Cover Image: Principle Decisions

Principle Decisions

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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley and author Thea Belmont for the copy in exchange of my honest review.

"A no-strings-attached agreement with a dominatrix seems perfect for a sexually frustrated academic…until she learns the other woman’s identity. A moving BDSM erotic romance.

Icy, aloof professor Vivienne Carter is too busy working and raising her teenage niece to have time for a relationship. When she discovers a business card for mysterious Selene, a local dominatrix, Vivienne is intrigued. Why not get her itch scratched? No feelings need be involved.

But then she discovers her alluring dominatrix is actually the bossy new principal at her niece’s high school.

What happens when Vivienne’s called to her office because her niece just can’t seem to stay out of trouble? Worse, what happens when feelings do get involved?"

I tried loving this book. But it's not for me. I'm having a hard time connecting with the characters.

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i'll start of by saying this handled kink and communication very well! this was probably the strongest part of the book honestly for me.

i had to force myself to finish this book, and it sort of put me in a bit of a slump. let's look at the reasons why;

1. aside from the kink aspect, viv and selene felt so incredibly flat and boring. i didn't care for either of them at all, which meant i couldn't connect to them on any level.
2. it was entirely 'she did this. then she did this. she felt this. then this happened.' and i struggle with this writing style. it doesn't keep me immersed at all and i prefer to be shown things as well as being told info. this was all tell no show.
3. the conflict, or 3rd act was ludicrous and i almost laughed at the ridiculousness of it.
4. giving me insta love vibes. i couldn't feel all that much chemistry between the two ladies which meant their whole relationship was as stale as month old bread.

some of the sex scenes were hot tho and again, the communication and how kink was handled were rreally good. it's a shame i didn't really like anything else.

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Thanks to Ylva Publishing for the digital galley of this book.

Vivienne Carter is too busy for a relationship, or even a casual fling. She lives with her sister, and they are raising her teenage niece. Between that and working as a college professor, Vivienne has little time for anything else. One day, she comes across a business card in a book for dominatrix Selene. She’s intrigued, and there don’t need to be any feelings involved. When she discovers Selene is the new principle at her niece’s school and feelings get involved, the situation gets more complicated.

This was a fun, quick read. I’m a sucker for an ice-queen romance, so that’s what drew me to this one in the first place, that and Selene being both a principle and a dominatrix who has no trouble blending the two aspects of her life. I enjoyed the romantic dynamic, and though the niece was a little dramatic at times (what teenager isn’t?), I enjoyed this read. If you’re looking for something with a bit of spice to read this Valentine’s Day, give this one a shot.

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This book had a slow start but once I got into it I was obsessed!😍 some of the phrasing made me cringe a lil bit but overall it was such a good book! I loved the story line but also spiceee🌶️👀 I loved the relationship between the main characters and how it played out😩 Wlw romance and spice😍

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As much as I enjoyed the story, and deeply appreciated the care that went into the BDSM element, there was something about the author's writing style that felt stiff and I couldn't connect with. I think Vivienne was a wonderful character - complex and harsh but also lovely. Overall, I did like this book.

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I wasn´t sure about this book, since I am not really in BDSM and I didn´t know the author. But the storyline was good. I enjoy reading it.

The main character Vivienne put her life a side to raised her orphan niece and in this proces she need some balance for all the stress. She enter a business relationship, but discover, that her new business partner is also a principal of her niece.

Decision must be made... so every one hopefully get his happy end

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An interesting take on a Dom/Sub relationship.

Despite the love interests having an “insta-love” type romance I did enjoy the story between them.

At times I wanted to rip out my hair because of Vivenne’s kowtowing to her niece’s demands. But it made a point in the story so it wasn’t overly frustrating.

I’m excited to see what Thea Belmont brings to her future stories.

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Enjoy yourself!!

Clearly been in love with Selene. Could I found a card to hire her in one of my books????

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A new author and debut book so I was quite keen to read Principle Decisions with leads Vivienne and Selene.
Unfortunately, the storyline was somewhat choppy. The school principle/domme aspect just didn't fly for me as well as the ice queen role reversal. Torrid yes but quick declaration of love not so believable. Of the supporting characters Hattie stood out and I couldn't understand the need for Vivienne to be so mean to her sister. That seemed over the top and was in fact bullying - one of the threads in the book.
Overall disappointment in a plot that tried too hard. However, I give a rating of 3 to encourage the author.

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I read it, but it lost me at impact play.

I don’t like third person, and having just one side is also not something I can get into.

Also her niece was a bit weird to me.

Characters felt flat.

Thanks to NetGallery for this arc.

1/5 stars.

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Without spoilers:

Ice queen meets domme that melts her heart?

Sounds promising and definitely is a good book to explore sub/domme sapphic relationships. Relatively tame but easy to read and enjoyable... if you catch my drift. It is also sooooo refreshing to read a book that explores sex work without being condescending or ignorant. Thank you!

Definitely worth reading and I am excited to read more of Thea's work in the future!

