The Flesh Cartel #3: Choices - Rachel Haimowitz, Heidi Belleau This review can be found at The Armchair Reader.

3.5 stars

Choices, the start of season two of The Flesh Cartel, starts off right where Auction left off. Mat and Dougie have been bought and are being moved to their new master. First, Dougie is stripped of almost all his senses, forced into sensory deprivation, he slowly starts to go mad, fearing he’ll lose his mind and they’ll break him. Mat is now the only one subjected to constant torture, abuse and rape while Mat and Dougie wait days before they can finally leave the Madame’s facility. Unfortunately for Mat, their new master, Nikolai, is almost as bad when he forces Mat to endure endless pain throughout his body brought on by drugs. Dougie is given a reprieve when Nikolai treats him like a precious toy. Treating each brother differently – Mat with pain and Dougie with care – he’s training them by giving them choices. But they must remember, choices come with consequences and it’s up to the brothers to decide what type of consequence they’ll receive.

One thing can be said about these authors, they sure know how to weave a captivating tale! Whereas the previous two stories were gruesome and intense, this story was not as bad. It still provided some moments of cruelty and abuse but most of the damage is told rather than shown and all of it through Mat’s perspective and only briefly. It seemed like most of the story is told from Nikolai’s POV and his reactions to the brothers. Whereas he must train Mat for his client, he wants Dougie, covets him it seems like. He’s under the impression when he’s done training the brothers, he’ll sell them and give them a life of contentment, something that they’ll be eager to embrace and take great pleasure in. The brothers obviously disagree but Nikolai is firm in his opinion.

Nikolai is actually a creepy person. He’s adamant he’s not a sadist or even enjoys the work he does, yet he does take great pleasure in seeing the brothers submit, especially Dougie. I find him worse than the Madame, which I didn’t realize was possible until Dougie and Mat arrived at Nikolai’s home, where Nikolai’s true colors are shown and the brothers must make their choices on how they’ll proceed. Mat fights as much as he can, as is his nature, but he’s not very successful. Dougie grows a bit of a spine but then realizes he’s in for pain and quickly reevaluates his situation.

One thing that sucks about this serial is that they literally pick up right where the last one left off. Unfortunately, because of the weeks/months in between each reading and the lack of a recap before the story starts, I was pretty much confused on what was happening in the beginning and why because I couldn’t really remember how it ended. There’s a brief mention of the auction but that didn’t help in reminding me or what exactly Dougie had done to Mat. It took a bit before I was able to recall at least the major pieces (I do have a horrible memory though lol). I won’t deny it’s still a captivating story. I was drawn into it and no matter how much I wanted to stop, I had this compulsion to keep reading. Unfortunately, that compulsion was quickly followed by disappointed when the story actually ended leaving me extremely dissatisfied. I didn’t feel like there was much progress with this segment as there possibly should have been. Considering how much weight episode one and two held, I was expecting something a bit more.

Overall, I liked the story. It’s an alluring read, well-written to the point I didn’t want to stop reading. However, with the way each story is ending, and with this one not feeling like it progressed much, I feel like I’m left with more questions and a slow sense of frustration. With that said, for those who are brave enough and have liked the first season, they’ll enjoy this one as well.