Tender Mercies

Rated 4.62/5 based on 13 reviews
Fed up with play kink, Grace Warner moves to an island that embraces erotic slavery to be with a man she met online. Within hours of her arrival, everything is ripped from her, and she quickly learns play is preferable to the realities of actual enslavement. More

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About Kitty Thomas

KITTY THOMAS writes dark sexy stories that play with power. She began publishing in early 2010 and is considered one of the original authors of the dark romance subgenre.

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Also by This Author


curmudgeon reviewed on on Aug. 22, 2013

A good story, although a bit idealistic.
(reviewed 85 days after purchase)
Cari Quinn reviewed on on June 5, 2011

I first became aware of Kitty Thomas's work with Comfort Food, a book I can honestly say I will never forget. While Kitty writes about subject matter that not everyone is comfortable with, she does so in a way that I find to be deft and almost lyrical. Though her current published stories are contemporary, she creates new worlds while drawing from very real elements of BDSM and total power exchange relationships. Tender Mercies is set on a fictional island called Eleu, but what struck me most about the book was how real the story seemed. I totally believed in the world she created and its rules. Lucas was a truly hateful character and the contrast between him and Asher could not have been more complete. And despite hoping for a good ending for Asher and Grace - who I think was a very strong character, whether or not a reader agrees with her choices - there were times I really didn't know if they would get there. Kitty's definitely a writer to watch and I'm already eager to read her next story.
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)
Pillow Talker reviewed on on June 2, 2011

Fantasies are the physical dreams of our subconscious, acted out in the safety of our minds for pleasure. Sometimes the fun extends into the bedroom and sometimes beyond, into our lifestyles, and the label ‘kinky’ is slapped across our name. Some kink is as simple as a little dirty talk or a slight hair tug, but some goes so far deep in the bone that nothing short of 24/7 play will assuage the unspoken inner voice. Kitty Thomas has a skill of writing this inner voice and pulling forth the lives of her characters from the reader’s own subconscious mind and in her third offering, "Tender Mercies", she does not disappoint.

"Tender Mercies" follows Grace Warner on her journey to fulfill her inner desire to be a 24/7 submissive. Her search for "something real" leads to a hard twist of fate and a harsh reality, both of which threaten to break her soul. She quickly finds herself at the mercy of a heartless man with no hope of escape. Ms. Thomas creates no illusions and means every word of her disclaimer; this human-slave tale is truly dark erotica as it is meant to be: unforgiving and real.

While "Tender Mercies" drags into the light the sadistic side of some men, it also pulls together the warmer side of life. At its core, "Tender Mercies" is a love story. Romantics at heart, like me, will fall in love with the book from the very beginning. Ms. Thomas opens with a prologue that brought tears to my eyes, and with each reading, the tears return. As the story unfolds, the grip of the words, the emotions of the characters, pulls harder and stronger against heart strings until the reader is completely enmeshed. Readers will learn along with Grace that being owned completely is not like a fantasy, not every man is what he appears, and desires should be fulfilled with care. I was enthralled and could not put my Kindle down; this is every bit the page-turning addictive story that I have come to expect from Ms. Thomas and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting reality from their fiction.
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)
Among The Muses reviewed on on June 2, 2011

Just when I think an author can't possibly top their last published work, I'm left corrected. Kitty Thomas hooked me with her very first book I picked up: Comfort Food, left my jaw hanging open in fabulous astonishment in a second: Guilty Pleasures, and now leaves me silently awed in the brilliance of her talent with Tender Mercies!

Before I go any further, I must state that Kitty Thomas' work is not for everyone -- and that's okay. Not only does Kitty take readers to the precipice of comfort in dark erotic romance content, she also makes her readers *think* as she traverses the psyche of her characters -- she's a master of creating highly dynamic three-dimensional characters battling personal and societal issues in a BDSM context. And in her newest release, Tender Mercies, she continues her trend of masterfully weaving heart tugging emotions between purposefully and carefully crafted plot, characters, and setting.

