REVIEW: The Seduction Hypothesis by Delphine Dryden
Dear Ms. Dryden:
The Seduction Hypothesis is the sweetest book I’ve ever read involving stainless steel butt plugs and a spreader bar with a set of neoprene ankle cuffs. The hero Ben is just adorable. A few months ago he stupidly broke up with his now ex-girlfriend Lindsay because he’d panicked, an act he’s regretted since the moment he did it. Now, the two are on their way to BeastCon–sort of nerd convention for fans of comics/games/anime–and Ben is going to use the next five days to get her back.
It takes Ben just a few hours riding to Phoenix with Lindsey for him to realize she is turned on big time by the erotic graphic comic she’s reading, Balls ‘n’ Chain. Ben knows just how she’s feeling.
In the single issue he’d read, the girl called Sub Red had worn a shiny black sleeveless catsuit thing unzipped almost to her navel, with suicidally high-heeled boots. Halfway through the comic, the pants had been replaced with short shorts for some reason he couldn’t recall.
He’d read that entire issue with a painful hard-on, put the comic aside and never touched another one for fear he’d explode. It was actually more potent than porn in its effect on him, but he felt horribly guilty for getting turned on by the stuff. He wasn’t supposed to be aroused by the idea of hitting girls on the ass with whips. Or his hand. Or any of the rest. He couldn’t understand why Lindsey, who seemed as progressively feminist as all the other girls of their circle, wanted to read something so misogynistic. True, there were as many women giving the beatings in Balls ‘n’ Chain as receiving them. But shouldn’t that be beside the point? Even the Dominatrices were objectified into sex objects. Hell, everyone was objectivized into a sex object.
He’d told her as much, maybe even scolded her a little, the next time she’d tried to show him a panel from the comic.
Ben, who really is a total peach pie, is also very smart. (A grad student in history. Sigh.) As he thinks about himself and Lindsey, he begins to understand that the whole Master/Slave dynamic is just the thing he needs to, well, master, in order to be the guy Lindsey wants. In fact, not only does he want to be that guy for Lindsey, he wants to be that guy for himself. So, when they get to Phoenix, Ben embarks upon a well-thought out and very sexy totally in charge seduction of Lindsey. It’s the nicest, hottest, campaign to get a girl out of her Slave Leia costume I’ve ever read.
The Seduction Hypothesis is a great book. It’s funny, emotionally engaging, and full of fabulous dialogue. As Ben begins to begin to be Master Ben, he runs everything he’s doing by Lindsey. This endeared him to me. It’s not enough for Ben to realize what Lindsey wants, he’s such a good guy, he talks her through why they weren’t like this before, and how, now, it’s all going to be different.
At the convention, Lindsey, who looks a lot like Sub Red, is recruited to stand-in for–actually, be tied up as–Sub Red at the Balls ‘n’ Chain booth. Ben finds her after she’s done her first shift.
“Did that guy paddle your ass? Or spank you, or flog you, or any other variation of that?”
Lindsey shook her head against the tug of his fingers, her mouth suddenly too dry to speak. She was breathing too fast, practically panting. If Ben slid a hand between her legs right now she’d go off like a bottle rocket.
He seemed to give a lot of thought to what he said next, stating it slowly and clearly as though he wanted there to be no misunderstanding.
“I can’t stop thinking about doing all that to you. Not just the spanking, either, a lot more. A lot. If anybody is going to do that stuff to you, I want it to be me. Nobody. Else.”
She was so accustomed to thinking of him as cute, as harmless. The kind of man who would never hurt a fly. Softly focused, with his sandy hair and indeterminate hazel eyes, vacillating about his career. She’d never seen this version of him until last night’s assertive kiss, this razor-sharp Ben who knew what he wanted and seemed potentially ruthless about getting it.
But still. “Just because you think that’s what I wanted you to do before?” The music shifted gears, growing louder, and the bass drum throbbed through her bones in a maddening primal beat.
Ben shook his head and leaned closer, until their lips were almost touching. “No. Because the thought of putting you over my knee and smacking your perfect butt until it looks like my handprint’s tattooed on there makes me so hard I can barely walk. It made me hard before, too, but I was a fucking idiot and thought I had to feel guilty about getting turned on by shit like that. I’m willing to work on my guilt issues if you’re willing to let me take you up to that hotel room right now and violate you eight ways from Sunday.”
Oh, oh, oh…
Oh, oh, oh is right. This book should come with a fan or a teeny tiny portable air conditioner.
I loved everything about this book. The secondary characters–Ben and Lindsey get helpful tips from Ivan and Cami, the couple from the first book in Ms. Dryden’s The Science of Temptation series, The Theory of Attraction–are effectively rendered and add humor and nuance to the novel. The convention is described in fascinating detail and gives the story an ideal context. Ms. Dryden’s writing is wonderful; she shifts easily back and forth from Ben’s and Lindsey’s perspectives, giving each a clear and interesting voice.
For me, this book was a perfect romance read. The Seduction Hypothesis is a kinder, sweeter book than its predecessor, The Theory of Attraction. This novel has lots of hot, kinky sex in it but is first and foremost a love story. The BDSM in it is just one part of the lovely relationship between Ben and Lindsey. The two use their altered sexual dynamic to improve their already strong bond. As Ben tells Lindsey, “I always knew you were a pervert. I just needed to grow up enough to realize that was a feature, not a bug.”
Ms. Dryden’s latest gets an A- from me.