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I have painfully mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed everything about Vivienne and Selene very much. Two strong personalities make the submission a lot of fun to read. All the scenes with Vivienne and Selene on page together are scorching hot. The battle of wills is delicious. The falling in love is a bit quick, it feels as if the author could have stretched the exploration of lust as a basis a little more, but Vivienne is a complicated soul and I won’t pretend to understand her.

Everything else, however, feels in the way. Except for the niece (the trans friend arc is sweet), the other characters barely exist and editing/proofreading approximations make the story hard to follow. That said, I read a review copy, so these might have been fixed in the final version.

It’s frustrating because there is so much potential. I really hope the author keeps writing and publishing and I look forward to this potential being fulfilled.

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A good debut novel. A spicy racy BDSM book. It will draw you in from the first page. Will be looking more books from this author.

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I've read ... quite a few 'romance' (as you can see from my shelve). And obviously, power balance/imbalance is one of the major tropes. Usually, there's a formula (I mean, I value the reason for structures because it works although it is a bit more predictable that way), maybe some outrages 'points' the book is trying to make and forcefully thrust (I hate the word thrust, but can't think of another) it into the book and make sure people SEE the power dynamic (like a solid ice queen, billionaire, age-gap, etc).

What I find refreshing with Thea Belmont's Principle that, she didn't FORCE all of those cliche into the book. Sure is it realistic? WHO CAN SAY. (Is a billionaire romance realistic? no? is that why we read it? NO!) But what it is ... is that it reads like a solid two-way romance. I'd almost say the BDSM part is a bit of a vehicle of 'what they do', but at the heart of it, it's an entertaining, HOT/spicy romance. I can respect that.

A 'balanced BDSM Romance' ... seems like an oxymoron.
But I like it, the insecurity from the characters can stem from just basic human uncertainties when it comes to 'how does the other person feel, this is a business arrangement so I'm guessing they're not really pouring their heart into it, so I can be the only one with feelings here'. The insecurity doesn't have to come from 'oh, they are a billionaire, they can have anybody they want, why would they like me?' (insert eye rolls, please).

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is. This is a solid read. I'd recommend this. Time well spend.

I'm glad I've had a chance to retain an advance copy through NetGalley + YLVA in exchange for my honest opinion towards this book.

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For a debut novel, I think most readers will enjoy Principle Decisions for what it is at face value; a spicy BDSM romance.

By day Vivienne Carter is a formidable university professor caring for her orphaned teenage niece. She hides her true needs and desires behind the responsibility and busyness of life.
But when she discovers a business card inside a book for the dominatrix services of Selene, it seems Vivienne might finally get a chance to release some of her sexual tension.

If only life was that simple! What started as a no-strings-attached agreement, soon becomes complicated when Selene's entire identity is revealed, and deeper feelings begin to grow.

I liked that Principle Decisions is a really easy read; the depth of the plot is quite surface level and so the focus is mostly on Vivienne and Selene's sexual interactions, with only a couple of other supporting characters and/or events of a non-sexual nature. Vivienne's character is verging on being somewhat of an ice queen and she has previous experience of BDSM which makes for interesting dynamics as she engages Selene's services as a dom.

What I didn't enjoy so much was that Vivienne's niece comes across as an entitled brat. I still don't feel like I understand why Vivienne threw away a blossoming relationship because a 16-year-old told her to. Vivienne's treatment of her sister Hattie also verges on cruel at some stages; Vivienne's stress just isn't enough to explain the tension and obvious strain in that relationship.
There's very little in the way of character background or development to truly understand Vivienne's relationships with her niece and sister. I'd have liked to have seen the author go deeper with Selene's story, but I suspect this is a result of the story being told only from Vivienne's point of view.

For a debut novel from a new author, I think Principle Decisions has some great aspects, particularly if you enjoy BDSM scenes, but it also has its weaker parts, which I felt arose from the overall lack of character development and narrow plot setting. How much you enjoy this book will depend on what you like to find in your books, but there's plenty of spice and it is a nice enough read on the whole.

NB. For those readers who aren't really into BDSM, this is pretty tame overall. The story mainly focuses on impact play, painful pleasure and the traditional sub/dom dynamic.

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Soooooo Good!

Vivienne finds a business card for Selene, a dominatrix, tucked within a book and can’t fight the desire to explore what might be on offer. When Vivienne is called to her niece’s high school, Selene is the last person she expected to be in the principal’s office.

This was fabulously erotic, fun, and moving all at the same time. I enjoyed every second of the story, from the initial meeting between Vivienne and Selene to finding out how their paths were almost destined to cross in other places. Their reactions to everything were always a little unexpected and surprising. Each of them were strong and slightly elusive but Selene actually really surprised me when we got to know her better outside of her other profession.

Vivienne was trying so hard to keep her cool and not get swept or carried away in fantasies but she loved to daydream and share thoughts that gave us very intimate insight into how she was feeling, what all these experiences were like, and that she too had a hidden side that wasn’t anything like what everyone got on the surface. She was a family orientated person, loyal and caring, but also sometimes lacking some awareness that landed her in situations that weren’t as easy for her to control. At times she had her hands full with her niece’s and Selene’s antics, and it was great being along with her for the ride.