Tender Mercies is a love story -- albeit unconventional or typical in most erotic fiction -- that demonstrates actual slavery (given willingly to a fault) and contains non-consensual sex. This is about needs and desires of people living in a 24/7 Master/slave relationship. It is also a story about the differences between a *true* master and one who is not, and the fallout of what can take place with a misjudged decision. But that's not to say that there isn't moments of passionate and tender love and lovin' -- both Kitty does just as well! :)

Grace Warner; a beautiful name that will soon be discarded and forgotten. Grace is the kind of woman who *needs* to live in a 24/7 slave relationship, but views many of the ones erected around her as 'not real'. After a year of contemplating the pros and cons of given up her personal and governmental rights to a master she met online, Grace sets off for a highly private and secretive island where she will truly be a slave to Master Lucas in every sense of the word. But, hidden behind the lens of a webcam and keyboard for the year of propositioning, Grace finds immediately upon her arrival to the island that Master has deceived her of who he truly is. Subjected to brutally abusive and horrific confines and situations that destroy her will, her physical body, and her mentality, Grace (her name that is no longer able to be used or thought of) becomes a scarred shell of what she used to be.

Not too far from where Grace lives hidden away in her Master's dungeon, another master, Asher Collins, is battling his own personal hell from the death of his slave whom he really cared for. At a showing, Asher looks upon Grace with a feeling of desire to make her his. He notices her abuse and is appalled. Hoping to save Grace and atone for his previous mistakes with his last slave, he purchases Grace for his own. But will either of them be able to break free from the psychological pain of their pasts? And what happens if they should? Surely others won't want to see them happy will they??

From beginning to end, readers can not help but be sucked into this story and become emotionally vested in the characters. The antagonist is a true antagonist and the protagonists are nothing short of fantastic! Readers get to see into the minds and inner workings of both Grace and Asher as they learn to work together to move past their previous pains and emotional turmoil and become a the ideal Master/slave couple. I loved Grace and Asher both. Grace is stronger than she even perceives her self. And Asher ... hmmm.. you can't help but fall for the broken Master. Readers are privy to just how much the two of them need each other to heal and move forward. Kitty does a fabulous job at demonstrating the emotions that develop between the firm, yet patient and loving master in Asher and the strong and devoted slave in Grace.

Like I have previously mentioned, Kitty Thomas knows how to take readers right to the precipice of their comfort levels, yet allows them to stay vested in a story that embarks on emotional journeys of characters that have unique needs and desires. But, unless you are up for everything I've described above, this story may not be for you. For those of you who are, this is a high recommendation from me.

Tender Mercies is the type of psychological dark erotica, BDSM book that will leave readers who enjoy this type of literary fiction in awe at the brilliance of Kitty Thomas' writing and concepts. I said it after her last book and I'll say it again -- I don't know how she'll top this! :)
(reviewed 18 days after purchase)
Patti (Book Addict) reviewed on on May 30, 2011

Grace Warner wants to be an erotic slave. So much so that she's been considering moving to a private island where it's legal...and binding. She's been communicating with Lucas Stone, a resident of the island nation Eleu, for almost a year. He wants her to come out and be his slave, but she's just not sure she's willing to give up her citizenship and become his legal property. After they have an argument and quit communicating, she realizes it is what she wants and agrees to go to him.

What happens once she gets to the island is not at all what she'd envisioned - he's a vicious and sadistic master. Eight months into it, she barely recognizes her beaten, bloodied appearance or even her own name. Then, when she thinks things can't get worse, he sells her to Asher Collins, a man reputed to have killed his last slave.

What Grace doesn't know is that Asher didn't kill his slave, but feels responsible for her death anyway. His guilt has prevented him from purchasing another slave,until he sees how Lucas has been treating Grace. He sees in Grace a chance to atone for his mistakes and save a life where previously he did not. But has Grace been tortured beyond repair? Can she unlearn the lessons taught by such a sadistic master as Lucas was? And is Asher a strong enough master to save her?

