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Tag Archives: Dark Theme

CH_BeginningOfKnowledge_cvrTitle: The Beginning of Knowledge
Author: Anne Brooke
Publisher: Wilde City
Length: 12k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Erotica
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Charlie Harding Presents, Wilde City Press Erotica Week, Dark, Kink (Pain, Humiliation), Public Sex, Self Discovery
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

When University administrator Alan Castleton meets temporary worker and talented pianist Luke Milton, he doesn’t expect to become obsessed with the handsome young blond. But soon he is heavily involved in a passionate and angry affair, and exploring the dark shadows of his own personality in a way he’s never encountered before.

The more Alan tries to break free from his obsession, the deeper it entangles him. The dangerous split between his reason and his sexual desires threatens his peace of mind and, when the crisis point comes, he must decide once and for all the kind of life he should lead.

REVIEW

Now this is the type of erotica that I like to read! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a romp or what have you but Anne has written a darkly erotic story that is much more a story about self-discovery than a rough frame for porn without any reason. And Anne is so good at writing these types of stories. Here we have a man (Alan) who is at a point in his life of stagnancy. His relationships always fail and he’s grown to believe it’s solely because of him and his reaction is to abstain from any kind of relationship for a while and go about his life concentrating on his job. What he doesn’t expect is Luke, the new temp in his office that pushes all his buttons — the ones he learns that he’s not sure he ever wanted pushed. Luke makes him feel powerful, but only at the end of his degradation and abuse against him, and that feeling of power over Luke is at the same time addictive and dangerous.

What we have with this story is almost a character study of a man who feels powerless finding power over someone else. He learns throughout the story just how dangerous he is, but that is both because he is in denial of who he really is and that he hasn’t really dealt with his feelings and his past. I think that more than anything this is a smart story, because Anne forces you to confront your own feelings about Alan and Luke. Many will finish this story seeing the sex and pain as the focus, of one man being dragged into a world of Dominance that he doesn’t understand and finding that he revels in it. That it, and the story, is dark and sinfully sexy. I came away with something different from this story, and perhaps that’s what defines this story more than anything, your own perception of it. I found it as a story of a man, Alan, who doesn’t understand himself. He ends up in a darkly addictive spiral out of control because he never faced his issues head on. He always tries to run from them, and so they hold on to him all the stronger.

But it is worth finding out on your own. The writing here is superb. I felt as if I knew Alan intimately only a few pages into his first person narrative because for all that he’s blind to what is going on he’s starkly transparent. So I commend Anne for writing a story that is indeed knowledgable, that is informative but at the same time seductively sexy. I think you should read this one just to see what you take from it.


Title: The Flesh Cartel #2: Auction
Author: Heidi Belleau & Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Riptide
Length: 17,600 words, 63 pages
Genre: m/m, Contemporary, BDSM/Kink, Erotica, Poly, Horror
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Dark, Kidnapping/Abduction, Physical & Sexual Abuse, Family, Captive/Slave, Serial, Short Story, Angst, Non-Romance, Humiliation, (Semi) Incest, Dub/Non-con, Cliffhanger, Double Penetration, Exhibition
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

**Some may consider this a tad spoilerish, so beware!**

BLURB

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In episode two of The Flesh Cartel, the dark purpose behind Mat and Dougie Carmichael’s abduction is revealed. Though Dougie is protected from the worst of the guards’ brutality, he’s disgusted to find himself halfway to broken—despairing of escape and terrified of pain. Mat holds onto hope despite repeated rapes and beatings, but threats toward his brother teach him well to lay aside his pride and pick his battles carefully.

Worn down by days of unrelenting fear and abuse, Mat and Dougie are packaged and marketed with the same ruthless efficiency as any consumer product: Dougie the prettyboy twink, Mat the rabid pit bull. They are led to the auction block as the showpiece of the house’s collection.

Mat would rather be beaten to death than play the role of obedient slave for sale, but Dougie, desperate not to be separated from his brother, strikes a deal with the pitiless Madame who runs the auction house and controls both their fates. It might just be enough to keep them together—slaves, but together—assuming Mat even wants to be after Dougie fulfills his end of his deal with the devil.

