Title: Flesh Market
Author: Kate Lowell
My Rating: A
Genre: Contemporary Dark Romance (m/m)
Series: Bodies and Souls #1
Main Characters: Leo and Julian
Release Date: November 2014
Publisher: Loose ID
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic
But he wasn’t expecting the partner they sent, or his own gut-punch of a response to the man.
Julian worked hard for that FBI Honors Internship. It was supposed to be a foot in the door. He’d never expected it to catapult him into the middle of a major undercover operation. Yet here he is, sleeping on a filthy mattress and using every trick in the book to avoid torture--and worse. He’s never felt so scared, or so alive, in his entire life, and he’s not sure if it’s the danger, or Leo, that’s making his heart race.
There’s no time to think about it, though. The operation is heating up, and Leo and Julian are running out of time and options. As choices become more difficult, they must find a way to take the traffickers down, or risk becoming just another set of organs for sale
This was a book I'd bought on my own and hadn't really planned to review it because the content of the story is really very dark. This is NOT a light, happy read. But it is a very good read, and that's why I decided to go ahead and review it.
While the beginning of the story takes a while to really get going, once it did, I could not put the book down...staying up until after 2:00 AM to finish reading it. I was completely taken with Leo and Julian's drama and how in the world they were ever going to escape this world. See, they are both working for the FBI. Leo's been undercover forever in this human trafficking world with very little to show for it. So Julian, who's not as trained as he should be, is sent in as one of the trafficked kids. He's only 20, but can pass for 15. Leo has to keep him alive and as safe as possible...which isn't very much since the kids are beaten, mutilated, raped, and killed at the whims of very sick people.
At moments the book is extremely graphic, but at other times it feels almost mild compared to other books I've read on this subject. The worst of the sordid sex scenes happen off the page, but there are other scenes which made me feel utterly wretched for having read them, especially knowing that these things do happen to kids every day in our world. It's horrific.
It's especially horrific for Julian and Leo who are doing everything they can to keep themselves alive and those around them as safe as possible. Something that they aren't always successful at. Kids die...that's a reality in this book, and you need to know that going into reading this. It's not for the faint of heart. In the midst of this horror, the two heroes find safety and security in one another and form a very tight bond...something that probably would never happen normally for them since Leo is in his late 30s and Julian is 20. But these are extreme, highly emotional, and stressful circumstances that put them in a different mindset than they would be in their normal lives. I liked how that worked for them. It worked as believable for me as the reader.
But this isn't necessarily a happily ever after. Don't get me wrong...this is NOT an unhappy ending or cliffhanger. With no spoilers here, I liked the way the author wrote the ending. The circumstances after they get out of all this and what happened with them felt very right for what they went through. With that being said, the ending is very open-ended. The book also says that it's book #1. I'm hoping that means the author plans to bring us more of Leo and Julian. If she does, I'll be there waiting for the next book. I definitely want to read it.