Kitty Thomas writes darkly erotic novels that are not easily forgotten; Tender Mercies is no exception. Her psychologically disturbing yet erotic stories take the reader on a journey of submission and trust as a way to fulfillment. Comfort Food, Guilty Pleasures, and Tender Mercies all explore the slave/master dynamic, but she manages to make the story different and intriguing each time. Her stories are well-crafted and even though the scenarios are fantastical in a kinky, masochistic sense, I don't have any trouble falling right into her stories and becoming fully vested in the characters and their experiences. I am slightly disturbed by how much I enjoy her books; as if something this dark should not be enjoyed, but I do. Very much.

Note: This book contains non-consentual sex scenes, so if you have difficulty reading those types of scenes, this may not be the book for you.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)
BookAddict reviewed on on May 30, 2011

Want to be a submissive 24/7? How about being a slave, pampered on an island careered to men of wealth who own women as slaves? This isn't the first book I've read with this concept. This is probably the first one where it's so realistically done in a plausible contemporary setting.

Grace is a girl who enjoys being owned. She wanted the reality of slavery. Personally, I think Grace is an idiot. Her only friend, Lainey, tried her best to help Grace go in with her eyes wide up. What does Grace do? She goes in with her eyes wide shut.

Now you may think I'm being harsh, but really, people need to take responsibility of their actions. Grace chose to feel guilt and blame herself when Lucas turned out to be a nightmare. That is one way to deal with it. Did I feel badly that Grace was tortured? No. I felt bad that she suffered at a cruel and sadistic bastard. Did I feel outrage? Not exactly. Grace is one of those people I believe benefit from learning things the hard way. Boy did she have a hard eight month lesson. I think she's better for it.

Asher - I've loved this name since I first saw it in an Anita Blake book. Asher is our anti-hero. He's quite the deviant yet lovely dom. I'm glad he was able to resolve the issues of his past and move on. He's amazingly good for Grace and I'm glad they have met.

This story was intense in some ways. It wasn't as intense for me as Comfort Food, but it was still quite well done. I know I'm reading Ms. Thomas's books out of order. I really should read Guilty Pleasure first. I still have that one on my list to read. I recommend this book for anyone who's contemplated a 24/7 D/s lifestyle. This was a nice balance of the possibilities in BDSM lifestyle. There is good and there is bad. Another winner from the talented Ms. Thomas.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Larissa's Bookish Life reviewed on on May 19, 2011

Previously Published on my blog: Welcome to Larissa's Bookish Life

After the mind f*ck that Comfort Food was, I could not wait to check out what else Kitty Thomas had in store and when she requested the review of her newest novel, Tender Mercies, I jumped at the chance to read it.

I am glad to say that Kitty not only doesn’t disappoint with Tender Mercies, but dare I say it, that she delivers a n even better book than the first time around.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Secretary, which is a very unusual love story that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone out there, though the people that I have recommend it to, loved it. Tender Mercies is at its core a love story, not a conventional love story in any stretch of the word, but definitely one nonetheless.

Grace is a has always craved a full-on DOM-sub relationship for years, not only the occasional play in clubs and in the bedroom, but something permanent. So, when she finds out about an island that is a “country” all on its own, where men completely own women as slaves, she decides that that’s the life she wants.

However, the DOM she has chosen is an absolute monster and her life becomes hell in a place where she has no rights at all. When she is sold to Asher after being told that he has killed his last slave, Grace is sure her life is over, but she ends up finding the relationship she always wanted instead. That is until Asher’s past comes knocking and turns her world upside down once again.

One time might be a fluke, but with Tender Mercies Kitty Thomas proves to be an original and talented voice in the literary world. Writing beautiful and unconventional tales of love and acceptance, has brought to forth a new sub genre, Dark Literary Erotica, telling love and sexy stories with a unparalleled finesse.

I cannot wait to see what she will produce next. If you think you enjoy this kind of novel or if you are open for something out of the box, I definitely recommend Tender Mercies. You won’t regret it!
(reviewed 11 days after purchase)
AsianCocoa reviewed on on May 16, 2011

This is Kitty Thomas’ third novel and probably the most emotional. I cried, worried, felt anger and disgust, worried some more, felt despair then hopefulness and finally I was awestruck at this author’s ingenious story-telling ability.

