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! :)