A Good BDSM Introduction: The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden

9 Jul

I’m going to be honest here. BDSM isn’t my thing, but I always enjoy well-written erotica, since the point of erotica is writing sexually explicit material that advances the plot, usually one of self-discovery and/or a relationship between two people.

I was elated, therefore, to find upon reading a NetGalley copy of Delphine Dryden‘s new enovella, The Theory of Attraction, that she has touched on all points. This is a sexy, lengthy novella about one woman’s discovery of a type of relationship she had no knowledge of, complete with explicit, caring scenes that advance the relationship between the hero and heroine.

This story is told solely from Camille’s perspective and while anyone who reads this blog knows that I am far from being a fan of the first person, in this case it works. Camille is on a journey of self-discovery since she has no idea that she’s a submissive and through the sex scenes we see with our hero, Ivan, that he grows both in confidence and in his feelings for Camille. The point of view is pitch perfect in this case.

Camille has been a neighbor and friend to Ivan for a couple of years now, but only recently has she noticed that the brusque astrophysicist is actually, well, kind of luscious, particularly when he goes running shirtless in the Texas heat wave they are experiencing. A stickler for a timetable, she sets her clock by Ivan’s routine, but she’s finding their mutual geek friends more and more annoying – she wants to spend time with him one-on-one.

Not that she thinks Ivan notices.¬†Cami doesn’t believe Ivan sees her as a woman, but she’s wrong. Ivan probably would fall on the autism spectrum with his perpetual struggle to read human behavior (shades of The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie here). It isn’t that he can’t do it if he sets his mind to it, its that he doesn’t see the point. Knowing that in order to get ahead at the university he needs to demonstrate an ability to mingle and schmooze fundraising opportunities, he asks Cami to give him lessons in how to be social.

As Cami spends time with Ivan she suspects he not only knows that she’s dressing differently to entice him but that he’s actually flirting with her a little. Her suspicions are confirmed when she takes him for a trial run with friends to a movie. He hints that he knows what she’s doing but she doesn’t understand what she might be in for. Confronting him about it has him boldly spell it out for her. Unlike the lack of experience she has assumed he has, he actually is very experienced, but like everything in his life, Ivan has to be in control. Ivan is a dominant.

Cami only has the barest understanding of what this means and the more he explains to her, the more she wants to try it, for a specific reason.

I wanted to see him feeling things. I wanted to see him have feelings so strong he couldn’t hide from them. Couldn’t control his reactions. I wanted to make Ivan Reynolds completely lose his shit. Barring that, I would settle for Ivan making me completely lose my shit, which seemed a lot more likely.

And they both do exactly that. Ivan trains Cami to be the perfect submissive, introducing her to all sorts of toys and restrains, floggings, etc. But rather than be frightened at any of it (he naturally teaches her how to use a safeword before starting their relationship), she is incredibly turned on by his knowledge and his arousal at being in control.

He called it taking, but I felt as though he were giving me these things, these actions, like pieces of himself. Challenging me to receive these odd gifts, because they were all he had to give. His attention, his regard. His respect, which was the strangest thing of all, because I had expected to feel degraded at some point in all this and instead I felt valued beyond measure. Cherished. Strong.

The Lamplighter’s Love by Delphine Dryden (Ellora’s Cave, September 9, 2011)

I could care less about all the BDSM play but Dryden’s uncanny ability to beautifully show the evolution of emotion through sex is fantastic. It’s this ability to tap into emotion that makes this book such an excellent introduction to BDSM stories for someone unfamiliar with the dynamics. A novice reader can learn along with Cami while also understanding the reciprocity of shared emotion that ideally accompanies this relationship. I’m not totally surprised at Dryden’s mastry. I read her Steampunk enovella, The Lamplighter’s Love and was impressed by the world she created but most of all the dynamic of master and teacher portrayed in that work. It seems to be a specialty of hers!

Delphine Dryden also has a terrific website which an example of what a great author website should be – obvious social networking links, a stunningly beautiful design, her books clearly highlighted and easy to find. It’s not a shock then to read in the author credits on the novella that she designs websites in her spare time. I was also pleased to see such a gorgeous cover for the book (I’m so tired of mediocre erotica covers), but then, that’s Carina Press for you. Their covers are always terrific.

So if a friend says they don’t understand the whole BDSM thing or isn’t willing to fork over full price for Fifty Shades of Grey without knowing more, have them try this great value for the money enovella first to see if they like it. At under $4, it’s a bargain for someone wanting to see if this type of romance is for them.

One Response to “A Good BDSM Introduction: The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, December 15, 2013 | torimacallister - December 15, 2013

    […] who can read departmental situations, this sexy nerd romance is simultaneously erotic and sweet. It would be worth paying full price for, but free? You don’t need a genius IQ to figure out that’s a […]

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