Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Pages: 119
Date: 04/12/2013
Grade: 4
Details: Contains the first two episodes
               Capture & Auction
               Received from Riptide Publishing
               Through NetGalley

The blurb:

The Flesh Cartel: an international, multi-billion-dollar black market that trades in lost souls. Or more specifically, their bodies.

Highly organized and frighteningly efficient, the Flesh Cartel could teach even the KGB a thing or two about breaking a human mind. Fortunately for their ultra-rich clients, they’re just as skilled at putting people back together again—as perfect pets, well-trained and eager to please.

No matter what your secret tastes or dark desires, the Flesh Cartel—for the right price, of course—will hand-design the plaything of your dreams.


1. Capture

The blurb:

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.


O my God, I don’t even know where to begin. This story is violent, harsh, cruel, sexually explicit in the most disturbing way and totally engrossing.

The reader is briefly introduced to Dougie and Mat, two brothers with nobody else in the world besides each other. Dougie, 23 is a PhD student, sensitive and protected from the harsh realities in the world by his older brother Mat, who tries to support himself and his brother as an MMA fighter.

Just when the reader starts to think how nice it is that both brothers are trying protect each other from certain aspects of their lives, intruders break into their house while Dougie is in the shower and Mat away. Their planned rape and abduction of Dougie is interrupted but not prevented by Mat’s arrival and before the brothers know what is happening to them they’ve been ferreted away to an unknown location.

With Dougie always having been the only intended target, Mat has to swallow all of his anger and pride in order not to get himself killed. The only chance he has of saving Dougie is staying with him. The only way to stay with Dougie is for Mat to subject himself to humiliation and captivity.

While Dougie and Mat have no idea why they have been taken, what the purpose of their medical evaluation, micro-chipping and being filmed is, the reader does; these young men have fallen victim to a secret organization of human traffickers and are destined to become sexual slaves.

This book is objectionable on so many fronts that it is hard to know where to begin. First and foremost though I think I should mention that none of the sexual acts described in this first part of the story are consensual or tender or beautiful. What we are reading is rape; described in horrifying detail. In fact, there were several times during the 60 or so pages in this book that I felt I couldn’t read on. But the plight Mat and Dougie find themselves in and their loyalty to each other kept me reading and will have me reading on.

2. Auction

The blurb:

In episode two of The Flesh Cartel, the dark purpose behind Mat and Dougie Carmichael’s abduction is revealed. Though Dougie is protected from the worst of the guards’ brutality, he’s disgusted to find himself halfway to broken—despairing of escape and terrified of pain. Mat holds onto hope despite repeated violations and beatings, but threats toward his brother teach him well to lay aside his pride and pick his battles carefully.

Worn down by days of unrelenting fear and abuse, Mat and Dougie are packaged and marketed with the same ruthless efficiency as any consumer product: Dougie the prettyboy twink, Mat the rabid pit bull. They are led to the auction block as the showpiece of the house’s collection.

Mat would rather be beaten to death than play the role of obedient slave for sale, but Dougie, desperate not to be separated from his brother, strikes a deal with the pitiless Madame who runs the auction house and controls both their fates. It might just be enough to keep them together—slaves, but together—assuming Mat even wants to be after Dougie fulfills his end of his deal with the devil.


If I thought the first part of this story, ‘Capture’, was hard to read, this one was even harder. Kept in captivity and separated the two brothers still have no idea where they are, or why, or what is going to be happening to them.

The only thing they know is that they are nothing; stripped of their names, addressed as ‘holes’ those holding seem determined to strip Mat and Dougie of their humanity. And while Dougie somewhat protected by his capturer’s wish to keep him clean and unblemished, they have no such qualms about Mat who discovers that being used as a punch bag is the least of his troubles.

When Dougie does as Madame demands he may ensure that he won’t be separated from his brother. It may also mean that his brother will never forgive him; that is if Dougie will ever be able to forgive himself.

I said it in the first part of this review, and I’ll say it again, this is NOT an easy story to read. In fact, the story is so heartbreaking, so sadistic and so cruel that I my immediate reaction when I finished this second installment was that I couldn’t possibly read on. Now that a little bit of time has passed I’m not so sure. This story is very compelling and well written.

I may just read a few more episodes, just to find out if a bit more humanity enters this otherwise horrific story. I have gotten attached to Mat and Dougie and am curious if they’ll manage to keep the love and loyalty between them as strong as it is, despite their enemies’ best efforts to separate them.

It is not often that a book leaves me this conflicted. Part of me wants to condemn it out of hand because of the cruelty on the pages, while another part of me is in awe that these authors managed to draw me in to this extent despite everything that is so very objectionable about this story. I think I’ll sleep on it for a while and see how I feel in a few days.

In the meantime, ‘The Flesh Cartel’ comes with a strong worded warning; this is not a romance or a love story. The scenes in this book are harsh, cruel and graphic. An awful lot of readers will find this book hateful and disgusting. However, if you like your stories pitch black and are not afraid of being shocked beyond your imagination, this may well be the book for you.

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