Okay, so this isn't really going to be a proper review, because this story is not finished. This instalment of The Flesh Cartel takes us up to the auction, where Mat and Dougie are purchased by Nikolai.
And holy crap -- I need to read the rest! I need to know what happens when Dougie and Mat are trained by Nikolai.
Because at the beginning, you see, Nikolai sees Dougie and thinks he has "...a mouth for reciting poetry with his head in his master's lap. And a mind for it, too" which made me cautiously optimistic for Dougie. Because okay, he would still be a slave, but at least he would be a cherished slave. This is the compromise I am making with my conscience (and probably one Dougie will make as well), but just when I was picking my way through the ethical minefield where there is such a thing as "okay" slavery, Nikolai changed the game again. In the end he writes of Dougie "Put the pretty one into complete isolation. Freeze him. Water only, no food. Have him hear no one, see no one, touch no one until my own men arrive for transport. Make him feel abandoned. Make him feel like the last man on Earth."
I think I have Stockholm Syndrome. I really want to believe that Nikolai is the safest and best option for Dougie. And I want Dougie to feel safe!
And Mat? Shit, at this point I can't even imagine that Mat's going to get anything like a happy ending.
"The poor bastard seemed perfect for his client's needs. Nikolai felt sorry for him already--to be denied the gift of culture, or devotion, of joy and peace in service. To be doomed to a life of suffering and misery..."