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Released: March 4, 2013
Series: The Flesh Cartel #5
“Belleau and Haimowitz knock this episode out of the park with further developing a profound psychosexual thriller that this series truly is.” ~Under the Covers
In this 5th installment of THE FLESH CARTEL: WINS & LOSES, the egotistical, maniacal, wicked sadist and mind-fuck extraordinaire, Nikolai, continues his torture of Dougie and Mat and really begins to work hard to divide the brothers. No, they still have not seen each other and only know the other to also be in Nikolai’s not-so-little house of torture because Nikolai has told them so. He knows that both Dougie and Mat – and Mat especially – continue to behave in ways because each puts the other at the forefront of his thoughts and actions.
Nikolai is sooooo damn good at what he does, torturing my beloved Mat and Dougie, both in very different ways. And he continues to make great strides in molding them to be exactly how he wants them. It’s not perfect yet, but he is getting there, and God, how I love to hate this man for the success that he is.
Dougie, although a straight man, has begun to begrudgingly enjoy the pleasures of the flesh that Nicolai has given him. And while he feels like Mat would think him a coward for his feelings and his reactions to Nikolai, it is hard to stop himself. His mind is breaking down in other ways as well: in some instances, he sees affection from Nikolai and begins to wonder if Nikolai is expressing love; in other instances, he is seeking it out. Similarly, Mat tries to continue to be strong and full of pride for both himself and Dougie, but admittedly, he knows that Nikolai has broken him in both mind and spirit as well.
Mat has a lot of introspection in this book. At Nikolai’s urging, he sits down and writes a list of all the joys for which he lives. Also, as part of Nikolai’s plan to strengthen him back up to being “fighting fit,” Mat receives from him exercise equipment to help him get back in shape.
As in prior episodes, Nikolai keeps reminding the brothers of their choices…that they have a choice in everything that happens, except that supposed freedom of choice is wrapped in layer upon layer of electrified barbed wire fencing so that there really is no choice at all. Especially when the consequences of those choices is the equivalent of being thrown upon that electrified barbed wire fencing while soaking wet.
A couple of interesting insights to Nikolai’s way of thinking come through in this episode. As Mat notes, when he calls him a derogatory name, Nikolai reacts in a way that shows a “chink in his armor.” I find it interesting as well that Nikolai is a hypocrite of infinite proportions. He blasts Mat for noting that “winning” is a joy of his, when in fact, Nikolai lives to win. And in order to do so, he has to torture his slaves to achieve his goals. But hypocrisy, sadist-loving asshole aside, he does his job, and he does it well.
Like the last episode, WINS & LOSES truly further demonstrates Nikolai’s A-game in a mind-fuck of epic proportions. His torturous methods provide him the results he wants, and just his words (and lies) alone are the impetus in helping to divide the brothers as he needs them to be. Once again, Belleau and Haimowitz knock this episode out of the park with further developing a profound psychosexual thriller that this series truly is.
*Review copy provided by publisher
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