REVIEW

Auction, episode two of The Flesh Cartel and the end of season one, picks up right where episode one, Capture, leaves off. Where Mat and Dougie just finished being processed into the slave facility, they are now being held there. Beaten, raped and tortured, both Mat and Dougie are struggling with their new lives with nothing to wear and nothing to sleep on and the constant threat of more abuse. While Mat is still a fighter, he’s losing the strength and energy to fight but every time something happens to Dougie, he gains back that heated anguish and rage he possesses at what’s happening to them. In turn, Dougie is complacent and obedient being a “hole” because he knows it’s less painful to accept things. While Dougie is ashamed of not being brave enough to stick up for his brother, Mat is ashamed and humiliated into giving in to his abusers. After undergoing days of beatings and rapes, things change when they are outfitted for the Auction. With the threat of being separated, the Madame gives Dougie the option of being sold together or losing his brother forever. Dougie knows this is his time to save Mat, in the only way he can, even if it means torturing Mat himself to keep them together.

As with the first one, this book is intense, powerful and well-written. Where there were left over questions before, we get some answers this time. We know why the brothers are there and we get a hint into how they were selected to become prime stock for the Madame’s collection. We also get a more inside look into Nikolai, the mysterious man from the first story. This time, we know he’s looking into the brothers and why he wants them, and ultimately buys them. It’s interesting to see the dynamics of the process, how the brothers were brought in, how they’re treated and how they’re eventually manipulated into what the Madame wants them to do so their price becomes higher. Dougie is the pretty twink while Mat is the dangerous thug. They are polar opposites but together they are beautiful and the Madame realizes that and utilizes that to her satisfaction.

I was once again sucked into this world. While in Capture the violence was often experienced second-hand by Mat, this one we get the full details of a lot of what happens first-hand. We experience, in those moments, what the brothers are thinking and how they’re coping and when they break. Granted, there are some scenes that are experienced second-hand still but it’s no less powerful because, while one brother is being tortured or raped, the other brother has to physically see it so it’s just as intense. The first half of the book takes place over a few days and focuses being held in their cells. The second half went by very quickly because there’s anticipation and anxiety of what will come next. I knew something far beyond just the cruelty would occur and I was right but waiting for that to happen was torture in itself. It left me hanging on the edge of my seat, wondering if there would be a little happiness at some point and for one sweet moment there is… and then it becomes extreme and brutal and almost made me want to cry because of who does it and how it’s played out.

It’s a gripping tale that doesn’t let up, you’re thrust right back in to the cruel and harsh world Mat and Dougie were forced into. They’re still treated like dogs, humiliated and inserted with different types of objects but now they’re also treated like real slaves, at the mercy of anyone that wants them. Mat gets more abuse than Dougie but only because Dougie has been granted some protection to keep his price up. Everything these boys go through is heartbreaking but my sympathy will always go to Mat first because he’s so strong but reduced to such a lowly thing whereas Dougie can easily adapt to being a slave, it’s harder for Mat because of who is.

This was a captivating and fascinating story, one I couldn’t put down once I started. It leaves off right after Dougie had to make his sacrifice, so to speak, but that’s to be expected. Everything felt charged and heated. My heart clenched all over again for these boys but as with the first episode, I’m still left with a lot of questions about why they were selected and what will happen next. I’ll be eagerly looking forward to the next one but the wait might possibly kill me! For those that liked episode one, you’ll definitely like episode two. It’s just as dark, gritty and harsh as the first.


Title: The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture
Author: Rachel Haimowitz & Heidi Belleau
Publisher: Riptide
Length: 18,100 words, 75 pages
Genre: m/m, Contemporary, BDSM/Kink, Erotica, Poly, Horror
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Dark, Kidnapping/Abduction, Physical & Sexual Abuse, Family, First Time, Captive/Slave, Serial, Short Story, Angst, Non-Romance, Humiliation, (Semi) Incest, Dub/Non-con
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

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In this first installment of the exciting new psychosexual thriller, The Flesh Cartel, orphaned brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael are stolen in the night from their own home. Taken to a horrifying processing facility, they are assessed, microchipped, and subjected to unspeakable brutality—all in preparation for sale to the highest bidder.

In a world where every person has a price, the beautiful and subduable PhD student Dougie is highly prized. His brother, a rough-edged MMA fighter, is less desirable—and potentially too dangerous—but he still has his own appeal.

Abused and locked up under round-the-clock surveillance, with no idea where they are or even why they’ve been taken, escape seems impossible, which leaves staying together their only hope. And after being separated once by the foster system, they’ll do anything to keep it from happening again. Anything at all.