Just a lot of fun, very sexy, laced with a deeper emotional connection that brought a whole new level to this type of story, injected some humour, and made it unforgettable.

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This is a well-written debut novel. I always say I wish there were more books in the genre with healthy portrayals of the kink world and BDSM. Is this? Yes and no. To be honest, I didn't like that Selene didn't provide aftercare after Vivienne's first caning. I'm not talking about coddling her, but at the very least, tending to the welts. One could argue Vivienne said she was fine, so I let it go, but it still didn't sit right with me.

Moving on, the story is told entirely from Vivienne's point of view, so we only get her side of the story. We barely scratch the surface of who Selene is, which was disappointing.

Their relationship is based on sex and the sex is plentiful. The emotional connection, not so much.

As I type this, I realise I haven't had much good to say. But there is plenty to like about this novel, so pick up it and give it a shot.

ARC provided by Ylva Publishing, via NetGalley.

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Principle Decisions centres on Vivienne Carter, an icy professor who, while overwhelmed with caring for her niece, stumbles into the world of BDSM to address her neglected desires. She hires Selene, a dominatrix, only to discover Selene is also the new principal at her niece's school, complicating their no-strings-attached arrangement.

Belmont interestingly flips the usual dynamic, making Vivienne, not Selene, the ice queen of the story. Vivienne's prickly demeanour outside the bedroom contrasts with her submissive nature during their BDSM scenes. The physical aspect of their relationship is intense and well-described, hitting the mark for those seeking erotic content. This is where Principle Decisions truly shines.

However, the story has little development of Vivienne and Selene's emotional connection. The relationship is largely confined to their physical encounters, so unfortunately their falling in love comes across as somewhat forced. A deeper exploration of their personal lives and their non-physical relationship would have provided further depth to the narrative.

While the BDSM elements are not overly intense, they might not appeal to everyone, though certain scenes are undeniably steamy. This novel leans heavily towards the erotic side of romance as it offers sizzling scenes for those looking for an erotic fix, but with a HEA ending.

Thea Belmont's entry into sapphic fiction with Principle Decisions brings a fresh voice to the genre. I'm excited to read whats next from her in the future.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Ylva Publishing for a copy of this novel. ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

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3.5 Stars Thea Belmont has written a captivating BDSM sapphic romance. The story moves quickly, sometimes a little too quickly for my liking. There is definite chemistry between Vivienne and Selene from the moment they meet and their time together exploring Vivienne's submissive side is fully detailed and very steamy. I enjoyed the dynamic between them, especially when Vivienne would be icy or prickly and Selene would brush it off and say something sweet and a little bit risque. Selene had Vivienne pegged from moment one. While their relationship evolves, the lack of deep, meaningful conversations between them is a missing piece.

The story explores family dynamics and I would have liked more details about Vivienne's complex relationship with her sister, Hattie, and the niece she's raising, Claudia.

If you're looking for a sapphic romance that is heavy on the BDSM and light on the drama and angst, then I'd recommend giving this one a whirl.

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4.25 stars

I love it when new voices are added to the mix in sapphic fiction and Thea Belmont is a welcome one.

This book was smokin' hot. Icy Professor Vivienne Carter has neglected her own needs for years since taking over the care of her niece. While she has no time for relationships, she decides to let off some steam and hire a dominatrix after she unexpectedly happens upon her business card. Vivienne has certain desires and kinks that a dominatrix can fulfill nicely. But she discovers that Selene, the delicious dom she hired and starts to develop feelings for, is also the new principal at her niece's high school. While she wasn't looking for a relationship, this revelation certainly complicates matters.

It was an interesting dynamic that the ice queen in this story was the professor, more than the dom. When they had a scene, Selene took over, but otherwise Vivienne is prickly with pretty much everyone in her life. And she is with Selene at times as well, outside of their play. She is convinced she needs no one - that she's self-sufficient and has her family to care for, but she definitely responds physically when someone else takes the reins. Certainly in the bedroom.

This is one of those insta-lust stories and the mains had little interaction outside the bedroom so the falling in love aspect was… suspect. That said - women tend to develop emotional bonds at a quicker pace and Selene definitely “saw” Vivienne, which is appealing to anyone. And being in that kind of dom/sub relationship does require a whole lot of trust. Still, I would have liked to see their relationship fleshed out more.

There were family dynamics explored as well and social issues taking place at the school that were a good complement to the overall story. I would have liked to have learned more about Vivienne's complex relationship with her niece and sister, though.

For those not really into BDSM, this was relatively tame although the pain aspect always makes me squirm. But some of their encounters were ridiculously hot and I'd definitely be interested in an audiobook version with the right narrator. Bottom line - this is an erotic romance with focus on the erotic. So if you're looking for a sweeping romance, this isn't it. However, it definitely scratches a certain...itch.

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