The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture - Rachel Haimowitz, Heidi Belleau This review can be found at The Armchair Reader.

This book tells the tale of Mat, an MMA fighter, trying to support him and his brother and Dougie, an inspiring Ph. D student, being taken in the middle of the night and required to withstand numerous brutal and horrifying actions to stay alive. They’re taken by multiple men, raped, abused and then forced to cooperate in being processed to become slaves. Mat is dangerous but Dougie is his weakness and his kidnappers know it. If he doesn’t cooperate, Dougie’s dead but Dougie’s too scared to do anything but endure their torture. This is the story of two brothers taken and forced into a new brutal world with no answers as to why they were targeted.

This was a great book. It’s powerful, intense and well written. It’s wonderfully brutal and captivating. I was sucked into the story from the beginning and fascinated with the play of events. It’s a great start to a new serial that’s sure to keep me on the edge of my seat. We get almost immediately thrown into violence, rape and kidnapping but we also get to know Mat and Dougie a bit, too. I winced a few times over what was happening and my heart clenched at what these boys went through.

Some of their abuse is told instead of shown so it’s not as brutal it could have been but then some of it is told in excruciating detail that lets you know just how much pain these boys are in. They’re treated like dogs, microchipped, chained and, in Mat’s case, caged. They’re forced to perform sexually, humiliated into orgasms, inserted with all types of objects and tested how much they want to live by requiring Mat to rim Dougie to stay alive. It’s intense and dark but not as much as I was expecting. The fact that Mat is gay while Dougie is straight is heartbreaking because Dougie gets most of the abuse and assault. I felt horrible for these guys, it’s shocking what they go through but I couldn’t stop reading once I started.

My main problem, though, is that I had a ton of questions from the start that weren’t answered which is understandable considering it’s a serial but also kind of frustrating. Still, I was plagued with these questions! It kept bugging me why Dougie was targeted, why would they stalk him, put so much effort into learning about him and Mat’s schedule. It seems like a lot of work for just one guy when there are numerous street kids out there that seem easier to obtain. Beyond that, I felt like, at times, the blurb gave more information than the actual story did. I also had trouble with the POV changes. In my converted copy, there was no indication that it switched from Mat to Dougie, or vice versa, which got me confused and pulled me slightly out of the story several times because then I had to go back and reread a few passages.

This book gives a hint of the workings of an underground slave auction. I’m curious where it heads and I really can’t wait to see how it all plays out and what Nikolai (who’s only mentioned in the beginning) has to do with it. There’s also no romance but I’m curious if one will develop (oh man, I hope one develops!).

In the end, this was a wonderful start to a new serial. Definitely recommended to those brave enough to read or those looking for something dark and gritty to pass the time.