking. Love it! Beth and Ed are sweet and playful together, and there’s some banter that had me laughing out loud at times. But I think too much story is stuffed into too small a space here. Not only do things move very fast between Ed and Beth, but Beth spends a significant part of the story thinking more about her ex than about Ed. His hold on her is understandably strong given their history, but, well… this is supposed to be a romance, too. It’s hard to get into sex scenes in which one character is constantly thinking about someone else, and being depressed about it, and the progression of the story only increased my doubts about whether Ed and Beth could wind up together. All of this might have worked beautifully if it were given more room to develop.

Readers who are looking primarily for depictions of the BDSM scene may appreciate this more than I did; they seem respectful and realistic. For readers of the previous books in the series, note that it gets a little further out there than I remember the other books doing: the main characters and those from the previous books all “play” together (apparently non-sexually), which is a little startling if you expect absolute monogamy in your romance. It’s not necessary to have read the previous books before this one, but it is fun to see the characters again, including the inflexible Ivan getting discombobulated as his Venn diagram of geek friends and kinky play friends begins to increasingly overlap.  There’s also a short bonus scene from the point of view of Cami from The Theory of Attraction, for those who want to catch up with her relationship with Ivan.

Ultimately, though I think this is definitely worth reading as erotica, I couldn’t help feeling that it didn’t quite fulfill its contract as a romance. B-



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Willaful fell in love with romance novels at an early age, but ruthlessly suppressed the passion for years, while grabbing onto any crumbs of romance to be found in other genres. She finally gave in and started reading romance again in 2006, and has been trying to catch up with the entire genre ever since. Look for her on twitter or at her blog at


  1. Cheryl
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 15:07:35

    I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one to feel this way. But I do have to say the scene where Ed agreed to be Beth’s boy toy so she could stand up to her ex at the club was simply priceless. Definitely one of the best scenes I’ve read all this year.

    I just wish there would have been more of that throughout the book.

  2. Tanya
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 15:23:44

    I’m really torn because Dryden has been one of the few bright spots in my reading this year, and the thought of a sexy, hairy non-super buff bear is simply beyond. But the mental lusting for the ex…yawn. Still, for a great hero I’ll drop a few pesos.

  3. Willaful
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 15:52:49

    @Tanya: It’s not mental lusting, more like unfinished business — with not enough time/space to finish it properly, IMO. If the hero appeals to you, it’s worth a try.

  4. Susan
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 16:32:27

    BTW, this is currently free at Amazon.

    When I checked the price, I saw that I had already bought the book over a year ago (probably for regular price) and subsequently lost it in the TBR pile.

  5. Melissa
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 16:49:25

    @Susan: I wonder if you were looking at the first book in the series…? When I looked today, only the Kindle version of the first book (The Theory of Attraction) was free on Amazon. The book reviewed here, The Principle of Desire, was just released (as far as I can tell).

  6. Jewel
    Dec 18, 2013 @ 08:04:24

    When I clicked the Amazon link above it took me to the search string “Delphine Dryden The Theory of Desire” which might be where the confusion is coming from over free/publication dates, since the title is actually The Principle of Desire; the term Theory was used in an earlier book’s title.

    On the plus side, I have greatly enjoyed the others in this series, so here I go clicking again! Thanks for letting me know it’s out there now.

  7. Willaful
    Dec 18, 2013 @ 11:39:18

    My apologies! I originally got the title confused — the “theory of desire” is so Platonic. ;-) — and it stuck in the formatting.

  8. CD
    Dec 19, 2013 @ 01:54:42

    “He’s “softer and furrier” than Beth is used to… and comfortable looking. Love it! ”

    Sold!! Although a little wary of the too much thinking about the ex bit…

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