Reviewed by Julian Robinson
To the uninitiated, spanking seems insufficient to merit an entire volume of stories. After all, it's basically one simple physical act. But then couldn't the same be said for sex, that it's basically only a few simple physical acts? To its devotees, spanking, like sex, possesses infinite nuance, infinite subtleties of setting, style, intensity, implements, accessories, purpose, and meaning.
That one simple physical act -- a swat on the bottom -- derives its fundamental appeal from a combination of powerful aspects. The spankee safely experiences submission, vulnerability, exposure, anticipation, shame, humiliation, pain without damage (though potentially potent pain nonetheless), and unavoidable arousal due to the proximity of the sex organs to the area of impact. The spanker enjoys dominance, a delightful view, the tactile sensation of well-padded resilient flesh, relief from sexual performance pressure, and a guaranteed response.
At a deeper psychological level, there's the loss of responsibility and the assumption of control; the expiation of guilt and the administration of justice; the attainment of, and guiding to catharsis, purification, even healing.
Editrix extraordinaire Rachel Kramer Bussel has rounded up twenty brisk and stinging tales that reveal the many sides of spanking, from playful erotic accent to punishing payback for a long ago wrong. Smoothly blended technique tips and how-to hints are a bonus for those looking to enhance their spanking life. Rick Roberts' lead-off "Spanking You" boldly wanders from the buttocks to belabor the thighs, breasts, and pussy of his eager subject. Alison Tyler's "Betty Crocker Gone Bad" begins with one of the sexiest garments of all: an apron worn by a woman wearing nothing else, and proceeds through creatively perverse applications of common cooking tools. (Do you know anyone whose kitchen walls display multiple wooden breadboards with hefty handles and whose utensil bins contain an excess number of large wooden spoons? Do they color uncontrollably at the word "spatula"? Ah hah! You've found a spanko.) There's an old-time spanking game in Donna George Storey's "A Rare Find," in which coin flips determine who gets it, whether bare, with what, and how hard.
Strict spanking constructionists may be miffed by all the accompanying sex, though spanking certainly serves as foreplay for many of its fans. And much of that sex has a dominant/submissive feel. Here's a spirited round of queening from Sage Vivant's "Game, Set, Match": "Her orgasms were as difficult to count as they were to measure, so he didn't try. He only let her scent, her moisture, and her moans guide him."
At least the traditional spanking spirit is generally observed in the lack of leather fetish and bondage gear and the use of everyday objects as spanking tools to save those sore hands -- hairbrushes, belts, switches, even a skateboard. As a writerly in-joke, books themselves prove useful in whacking several pairs of naughty buttocks. What could be more ironic than being spanked with a copy of The Art of Spanking?
Aforesaid by-the-book chastisement occurs in the volume's most elegantly literary offering, Shanna Germain's "Perfect Bound." A model of Victorian propriety, her erotic bookstore owner dresses like Harriet Marwood and offers a work-for-spanks program to trembling young men who dream of her firm hand raining down upon their virgin nether cheeks: "I can tell by the way they move their eyes toward me, then away, like I'm just another book on the shelf. I've seen boys look at porn with the same denial of fervor." Germain's droll, witty style harmonizes perfectly with her heroine, who has an unusual fetish for typewriter ribbon (please Google it if this is an unfamiliar term).
"Through a Glass, Sharply" by Elizabeth Coldwell employs equally elegant terse British understatement to an account of a spanking husband and wife who confound stereotypes: she's a petite femme disciplinarian and he's her macho testosterone-loaded bad boy. "I know it won't be too long before he gives me another excuse to have him like this, his bottom rosy and tender from the impact of my slaps."
The above two examples are in the minority in terms of who's-on-top. Spanked features a majority of M/f (men spanking women) stories over F/m with a few F/f entries. Men don't spank men here, so the mix resembles male-oriented het porn, which always welcomes a little lesbian action.
Role play receives thoughtful treatment. In "Page by Page," Laura Bacchi imagines a situation in which bondage and whipping are perfectly acceptable, but hand spanking is taboo. Her professional female submissive has a limit forbidding any flesh-to-flesh contact, much as prostitutes refuse to kiss their clients on the lips. In "Daddy's Girl" Teresa Noelle Roberts deconstructs the Daddy fantasy as an impediment, rather than a means to fulfillment.
So if you crave to have or give a burning bottom along with all the hard, wet consequences; or you're just curious what all the fuss is about, get Spanked.