This is a story which depicts scenes of abuse, slavery, and dubious consent. The prologue is a tear-jerker. If you make it past the disclaimer, sit back & buckle up. You’re about to take a plane ride to Eleu, also known as the Island of Kink.

Grace Warner is a submissive who is bored with safe, sane and consensual play kink. She wants to be truly owned by a man. Ever since her best friend off-handedly mentions Eleu, Grace has been obsessed with thoughts of moving there. Eleu is an island where there are no human rights for the slaves. Once you enter the island you give up your citizenship and all your rights. That’s it. Once you agree to move there you become your master’s property in every sense of the word.

I was so worried for Grace as she was contemplating her decision to move the Island of Kink. Her best friend, Lainey tries to no avail to convince Grace to find a Master in the real world. But after a year-long “courtship” with Lucas Stone, Grace is convinced that moving is the only way she can be happy. But how sure can you be about someone you’ve only known through chat and web-cam?

Fast-forward 8months into Grace’s life on Eleu. I was horrified and disgusted by Grace’s living situation. She was kept nude and chained in Lucas’ dungeon under the most heinous conditions. She had been brutalized both physically and sexually in the vilest ways possible. I felt angry at Lucas’ relentless assaults to strip Grace of her soul.

“Tell me you’re mine, you worthless slut.”
Tears pricked at the corners of her eyes.
“This slut is yours, Master.”
Only because it’s what he wants to hear.
She had to hold onto that thought and repeat it in her mind so she wouldn’t forget. Her body may have submitted to him, but she hadn’t yet lost her mind. ~ Lucas & Grace

Asher Collins lost his slave Darcy during an unfortunate night of punishment. He has mourned her for a year but his need to own another woman has re-emerged and he soon seeks to buy another slave. He sees Grace at a showing and immediately feels a sense of compassion and lust towards her. He seeks atonement for Darcy’s death and feels that he can redeem himself by bringing Grace back to life.

I became hopeful for Grace after Asher brought her home and patiently helps her overcome her nightmares and fears. He was the perfect hero and quite a merciful master. There was nothing that Asher would not do to keep her safe. He would kill for her.

“Grace, listen to me. I know you’re scared. You don’t have to feel any particular thing about any of this. So stop fighting with yourself. All of this is out of your control. I am taking what’s mine, but you can keep your heart. For now. You don’t have to give me everything, just your body. When your body trusts me, your mind will follow. Now open.” ~ Asher

Yes, Tender Mercies is erotica and there are slavery, rape, and disturbing themes but it’s also a compelling story about a woman’s psychological survival and the man who gets her through it and finds atonement along the way. Although Grace toiled in the depths of hell with the devil, she managed to survive it when her angel of mercy swooped down to rescue her.

I am in awe of Kitty Thomas’ storytelling abilities. I was deeply caught up in the psychological conditioning in her novel Comfort Food and was titillated by the training in Guilty Pleasures. But the plot twists and multi-layered characters in Tender Mercies have made this book another one of my favorites.

This novel absolutely gets 5 out of 5 stars
(reviewed 9 days after purchase)
Jemima Valentino reviewed on on May 16, 2011

I didn't think anything could top Kitty Thomas's Comfort Food, but boy was I wrong. The minute I had Tender Mercies downloaded to my Kindle, I itched to read it. Had it not been for the fact I was deep in addiction with my last read, I could have easily ditched it like I have so many others in favour of what is fast becoming an obsession with Thomas's writing style and her darkly psychological / emotional take on the world of BDSM.

When the story begins, Grace believes she is leaving the outside world for chance at happiness and freedom within her slavery to Lucas Stone, her online Master of twelve months who has promised her the life she has always dreamed of. Rich, handsome and persuasive, Grace agrees to jet off to a mystery island to live as Lucas's 24/7 slave, in a land where no laws protect the slaves that voluntarily enter it (with the exception of the fact that one must not kill their slave). She is soon thrown into the living hell of Stone's sadistic nature and is abused and tortured within an inch of her life.

