Hello all, and welcome to the Oh Thank God It’s Finally Finished last-episode blog tour for the Flesh Cartel! :) Episode #19 has just released, and thus concludes the serial whose first episode released nearly two years past. We’re so excited to be sharing the boys’ happy endings with you, and to be with you here on this last look at the nearly 400,000 word journey into and then out of the darkness of human trafficking. We’ve done our best to make this tour fun and interesting both for folks who haven’t yet read the books but might be considering doing so, and for folks who’ve already begun (or already finished!) the series. Plus, there’s some very cool prizes up for grabs at the end of the post!
If you follow/have been following the tour, you’ll see that one of our tour stops features art by the exceptionally talented Ariaa (y-gallery link). As a special treat for one lucky commenter on our tour, we’re commissioning one more Flesh Cartel-themed image from them . . . and the blog tour grand prize winner gets to pick the scene of their choice! So if you have a favourite scene from the series that you’d like to see brought to life in gorgeous art, now’s your chance! The lucky winner will also receive a $25 gift certificate to Riptide Publishing.
Haven’t read the series yet? We’re also giving away a copy of the first season to five lucky commenters! That’s six fantastic prizes in total! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on any stop on the tour. Each comment (up to one per tour stop) counts as its own entry, so the more you comment, the more chances you have to win.
About the Authors
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in Alberta with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write.
She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centred on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!)
Her writing reflects everything she loves: diverse casts of characters, a sense of history and place, equal parts witty and filthy dialogue, the occasional mythological twist, and most of all, love—in all its weird and wonderful forms.
Connect with Heidi:
- Blog: www.heidibelleau.com
- Twitter: @HeidiBelleau
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/heidibelleau
- Email: email@example.com
Rachel Haimowitz is an M/M erotic romance author and the Publisher of Riptide Publishing. She's also a sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, and quite proudly pervish. Fortunately, all those things make writing a lot more fun for her . . . if not so much for her characters.
When she's not writing about hot guys getting it on (or just plain getting it; her characters rarely escape a story unscathed), she loves to read, hike, camp, sing, perform in community theater, and glue captions to cats. She also has a particular fondness for her very needy dog, her even needier cat, and shouting at kids to get off her lawn.
Connect with Rachel:
- Website: rachelhaimowitz.com
- Tumblr: rachelhaimowitz.tumblr.com
- Twitter: @RachelHaimowitz
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/metarachel
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding Love in All the Wrong Places
When we set out to write the Flesh Cartel, we never for one moment pretended that we were or would be writing a romance. While the plan was to have Dougie “fall in love” (in a very stockholmish manner of speaking) with his captor, we always took pains to represent that as a profoundly unhealthy relationship, even if Nikolai believed he loved Dougie back in his own way. For a long time, we thought that’d be the extent of the so-called romance occurring in the Flesh Cartel, but then, as we passed the midway point in the boys’ story, two things became crystal clear: 1) The boys, and our readers, deserved every conceivable happy ending we could give them; and 2) There was not only room for romance in this story after all, but compelling narrative ways and reasons to introduce it.
#1 is kind of self-explanatory: after all the misery (and oh god is it a lot of misery) the boys (and consequently the readers) endure, we wanted to make the ending as happy as possible. Of course, given said miseries, we also had to be very careful and realistic about just what that happiness might entail. Romance for Dougie seemed impossible, even as we approached the end of Season 5; he was too damaged, had lost too much of himself to trust himself to someone else again so soon. But romance was possible for Mat, who’d never been broken down into a new person, who’d never suffered Nikolai burrowing too deeply into his head and making him feel things he would never otherwise have felt. Somewhere around the writing of episode 9, when we were conceiving of the possibility of the FBI characters and how big a role (if any) they might or might not play in the story, we came to realize that maybe, just maybe, the narrative shape would really let Mat have this.
He’d have to work for it, of course. And oh boy does he ever. Which is where #2 came in. By the time we were leading up to the introduction of the FBI characters, we saw exactly how a love interest might fit into the narrative and, perhaps more importantly, why it could be so important to the story. (Spoilers for Season 4 ahoy!) Special Agent Nate Johnson isn’t, as it turns out, actually all that pivotal in freeing the boys. It’s Mat who frees himself, and later, ultimately, frees Dougie, although obviously he had an awful lot of help with that second bit. But where Nate became absolutely, positively critical was in the healing that came after--and not just for Mat, but for Doug as well. It’s not that Nate has a ton of interaction with Doug (and in fact quite a bit of their interactions were negative from Doug’s point of view); it’s that Nate became Mat’s rock, and that allowed Mat to be Doug’s rock, which eventually allows Doug to start his own healing as well.
Mat and Nate do not have an easy romantic arc. Their feelings for each other--and for themselves in relation to each other--are a huge source of narrative tension in the last two seasons of the Flesh Cartel. Like everything either one of them has ever had, they have to fight incredibly hard to get it, and to keep it. And once they have it, there’s no magical healing cock, no easy answers, no quick fixes or insta-heals. Even when the story ends, they have their problems. Mat, in particular, still has tons of problems. But it is a happy ever after, and it’s one they worked hard to earn together and that you know they’ll get to share together for the rest of their lives. Even amidst the brutal darkness of a story like the Flesh Cartel--and in some ways, because of that darkness--love can indeed flourish.