Title: The Flesh Cartel
Author Name: Rachel Haimowitz & Heidi Belleau
Publication Date & Length: Oct 1, 2012 — 58 pages
In this first installment of the exciting new psychosexual thriller, The Flesh Cartel, orphaned brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael are stolen in the night from their own home. Taken to a horrifying processing facility, they are assessed, microchipped, and subjected to unspeakable brutality—all in preparation for sale to the highest bidder.
In a world where every person has a price, the beautiful and subduable PhD student Dougie is highly prized. His brother, a rough-edged MMA fighter, is less desirable—and potentially too dangerous—but he still has his own appeal.
Abused and locked up under round-the-clock surveillance, with no idea where they are or even why they’ve been taken, escape seems impossible, which leaves staying together their only hope. And after being separated once by the foster system, they’ll do anything to keep it from happening again. Anything at all.
(Reader discretion advised. This title contains explicit male/male sexual situations of a non-consensual nature.)
I received an ARC of The Flesh Cartel Season One: Damnation from NetGalley for an honest review.
This series is very edgy, not your typical BDSM stories of slave, submissive, master, dom. Rather, these stories contain very violent scenes and do not offer a “touchy-feely” vibe. Do not purchase if you are bothered by M/M, incest among brothers or triggered by rape or violence.
You have two brothers, Mat and Dougie, who are kidnapped, raped, beaten and prepared to be sold into sexual enslavement. The first two novellas focus on the torture, degradation and psychological deconstruction of the psyche of both Mat and Dougie.
In #1: Capture, the reader learns that the brothers were split apart when they were taken in to social services custody and despite the years between the brothers, Mat stayed behind after he aged out of the system and waited for Dougie to age out, so they could stay together.
During the first part – I really thought the authors did a good job at describing how each brother felt about the other: fiercely loyal and protective. Mat’s feelings are descriptively more edgy – he shows his loyalty to Dougie by fighting and earning money to support his brother’s education. Dougie’s feelings are gentler – he wants to take care of his brother after earning a PhD. Dougie doesn’t want Mat to have to fight any more. Despite their different approaches, the authors do a good job at making their feelings known but also fit each brother’s individuality.
During the violent sections of the book, the authors do a great job at describing how utterly broken each brother was during the abduction and subsequent car ride to the facility. I felt like I could really feel the emotions each brother was experiencing.
In the end of the first part, the brothers know they are only going to survive if they can escape together but have no real concept as to where they are or why they have been taken.
In #2: Auction, the brothers realize what they have been abducted for – their purpose is to be sold to the highest bidder.
What follows is a story of human degradation, abuse and humanity at its worst. We see the slow devolvement of the psyche of Dougie and the systematic abuse of Mat.
The authors do a good job of describing the daily tortures these two must endure. Mat is still trying to protect Dougie by drawing the abuse onto him, while Dougie is trying to use his brain to think of a way to keep them together. There are fewer feelings in this novella – it is more descriptive of what each brother must endure. So while the reader is getting more of the puzzle that is this sexual slave trade, I felt the authors were simply describing the horrifying acts rather than developing more story. It’s not until the end you see what might be coming – when the auction actually takes place.
However, you still feel and see each brother will do whatever they can to continue to protect the other.
It was a decent start to a series; the writers show each brother will do whatever it takes to keep the other safe, no matter the personal cost – the bond between brothers allows them to continue on this horrific journey because they want to see the other survive. But, when Dougie makes a deal that involves Mat, can Mat trust his brother enough to accept that his younger brother really is looking out for their best interests? Both brothers are put to the test of ultimate trust, and the reader is left wondering if the brothers’ bond will survive.
These are a story that will suck you in, make you feel the pain of each brother and hate the facility and guards who are holding them captive. The authors do a fantastic job portraying the heartache each brother feels for each other, as well as the fear they both hold about what is going to happen next. Despite the short duration of the stories, the words are so full of grit and pain that the reader has no choice but to be captivated in the most gruesome, inhuman way. The story leaves you wondering what is in store for the brothers next from their new owner.
There were just a few grammatical errors, some formatting issues with the Kindle addition, but nothing that would blatantly distract from the story.
Rachel is an M/M erotic romance author and a freelance writer and editor. She’s also a sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, and quite proudly pervish. Fortunately, all those things make writing a lot more fun for her . . . if not so much for her characters.
When she’s not writing about hot guys getting it on (or just plain getting it; her characters rarely escape a story unscathed), she loves to read, hike, camp, sing, perform in community theater, and glue captions to cats. She also has a particular fondness for her very needy dog, her even needier cat, and shouting at kids to get off her lawn.
She’s a twitter addict (@rachelhaimowitz), and she blogs every M/W/F at Fantasy Unbound (Rachel-Haimowitz.blogspot.com). She also keeps a website, of course, with all her current and upcoming projects (RachelHaimowitz.com). She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write. She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centered on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with nonironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!) Her writing reflects everything she loves: diverse casts of characters, a sense of history and place, equal parts witty and filthy dialogue, the occasional mythological twist, and most of all, love–in all its weird and wonderful forms.
When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.
Add her on twitter: @HeidiBelleau
Twitter: @rachelhaimowitz / @HeidiBelleau
Author’s Website: rachelhaimowitz.com