When Stone grows bored and tired of the realisation that he will never own her soul, he sells her to what he believes to be the Island's most dangerous dominant. Asher Collins. After all, hadn't Asher's last slave disappeared a year ago and rumour has it that she died at her Master's hand.

From the point we see Grace in Asher's care, Grace's life flips from the cruelty of Stone's abuse to the lifestyle that she can but only try to convince herself is not some dream that will be shattered at any second. Asher is a kind, loving yet forceful Master, who knows what he wants and how to get it from his newly aquired property. In Asher, Kitty Thomas has created a near-perfect dominant.

At this point I have to stop, for fear of detailing too many spoilers that will simply ruin the book for those that have not read it yet. Needless to say Lucas Stone may as well be the devil incarnate for me and had he been dog with such an aggressive nature, he would have been put of his (and everyone else's) misery before the book even started. His character is so well written that I found my blood at boiling point on several occassions throughout this book.

Insightful, powerful, erotic and downright brilliant are the only words that spring to mind over Thomas's latest masterpiece. It is a story that will continue to live with me for a long time to come.
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)
Ailin Chia reviewed on on May 14, 2011

I must say that this is actually one of the best BDSM themed novels I've had the fortune of reading. It was just beautiful to see the way Asher and Grace healed from their past trauma thanks to the presence of each other, and it was truly heart-warming to see the growth of a real BDSM relationship. I thought Grace's thoughts were beautifully described as well. She seemed so real, that what happened to her was truly heartbreaking to read through, as well as triumphant. It was also particularly educational because it touched in the difference between an abusive relationship as well as a proper BDSM relationship as well as the dangers of hooking up over the Internet. I really learnt a lot about BDSM thanks to this book, and I'd definitely recommend this book to BDSM novices.

And I must say, this was very well edited as well. There were absolutely no typo errors!

At the same time, there still could be some slight improvements. For starters, Lucas could stand to be more believable. It would have been interesting to see how he ended up so twisted. Plus, the healing process could be a little slower as well, with more details given over how both Grace and Asher developed. I guess the novel could be longer too, if more details were given.

I truly enjoyed the book though. Sure, there could be some improvement, but the original is already almost perfect, and I would love to read more of this author's work.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)
sparkly bearsy reviewed on on May 14, 2011

For an entire year, Lucas groomed Grace long distance into becoming his slave on an exclusive island where Master is ruler over all and slaves have little to no rights. Smart, funny charming he seems to be everything Grace wants from the kink lifestyle but soon lives to regret her decision. Tender Mercies by Kitty Thomas picks up Eight month after Grace arrived on the Island and she's in a living nightmare. Lucas is the Master from Hell putting Grace through the most unimaginable torture, sick twisted things all trying to break her spirit so he can own her completely.

Several times this book was turned on its head with its plot twists, just when you think it's going one way Kitty Thomas takes a 180 and blows your mind. Lucas was a character i hated. I hated him with a fiery vengeance, he's the kind of character you would happily see burn in Hell and not feel regret over it. He was truly evil with the things he did to Grace, and thankfully we didn't get in depth details because just the hint of things was enough. I'd wondered how the story would go if he was the hero, and then Asher appeared.

Asher the antithesis to Lucas and suddenly this story had the kind of Master Slave relationship i'd been waiting for. We see Asher at the beginning of the book when an 'Omg' moment happens, something i had not expected (the first of Kitty Thomas' 180 moves!) he's living with what happened, when he sees the rough treatment Grace is having to endure, wants her instantly. Buys her from Lucas.

And that's when the story finally has some heat to it. He's not a soft Master, but as he tells Grace he will never harm her. He punishes, he makes the frightened broken Grace whole again and it was beautiful to read. It was almost like reading a romance with extreme BDSM tossed into the mix. Asher was just lovely and when another twist is thrown in he made me swoon with what he did for Grace.

I can't ever praise Kitty Thomas enough for the books she writes, she isn't afraid to "go there" i love that she blows my mind with her subject matter, she twists the sexy with erotic and makes you question morals beliefs of what is consensual and non consensual. While this is yet another of her books that wont be for everyone, if you reach for the smelling salts easily then it's probably not something you'll want to read.

