The Flesh Cartel #11: Permanent Record by Rachel Haimowitz & Heidi Belleau ~ Review by Christine

Tides shift as Nikolai prepares the boys for sale, and we see a stronger force at work than just Nikolai’s control.

Flesh Cartel 11Title:The Flesh Cartel #11:  Permanent Record

Author: Rachel Haimowitz & Heidi Belleau

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the Publisher:

Mat and Douglas’s time as Nikolai’s wards is finally drawing to a close. Though torn apart by Nikolai’s machinations, their fates are still inextricably entwined: they’ve been sold to the same cruel master, and are united in their desire to go home. But “home” means two different things to the brothers: for Mat, their little bungalow in Nevada, and for Douglas, a swift return to Nikolai and Roger, the only people he believes still love him.
But first they must survive their new master. Smythe Hall is a twisted island paradise where Americans affect British accents and slaveboys dress up as slave girls, all at the whims of the rich and megalomaniacal Allen Smythe-Kennedy.

Meanwhile, FBI Special Agent Nate Johnson can’t let the case of the missing brothers lie. He knows it’s a waste of resources to chase ghosts down a cold trail, but after admiring Mathias “Stonewall” Carmichael ringside and at countless afterparties where he was too shy to say hello, he’s determined to solve the mystery and bring Mat and his little brother home.

My View

After a horribly brutal and heartbreaking ending to the previous episode, Dougie is even more firmly entrenched in his loyalty to Nikolai.  The only bond stronger than this is Mat’s love for his brother, despite the part Dougie has played in Mat’s victimization and abuse. The time for the brothers to be sold to a new master is fast approaching, and one can only wonder about the new horrors that await them during what feels like the calm before the storm.

In this installment, we see more of Mat and the inner workings of his torment as he struggles with the pain of Dougie’s betrayal and his own guilt over his conflicted feelings for his brother.  I loved how the authors bring his devotion to his brother into the spotlight for a good portion of this episode, even as Mat deals with an increasing hatred for Dougie’s blind adoration of Nikolai and his resulting behavior.

We also see both Roger and Nikolai in a different light, as a tenderness and vulnerability towards the brothers becomes more apparent.  Though it is difficult to “like” Nikolai, it is clear that he cares for Dougie in his own warped, twisted way.  Additionally, the reader can’t help but think that Dougie would be much better off with his current master than with the relative unknown who awaits the brothers’ arrival.

The new addition to this story, FBI agent Nate Johnson, is a welcome and refreshing break from the brothers’ captivity.  He is a smart, tenacious character who has a deep admiration for Mat, and he brings fresh hope and a new perspective to the series.  I also like his partner, Louise, who brings him the dead-end case on the Charmichael brothers despite his personal, albeit one-sided, attachment to Mat.  As they work through the possibilities on the case, we see that perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel for Mat and Dougie after all.

Though this series is at times extremely difficult to handle, Permanent Record is relatively light compared to previous installments and brings a distinct change to the plot.  Dougie and Mat are on their way to a new owner, and a determined FBI agent is looking into their case.  I am anxious to read the next episode to see what is in store for our tortured boys.

Buy Links:

Riptide Publishing
Amazon

This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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