Glitterland by Alexis Hall
Christmas Novella Round-up

Delphine Dryden's The Principle of Desire

The Principle of Desire

In one of the November DBSA podcasts Jane Litte from Dear Author commented that she is probably one of the few people reading Erotica for the story. I chuckled in recognition because I often feel the same way. I sometimes wish there was "sweet erotica" where we know there are plenty of kinky shenanigans happening off-page, without having to wade through the often repetitive technical descriptions in hopes of getting to the soul-affecting sex.

Del Drydren's books however are kinky, sexy and erotic in the best way. I never find myself skimming because the sex actually matters even when she happens to be introducing some BDSM principle or specialty sex-move. And the sex is funny and joyful. Her characters find joy in each other and their experiences together and it is incredibly attractive even if I can't imagine enjoying the some of the specifics.

The Principle of Desire is Dryden's third book in her "Science of Temptation" series that has frequently been described as BSDM meets the Big Bang Theory. In Theory of Attraction, Ivan, a rigid socially awkward scientist ask his neighbor Camilla for schmozzing lessons, so he doesn't lose the funding he needs for his scientific research to a departmental rival. She eventually discovers that in Ivan finds a sexual outlet in BDSM and he see sex as science experiement he is very good at. Sexual experiementaion and a surprisingly sweet love story develop. In The Seduction Hypothesis, Ben is trapped in a RV with his ex, Lydnsey on the way to a comic book convention. Earlier that summer Ben in moment of knee-jerk confusion broke up with her when she expressed interest in BDSM, an interest sparked by a kinky comic book series she and lots of other of his geek friends enjoy reading. Cos-play, role-play and lots of improvsation take place as Ben tries to win Lyndsey back by embracing his inner dominant.

In The Principle of Desire, Ed, a recurring character in the first two books, gamer and aerospace engineer often in the background missing the sexual double entendrees and blundering into sexually charged moment bumbles through his initial introduction to Beth a lecturer in Psycology at a local university, and new friend to Camilla. Flustered Ed spills his drink on her and is gently blown-off. Ed is however undettered and eventually sneaks her number off his friend's phone is hilarious moment of self-justification:

Karma, he suspected. The instant kind, because he’d been doing something unethical. Under the pretense of searching Ivan’s phone for a better song selection, he’d flipped through his friend’s contacts and noted Beth’s number and email address. Ed spent his days looking at line after line of code, and complex formulae and algorithms, so it was no effort at all to hang on to a ten-digit phone number and standard [email protected] email for long enough to return to the music app, pick a song at random, then switch to his own phone to enter the information. Ivan, focused on the road and his compulsive mirror-checking routine, didn’t even notice.

If he wanted to keep people out of his phone, he should have a better password than his girlfriend’s name with numbers replacing the vowels. A fifth grader could’ve hacked that. Really, Ed had picked up the phone out of idle curiosity, not with anything underhanded in mind. He would have expected Ivan to use a random character sequence as a passcode, and was startled as hell when the altered name he entered got him in. It seemed like providence, though, so he’d taken advantage.

The universe was obviously smacking him down for it. When he’d worked up the nerve to try calling Beth around nine that evening, he’d finally noticed the absence of his phone. And now Ivan wasn’t answering his cell. Neither was Cami.

Despite what Beth had said about not having plans with Cami that evening, it was at least obvious that Ivan, Cami and their neighbor Ben had all gone somewhere together. Making the rounds of the connected duplexes, Ed confirmed that none of them were home, but only Ivan’s car was gone from the carport. It was a short logical hop to deducing that Beth had been covering for the group because Ed hadn’t been invited. That stung a bit, but it was hardly the first time something like that had happened to him. He’d been a self-professed curmudgeon since the eighth grade, and he wasn’t usually who people wanted along when they went clubbing. In this case, the real annoyance was that he wouldn’t be getting his phone back until morning.

And then, like a stray sunbeam streaming from the clouds, a thought shone through Ed’s brain.

I have that GPS tracking app on the phone.


What he sees when he tracks them down is both hilarious and awesome. Ed and Beth relationship begins with a kinky version of the tried and true romance trope "fake engagement", as Ed poses as Beth's Submissive at the club in front of her ex and former Master.

On Twitter Dryden referred to The Principle of Desire as Ed's story, but it is really Beth's book. Beth has recently detached herself from a consuming eight-year relationship. Her ex was more Master than boyfriend throughout their relationship, dominating her life choices beyond the bedroom and Beth is only just starting to realize how little she has paid attention to her own wants and desires since she met him. One of the desires her ex was unwilling to acknowledge, is for her to occasionally hold the sexual reins. Beth is a Switch, someone who enjoys being either a top or bottom in a sexual encounter and is just starting to learn what means to her. The book in the end is essentially true what Dryden described as her core story in a recent Wonk-O-mance post by Megan Multry, in that Beth needs to acknowledge her needs and desires enough to realize she can be in a relationship without simply disappearing again, and that she needs to choose someone for who they are, not who they are not.

Beth and Ed are my favorite of the Dryden's Science of Temptation couples. I really enjoyed the banter and interplay between Beth and Ed as they start getting to know each other, from their awkward negotiations of what actually counts as date to their long intimate conversations on dealing the disaproval of family members. The necessary conflicts that arose between Ed, Beth and her ex were legitimate and convincingly resolved and in end I was left wanting to spend more time with Beth and Ed.


Release Date: Dec 9, 2013

A digital review copy was provided by publisher Carina Press via Netgalley.


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