I for one will read Tender Mercies again, the story is strong, characters you will love or hate equally, enough erotic content to keep even the kinkiest of bitches happy and a.. dare i say it...romance to satisfy you with the swoon.

Did i mention i love Asher? i do!

Favourite Quotes:
“Sweet, little Grace. I like slaves who are careful, who agonize over the decision. You’re the one I had to fight hardest to acquire. I found several potentials to replace my last slave, but they were all too stupid. After a week they were ready to come here. But you . . . you were different. You were a prize worth owning.” - Lucas

“I take care of what’s mine.” - Asher

A wonderful read. I give Tender Mercies by Kitty Thomas 4 out of 5!
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)
Bex reviewed on on May 11, 2011

As soon as I got this book downloaded on my Kindle, I had to pick it up right away. It didn't matter that I was already busy with another book--I had been looking forward to it for too long not to read it straight away! Even though it was school the day after, I ended up reading non-stop until 4am! That's how long it took for me to even realise that the time hadn't stopped while this book had me hooked on every word!

I haven't been disappointed in any of Thomas' novels so far. I love her way of writing! Not only is it well-written, but the psychology really has your head spinning with the same thoughts and feelings that the characters have. I'm so drawn into these stories that it's almost impossible to let them go, even after I've finished them. And even then it's hard without getting to rave about them for a while! I'm very glad I actually managed to find a real life friend who loved Thomas' books just as much as I do.

Like I've said earlier, this book is extremely psychological and focuses on real S/M relationships and the bonds needed to make these relationships work. Thomas' takes it to the extreme and explore real captivity, trust and traumas. Tender Mercies even takes place on a secret island where a real secret S/M society is set up. No laws are there to keep the relationships to work, but neither are there any laws to fall back on when you sign your rights away.

Compared to her other books, in TM our heroine seeks this lifestyle herself without being thrown into it, and ends up in a horror scenario. What this manages to show really well, is the contrast between a real S/M relationship and this horror one. I really liked how the trust and bond between the slave and master become so much more noticeable; the masters are not just bosses over these women, they are also protectors. The relationship isn't one-sided, it goes both ways--just like all other relationships do in order to work.

This book is brilliant; mixing the wonders of how psychologically frustrating it can be to combine the body's wishes with the minds. I loved how you could notice the bonding progress and I love how Thomas' takes this fetish and go as deep as she does. It's twisting and turning and you are lost in inner struggles as well as outer ones. We get to see how it is to give it all up to someone else, which I'm sure would be extremely hard in our society with the rights we grow up with being taught we will always have. This is nothing playful, this is the real deal. Yet, when the struggles with the mind are fading, it's when our heroine can be truly happy and free.

I love Thomas' novels and I'm sure I won't stop. I loved Grace and Asher's story and would gladly have gotten to know more about their future! It warms my heart to see them finally getting what they've been looking for. Now I'll instead be (im)patiently waiting for more amazing stories, that I desperately hope will come! She is the best Erotica author I've read so far, without a doubt. I would take a careful look at the disclaimer while considering it though, since it's definitely not for everyone. However, those itis for will have a truly twisting journey to follow!
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)
Danielle Binks reviewed on on May 10, 2011

Grace Warner has tried to live kink. She has been to clubs and given herself over to BDSM and her perverse fascinations with the lifestyle. But it's not enough; it's too much like `tie-me-up-tie-me-down' play. And then Grace meets Lucas Stone online, and starts chatting to him about the island of Eleu.

Populated by the rich and reclusive, Eleu is Private Island inhabited by natives and extreme BDSM participants. There are no embassies on Eleu, and citizenship is revoked the moment you step onto the island - effectively turning a person into a refugee. The little island is made up of large mansions and plantations, owned by rich `Masters' who seek willing masochists to be their slaves and live with them on the island.

This is what Grace wants and needs. To give herself fully to Lucas and live with him on Eleu . . . she needs to give herself over to the fantasy, completely and totally.

