Doug and Mat’s story of recovery continues, and once again I am left in tears.
Title: The Flesh Cartel #18: The Long Road
Author: Rachel Haimowitz & Heidi Belleau
Cover Artist: Imaliea
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
With the help of the FBI, Mat Carmichael has let himself be re-taken by the Flesh Cartel. Objective? Rescue his brother, exact revenge, and destroy the entire organization from the inside.
FBI Special Agent Nate Johnson will be playing backup, of course, but to get Dougie out alive, Mat will need to make sure his brother is out of Allen’s clutches before calling in the troops. Now that Mat’s back in bondage, though, there’s no way he can do it alone. He’ll have to ask for help from the only man within the Cartel who cares about Dougie’s welfare: Nikolai. And even knowing it will destroy him, Nikolai delivers.
Bringing down the Cartel should have been the hardest part, but it doesn’t take long to realize that the real challenge has only just begun. Dougie doesn’t know how to be free anymore, and Mat is forced to admit that he may no longer be strong enough to help himself, let alone his brother. But with loved ones in their corner and their love for each other banked but not extinguished, Mat and Dougie learn that you can come home again, no matter how desperate the circumstances you’ve left behind.
READER DISCRETION ADVISED.
Mat and Doug are protected from The Cartel, but nothing can shelter them from the after-effects of their experience and their constant doubts and fears. Time in captivity has left them damaged and struggling to navigate the waters of relationships, the most difficult of which being the ones they share with each other and with themselves. As Mat and Nate continue to circle tentatively around their mutual attraction, Doug makes a desperate attempt to take control of his life in the only way he knows how. With their connection as brothers hanging in the balance, the boys must find the strength within themselves to conquer their fears in order to discover a path back to each other and to recovery.
Note: Although I recommend this series for the strong-stomached reader who can handle the violations and brutalities associated with non-consensual slave and captivity scenarios, this particular episode focuses on recovery and a has low level of violence.
Despite the fact that Doug and Mat are free, their sense of liberation is warped by the horrors of their long ordeal at the hands of The Cartel. The Long Road is aptly named, and I commend the authors for taking time to create a lengthy recovery period for the boys, especially for Doug. In this episode, page time is divided equally between the two brothers, providing each with their own unique inner dialogue and set of obstacles. As can be expected, the number and enormity of these burdens seem insurmountable, and the boys’ painful endeavors to unscramble the mess that their physical and emotional traumas have made of their lives had me reading through my tears in many instances. The authors do a superb job in detailing Mat’s heroic and agonizing pursuit of a new “normal” while trying to protect his little brother and deal with PTSD episodes. Doug’s story line is particularly enthralling and yet devastating to read as he grapples with intense doubts about his identity, self-worth, and how he will ever belong anywhere again.
Additionally, I love Mat and FBI agent Nate together and Nate’s stalwart attempts to maintain an appropriate distance from Mat for ethical and emotional reasons. I also love the fact that he is human, compassionate, and so drawn to Mat that his efforts to uphold his professionalism are continually challenged. His reactions to Mat and the situations in which he finds himself are believable and heartbreaking, and I hope to see the relationship continue to develop in the next episode.
It is difficult to say more without providing too many story details. Overall, this episode is a powerful look at how the boys try to cope with the devastation their ordeal has created, particularly in their brother/brother relationship. As they take heartbreakingly difficult steps forward and back, the results of their current choices will ultimately decide how they will repair their fragile bond – if at all. The authors have done a wonderful job of bringing the brothers’ painful recovery period to the page, and I feel more tethered to Doug and Mat after reading this installment than I ever have. I eagerly await #19.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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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