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In honor of the launch of Hollywood’s iteration of Fifty Shades of Grey, and my aching, silent love affair with Mr-Grey-will-see-you-now Jamie Dornan, I’ve found a vintage Harlequin romance that spanks.

They’re in Africa growing citrus. Three orphaned cousins at the finegaling of their aging uncle abandon their fiancées for a year to the old man’s farm. Because he doesn’t trust the boys they’ve chosen, he will withhold their inheritance if they don’t farm for a year.

Oddly enough, if, after the year, they return to their original boy-choices, he will still withhold their inheritance. But ah, well. Harlequin plots have seen less tenable bargains.

And this one promises spanking. On the back cover.

To Tame a Vixen

Beth couldn’t forget or forgive the humiliation.

An illustrious beginning.

Ten years before, Chad Barret had put Beth across his knee and spanked her with her own leather sandal.

Hmm. 1978. What might it have been? A huarache? A Bass Sunjun?

In any case, the heroine was twelve, and it happened off-screen. Bugger.

Worse, when it happens on-screen, it’s absent of everything we want in a hard, perverted slap on the ass.

When at last he held her from him she was ready; her hand came up and fetched him a slap across his smiling, triumphant face. He caught her hand, twisted her arm and her body at the same time. She gasped disbelievingly at the swiftness of the manoevre that brought her across his uplifted knee. He actually moved her dress before the beating began.

Well, actually, that was kind of hot.

But I had to delete the several sentences that follow. They’re outside a social club, and really. There’s been very little threatening build-up. No lip-biting or drafts of contracts promising titillating pain. It’s only page thirty. No more spanking follows. Only bruising kisses and upper arm bruises.

Chad is a brute, and Beth is a shrew. He calls her a bitch several times throughout the book. We know nothing about why he’s always threatening to bruise her, why he can’t just let his lips graze every so softly over her mouth.

Only that he’s dominant, domineering, manly. And doesn’t look good in black or beige.

It’s not a very good book. About it would seem on par with Fifty Shades, which after only a few hours in the theaters, has garnered little support from the masses, with 1 1/2 stars on Rotten Tomatoes.

So, can I go see him now?