But eight months later and Grace is a broken, bleeding shell of her former self. Lucas is no Master; he is a tyrant intent on pushing Grace until she is beyond repair . . . but before all hope is lost, Grace is sold to a fellow Eleu resident - Asher Collins.

There are rumours about what happened to Asher's last slave girl . . . rumours that set Grace's frayed nerves on edge and have her believing she will die in Asher's dungeons.

But it is in Asher that Grace finds a true Master. Someone to banish Lucas's nightmares and show her the difference between hurt and harm . . .

`Tender Mercies' is the new darkly erotic literary novel from Kitty Thomas, due for release on May 15th.

I discovered Kitty Thomas last year with her novel `Comfort Food'. I likened that erotica novel (about extreme Stockholm syndrome) to literary wasabi - sinus clearing and somewhat unsettling, but also incredibly, breathtakingly powerful. So I went into `Tender Mercies' excitedly knowing that Kitty Thomas writes at the extreme-end of the erotica scale. She intrudes upon reader's comfort zones and pulls you (kicking and screaming) into an abrasive and compelling world of fetishism and erotica . . .

`Tender Mercies' is actually a very nice complement and follow-up to Thomas's `Comfort Food'. Both novels explore captivity, trust, BDSM and the extremities of that lifestyle. `Comfort Food' was all about a woman accidentally finding love in the most unconventional and disturbing of ways, `Tender Mercies' acts as the complete flipside to that story. Grace Warner is actively seeking an extreme BDSM lifestyle - and she believes she has found her perfect new life on the island of Eleu, which is a refuge for Masters and their slaves. But while Grace signed up for a secluded life of masochism, she was utterly unprepared for the horrors that lay in Lucas Stone's dungeons . . . she is beaten, humiliated and subjected to perverse forms of torture (seriously, I'm talking `American Psycho' levels of disturbing). Lucas Stone is no Master - he is the devil incarnate.

It is only when Lucas sells Grace to the island's resident `killer', Asher Collins, that she starts to learn the true BDSM lifestyle . . . for Asher is a kind and intuitive Master. He is still reeling from the accidental death of his last slave (and lover), and is determined to treat Grace with the utmost care while also introducing her to the wicked carnality of the Master/Slave relationship.

Together, Grace and Asher learn to trust and love again. Grace comes to accept her fetishes and explore them in the safe and trusting relationship that Asher establishes. Meanwhile, Asher begins to let go of his guilt and rebuild his life, with Grace kneeling by his side.

I loved the romance between Grace and Asher. It's partly `white knight syndrome' - that Asher rides in to save Grace from the devilish clutches of Lucas Stone. But it's also the fact that Asher has his own disturbing problems with guilt and forgiveness. He was a very tender and enticing Master, but underneath his firm hand lay a broken heart. His rebuilding of Grace's confidence and love is dramatic and romantic and made for such a compelling storyline.

Dare I say . . . Kitty Thomas is fast becoming the erotica novelist du jour. Her books of extremism, BDSM and fetishism are the very best examples of the erotica genre - as she writes smartly sexy books that explore the darkest facets of sexual gratification and perversion while also weaving a marvellously compelling storyline with intense romance.

`Tender Mercies' is more bitter brilliance from Kitty Thomas. Yes, there are some very disturbing aspects to the novel - not least of which is an island dedicated to promoting a Master/Slave society where only the death of a slave warrants punishment . . . but Kitty Thomas is, above all else, a literary erotica novelist. In `Tender Mercies' she is exploring the `perversions' of kink and the traumas of captivity, followed by the struggles of post-traumatic stress. I feel it's important to stress that Kitty Thomas doesn't write `smut' - her novels are above all that. She instead writes insanely powerful sex scenes that flip between being sensuous and serious, delicious and disturbing. Her sex scenes make you think, as they lead into the subliminal storyline of trust and captivity, of surrendering yourself to another human being and opening yourself to pain in return.

Kitty Thomas is one of the most audaciously brilliant erotica novelists I have ever read. Her second novel, `Tender Mercies', is another example of her brilliance as she weaves a twisted tale of punishment and betrayal, redemption and understanding - all against the kinky backdrop of a BDSM island wonderland.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
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