I don’t tend to review many erotica titles on this blog, but I’d read enough glowing reviews of Delphine Dryden’s The Theory of Attraction that I knew I had to give it a go. In The Theory of Attraction, Dryden gives us a hero who is far from typical. While Ivan can accurately be categorized as a nerd, that by itself isn’t overly intriguing. Ask any number of women, myself included, and they’ll tell you that nerdy-chic is hot. But this isn’t the right forum for a discussion of the benefits of loving a Beta, particularly as Ivan winds up being as far from submissive as it gets.
Dryden flirts with introducing her readers to BDSM culture, of which I readily admit I have little knowledge. However, speaking as a member of the outside community looking in, I can attest to Dryden’s deft handling of the subject matter, as she gives us a glimpse into a way of life that intrigues even if it doesn’t tempt. Camilla and Ivan’s slow
progression from acquaintances to lovers is well paced, and the intimacy is without a doubt steamy. I would have liked to see a bit more emotional development divorced from the physical aspects of their relationship, but Dryden certainly doesn’t neglect showing us Camilla and Ivan’s mutual regard for each other. Still, I am a romantic at heart, and while I appreciate when an author has the ability to make the pages sizzle, ultimately Iwant a story to deliver on emotional depth.
That being said, I suspect that what I found to be the most compelling aspect of the novel was also the one that prevented Camilla and Ivan’s emotional connection from feeling fully explored. Though it is never confirmed, Dryden’s depiction of Ivan’s obsessive need for control and routine, coupled with his extreme discomfort and confusion regarding social interaction, suggest that he is afflicted with a disorder akin to Asperger’s or high-functioning autism. As a result, it remains somewhat unclear up until the end whether both characters are on the same page regarding their relationship, and while Dryden did a good job to clarify things by the end, it nevertheless lacked an extra something that would have made the ending truly satisfying. I would have liked to see Dryden explore a dual-narrative format, as it would have been lovely to see the contrast in Camilla and Ivan’s thoughts as their relationship progressed. Still, I wound up enjoying The Theory of Attraction quite a bit and recommend it to any readers who like their heroes cast in an unconventional mould and who are seeking a little extra heat to their romantic read.