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rough justiceRough Justice – by Janine Ellis. Harlequin Romance #2330 (1979)

It’s difficult to describe the disappointment of effective sexual tension that does not end in consummation. Oh wait. I know how. Harlequin has blue-balled millions of readers (and heroes).

No penetration station for these Harlequin Romances. None of Kleypas’ inexorable slides. A euphemism would have been fine. But there is even none of that.

Many of the back cover plot summaries promise women marrying men they hate, don’t know, are scared of, or are otherwise duped by. Perhaps when I hit one with a post-marriage plot, I’ll get my consommé. In the mean time, I am stuck with hauntingly unfulfilled. I am haunted, because this is really quite a well-written book.

The heroine is not stupid. She’s accepted the position of chambermaid at a rich friend’s hotel in Cornwall, England, where from 7am to 1pm she cleans rooms, (including the hero’s), but after work, she’s like one of the family – feuds and all.

As is typical with this decade, multiple actors people the set. The hero has his pick of three other women, total. The heroine, two men.

The title – Rough Justice – describes the hero. Lots of bruised wrists and lips, and jaw muscle clenching, twitching, and jumping. My favorite type of hero, Mr. Angrypants, who gentles when the temperature is right.

He hauled her to her feet, and for a moment she thought he was going to hit her. His hand found her throat and he forced her chin up so that she met his eyes. She had never seen such naked anger, and when he spoke he seemed to have difficulty keeping himself under control. ‘You won’t marry Graham, Lorraine,’ he bit out. ‘I don’t care what I have to do to prevent it…The sooner you give in to me, the better it will be for both of us. The longer you resist me, the worse I’ll make it for you.

Ahh. Make it worse. Please.

Mr. Angrypants is a sub-type of Hero Archetype #1, Mr. Reserve. Mr. Reserve may be trying not to do any number of things while he tries not to kiss you. Mr. Angrypants is simply trying not to rape you. The final scene of Rough Justice illustrates this, where you would think perhaps now that they’ve agreed to marry, you might get some:

‘Do you surrender?,’ he asked, and she nodded, stilling underneath him, and breathing rather shallowly as she felt his full weight against her…After a while, Mark lifted his head and gazed down at her with a warmth that made her shiver…’Tempting as you are, my darling, I’m still angry enough to hurt you – and, he added softly, ‘you know I don’t want to do that.’

Do it. Do it do it do it do it.

His 70s fashion standouts – a navy blue velvet suit, which he wears whenever they play dress-up. The other men wear black velvet suits, so I am assuming navy is somehow innovatory (sic). Innovatory is a word actually used in this book. I feel silly that I haven’t been using it myself.

Her 70s fashion. Simply awesome. I wanted every outfit she wore. Lots of gauzy white cotton dresses and leather sandals. Tight Tshirts and blue jeans. A navy blue and white striped shirt that she finished off with a ‘jaunty’ red kerchief around her neck, because she wanted to look ‘young, fresh and vulnerable.’ This heroine makes fashion choices.

I loved this book! As pitched on the back cover…She’d always wanted to meet Mark Taylor.

Me too.