The Flesh Cartel #13: The House Always Wins by Rachel Haimowitz & Heidi Belleau ~ Review by Christine

Daring and intense, Mat and Dougie move forward and take their fate into their own hands in Episode 13.

Flesh Cartel 13Title: The Flesh Cartel #13:  The House Always Wins

Author: Rachel Haimowitz & Heidi Belleau

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

My Rating: 4.5 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.

Reader discretion advised.

My View

In The House Always Wins, both Mat and Dougie have fallen into positions perfectly suited for their training at Nikolai’s. Mat has basically become an animal, feral and merciless in his desperation to survive his captivity on Allen’s island, while Dougie finds his perfect niche – servicing Allen’s wife, Penelope. (Readers who don’t care for m/f should be aware that though Dougie is a female’s slave, their more intimate activity is conducted off-page.) Allen continues to use the brothers as manipulation tools, and the results become more interesting as the story progresses.

This particular installment is one of the most compelling to date, in my opinion.  Even as the boys fall into a “routine” of service on the island, we know that the authors will not allow us to become complacent for very long. We see a strange shift in the boys’ roles and attitudes as Mat prepares to flee and Dougie continues to pine desperately for the security and love he thinks Nikolai can provide him. The reader can feel that things are building to an explosive climax that lies just on the horizon.

I cannot say much more without giving away important details, but the final scene in which the boys confront each other over their chance at freedom is incredibly powerful in its emotional intensity. The changes wrought by the brothers’ captivity is no more glaringly evident than at this point, and the authors do a sensational job of creating a palpable tension, thick with Mat’s anguish and Dougie’s impassivity. Add to this the tremendous cliffhanger at the end, and it is nearly impossible not to jump right into the next episode.

Obviously, this series is an acquired taste, and its violent content is not palatable to many. However, for those who love psychological thrillers and are able to handle the physical brutality, the story of these two brothers is borderline addictive. My investment in these characters and the authors’ exceptional writing skills keep me hooked.  Number 14 awaits, ready for me to pounce upon it.

Buy Links:

Riptide Publishing
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,

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