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By Kitty Thomas

Kitty Thomas explores the psyche of Grace, a woman living in America unsatisfied with 24/7 relationships and looking for something more “real”. In her search for a more satisfying relationship, she comes across Lucas, a wealthy landowner on the island of Eleu. Lucas convinces her, through multiple emails and online chats, to move to the island. Believing Lucas to be the caring type of Master that she has been looking for, Grace relinquishes her independent identity and becomes his slave. Immediately after arriving on the island it becomes apparent that Lucas falsely represented himself in order to seduce Grace into coming. Lucas shows Grace the grandeur in which he lives and then proceeds to lock her in a dank cell in his dungeon. Believing Grace to be ‘broken’ Lucas finally tires of her and sells her to Asher, another wealthy landowner on the island. Asher is haunted by a dark mysterious past surrounding the death of his former slave. They slowly build the trust of a true master/slave relationship, but they both have serious baggage that affects the depth of their connection. Grace barely held onto her identity as a human, her name and her right for anything, under Lucas’s tutelage. With pleasure, Asher slowly coaxes back her humanity and patiently builds the type of relationship that they both crave. Through a careful nurturing of mutual trust between them, they begin to love each other and eventually Asher asks that Grace wear his brand – a symbol that would tie them together forever. She consents with an intense desire for the ownership the mark gives her; her fear for the process tempered by her desire to be completely his.

Tender Mercies is a well-written erotic novel that falls into the Master/Slave and BDSM category. The author covers a wide variety of sexual encounters between the slave Grace and her owners on the island ‘Eleu’ where slavery has been made legal. Upon arrival at the island, Grace has to relinquish all citizenship and identification papers. This essentially strips Grace of her rights and identity and turns her into the property of her first master and owner. She becomes a possession to be bought and sold at his whim. It is beyond a master/slave 24/7 relationship and into the realm of ownership and real human slavery. The writing delves into the psychology of someone who would crave this type of emotional and sexual relationship and this book helps the reader experience some of the psychology behind BDSM. As a reader, no matter your opinions on relationships, whether you desire an equal partnership or domination, you find yourself wanting what Grace wants and are elated when she gets it.

This book falls strongly into the BDSM category and quite explicitly details the kitten play fetish preferred by the characters. This reader found the prevalence of  intense sadomasochism in the first part of the book to be off-putting but overall the eloquent writing made it still a worthwhile erotica read. Once Grace shifts owners and finds herself under the care of Asher, the detailed sex scenes become much more erotic. The kind yet insistent way that Asher has Grace please him and the eager way that Grace responds gave this reader the best insight into this type of master/slave relationship than any other erotica novel to date. With an emphasis on building trust and love, Asher coaxes the life back into Grace and gives her the stability she has been craving. By completely stripping her of her power of decision, Grace is able to fully  let go in the safe environment that Asher has built for her and finally experience the true ecstasy she has been craving.