Sunday, March 24, 2013


WARNING: Not for anyone under 18.


SPECIAL NOTE: I received this installment of The Flesh Cartela  serial about sexual slavery, from Netgalley. I always do reviews honestly, not holding back on my likes and dislikes of a book, so you won't get a watered down review - at all, all my thoughts laid out bare. If you would like to discuss my views, whether it is to agree or disagree with me, you can leave comments attached to the review. Thank you, Marita.

So, here's what I think...

The Flesh Cartel #1 Review - 3.9 stars out of 5.
(Please note, as seen further down, I have given the 2nd installment a 4.9 star rating out of 5).

I thought this was a very, very, very... dark story, the topic alone telling me I was in for an eyeful. But, I still wasn't fully prepared, the story pretty much running a fine line between pulling a reader in or switching them off. I must admit at one point I was on the side of switching off, the scene where the woman ordered Mat to clean Dougie really disgusting me. But, I did the "blah, blah, blah" thing in my head, trying blank it out and to get past it, because I did promise to review the book. And thankfully, the "cleaning" scene was stopped by that nasty b of a woman kidnapper, because I really didn't want to read that. Hence, I did continue on, which wasn't JUST because I owed a review, it was also due to the writers knowing how to create main characters who are interesting and likable.

So here are the things I liked AND disliked about The Flesh Cartel #1.

I'll start off with the UPSIDE of the story:

Writing style: Very captivating, yes, that's an intended pun, but it's true. The two writers of this story obviously know how to draw readers in, and to even pull them through the very disturbing scenes, yet retain their interest. Why?

1) The characters of Dougie and Mat, two brothers, one a soft, sweet scholar (Dougie) who is studying for a PHD in psyche, the other (Mat) a rough and tough, gritty cage fighter trying to pay for his younger brother's education. The authors are smart here, definitely knowing their trade in erotic characters, because they have created two archetypes of attractive M/M characters: the weak and beautiful man and the hard and gritty man. But, although Dougie and Mat have stereotypical aspects about them, I don't think they are cardboard cut-outs, because their thoughts are portrayed very well, making you think of them as real people, thus making this story harder to stomach in the way the brothers are treated.

The authors have also made the brothers likable characters, because Mat is a noble man, concerned with looking after his younger brother, and helping him to the point where he is willing to get hurt badly, while Dougie, who is a lot softer, loves his brother considerably as well and does things to also help Mat. Dougie is also the type of person one wants to protect, as Mat tries to do. Hence, the reader will want to stay with them through their capture to make sure they're alright.

2) Another good aspect about the story is that it's fast moving, and doesn't have any slow areas. It's also very detailed, with no mistakes, the sentence structure pretty much near perfect, while the flow and character points of view spot on. We start of with Nikolai's point of view at a slave auction, so we have an idea of why the brothers are taken, then from there we get the brothers' viewpoints with their capture, then the seesaw of their shared experience and emotions, going between how each of them cope while being prepared for the auction.

Now, the DOWNSIDE of the story, which saw it get 3.9 stars.

1) The detail. Yes, the detail is very well portrayed, but sometimes it was "TOO MUCH." I like to go with the saying that "less is better" sometimes, which was definitely noticeable in pockets in this story. What I mean is that the authors could have allowed the readers to imagine what is going to happen at certain points, rather than detailing everything down to the last nose screwing up, eyes watering, mind wincing in disgust, details. The prime example is very much the "cleaning" scene. I really did not want to read that bit, and would much rather have been spared the gross details. In other bits of the story, there was also a bit of an overdose of non-consent, the kidnappers like rapid bulls with absolutely no control, while I'm sure some of the things done to the brothers would've seen them either dead or pretty much inert for a good amount of time, the healing of what happened to them not something that can be fixed up in a week. I know, I know, don't tell me that erotica is like this, that it doesn't have to be total realism, just I thought that a slightly less heavier hand would've been better. BUT, that is my perspective and I do have a preference for realism, because realism doesn't make me think of the technical aspects of a story, but totally pulls me in and allows me to get lost in a story.

BUT, regardless I have to be fair and take into account that this is erotica and not realism. So, because this is erotica, I will relate it to another book on the same topic: Captive in the Dark (although that is a M/F story). There are a lot of people who absolutely loved Captive in the Dark, and unfortunately I wasn't one of them. The reasons: it was a sickly sweet, romanticised depiction of the Slave Trade (not something I liked at all, because I don't think this topic should be romanticised). Captive in the Dark also had constant repetition of thoughts to the point it drove me up the wall. Although The Flesh Cartel was a thousand times more brutal, it was much better written, nothing repeated, the main characters much more interesting and better drawn. Yes, Caleb was interesting in Captive in the Dark, but Livvy was infuriating. She was the same archetype as Dougie, the weaker, beautiful person being taken advantage of. But she was repetitive and whiny, someone who I didn't like and didn't care about, just wanting to be rid of, whereas Dougie from The Flesh Cartel was the opposite, a totally likable character, who was being treated a hell of a lot more harsher and wasn't annoying like Livvy. He also didn't romanticise his kidnappers and didn't fall in lust and love with them. I know there's Stockholm syndrome, but to romanticise what Caleb was doing to Livy, nah ah, no way. Dougie wins hands down, Livy go jump in the lake and drown.

So, let me round up my thoughts. The start to The Flesh Cartel is well-written, but not for everyone, only the people who can handle a pretty brutal story-line, because all you romantic people out there will wet yourselves reading this, so it's not for you. Instead, hardcore readers: it's for you. People who like M/M stories which more grit than usual and people who can handle reading about brutal non-consent.

Flesh Cartel #2 Review - 4.9 stars out of 5.


I liked this installment better than the first, although it was equally harsh, just not as nauseating, again with that cleaning scene from #1! Here we have Dougie and Mat again being put through the ringer, their stay in the slave holding-cells wearing both of them down as they are constantly abused by the guards as well as fretting over what is happening to each other. Then one day they are taken to be prepared for the auction - primped and prettied up for Dougie, while roughed up for Mat, both of them being marketed in a different manner, one the prize of the auction, the other the thug thrown in to be sold with his brother, an after thought that wasn't meant to be brought along. But little does the auctioneer, the nasty Madame, know that Nikolai, one of her high-paying clients, is actually after the less marketable Mat, because he wants someone who isn't easy to break, someone who has fire and is willing to fight to the end.

Like I said in the review of the first installment, these stories are not for everyone, and you shouldn't go into them thinking you'll get a romanticised version of Captive in the Dark. But if you can handle it, and gloss over areas that you may find too difficult to read, it is much better writing, with a fast-paced story-line that is pretty dramatic and all encompassing.

I am now wanting to read the third installment, curious as to what Nikolai will do in his training process, as well as seeing how Mat deals with the situation, because he is such an explosive character.

Online sellers of this serial:

Barnes & Noble

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