REVIEW

This book tells the tale of Mat, an MMA fighter, trying to support him and his brother and Dougie, an inspiring Ph. D student, being taken in the middle of the night and required to withstand numerous brutal and horrifying actions to stay alive. They’re taken by multiple men, raped, abused and then forced to cooperate in being processed to become slaves. Mat is dangerous but Dougie is his weakness and his kidnappers know it. If he doesn’t cooperate, Dougie’s dead but Dougie’s too scared to do anything but endure their torture. This is the story of two brothers taken and forced into a new brutal world with no answers as to why they were targeted.

This was a great book. It’s powerful, intense and well written. It’s wonderfully brutal and captivating. I was sucked into the story from the beginning and fascinated with the play of events. It’s a great start to a new serial that’s sure to keep me on the edge of my seat. We get almost immediately thrown into violence, rape and kidnapping but we also get to know Mat and Dougie a bit, too. I winced a few times over what was happening and my heart clenched at what these boys went through.

Some of their abuse is told instead of shown so it’s not as brutal it could have been but then some of it is told in excruciating detail that lets you know just how much pain these boys are in. They’re treated like dogs, microchipped, chained and, in Mat’s case, caged. They’re forced to perform sexually, humiliated into orgasms, inserted with all types of objects and tested how much they want to live by requiring Mat to rim Dougie to stay alive. It’s intense and dark but not as much as I was expecting. The fact that Mat is gay while Dougie is straight is heartbreaking because Dougie gets most of the abuse and assault. I felt horrible for these guys, it’s shocking what they go through but I couldn’t stop reading once I started.

My main problem, though, is that I had a ton of questions from the start that weren’t answered which is understandable considering it’s a serial but also kind of frustrating. Still, I was plagued with these questions! It kept bugging me why Dougie was targeted, why would they stalk him, put so much effort into learning about him and Mat’s schedule. It seems like a lot of work for just one guy when there are numerous street kids out there that seem easier to obtain. Beyond that, I felt like, at times, the blurb gave more information than the actual story did. I also had trouble with the POV changes. In my converted copy, there was no indication that it switched from Mat to Dougie, or vice versa, which got me confused and pulled me slightly out of the story several times because then I had to go back and reread a few passages.

This book gives a hint of the workings of an underground slave auction. I’m curious where it heads and I really can’t wait to see how it all plays out and what Nikolai (who’s only mentioned in the beginning) has to do with it. There’s also no romance but I’m curious if one will develop (oh man, I hope one develops!).

In the end, this was a wonderful start to a new serial. Definitely recommended to those brave enough to read or those looking for something dark and gritty to pass the time.


**Note: The Keywords/Tags might spoil some readers!**
Title: In the Pines
Author: Lydia Nyx
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 10,100 words, 27 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story Ratio
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Mini-Mystery, Gun Kink, Dark Theme, Cops, Ghosts/Spirits, Alaska
Rating: Me Like

BLURB

Tyler Maxwell is a former New York cop now working a desk job in Alaska. But he hasn’t lost all of his cop instincts. After purchasing a gun as a gift despite the gun shop owner’s insistence that the weapon was cursed, Tyler starts doing some investigating into the gun’s sordid past. He turns up evidence of a string of unexplained suicides, all apparently committed with the very same gun.



At the same time, Tyler begins to have erotic dreams about the beautiful and mysterious Flynn. Thoughts of Flynn soon begin to intrude upon Tyler’s waking hours, though, and it becomes clear that Flynn wants more from Tyler than just his body. He has a favor to ask. Now, Tyler has to finally unravel the mystery of the gun before he becomes its next victim.

This story was previously published as part of the Weight of a Gun anthology by Storm Moon Press.

REVIEW

This dark and finely crafted mini mystery had me falling for everything I was set up to, and then marveling at the turn the story took and the way it artfully came together.

The story opens as Tyler studies the different variety of guns available at a shop in Anchorage, Alaska. He’s looking for a gift for his brother, soon to come home from Iraq. He himself is new to the area; six months previously he was shot in the line of work as a NYC police officer. Now he’s a weak and atrophied version of himself, grieving his past life and working behind the desk for the local force. Tyler is intrigued by a new looking Browning pistol that is shelved among the cheaper guns and rifles. It stands out as a nice gun and a pistol and when he expresses interest in buying it, the man behind the counter tries to talk him out of it by telling him that every owner of the gun has committed suicide. Tyler doesn’t believe it and buys the gun anyway, but when he starts to lose his mind and become strangely attached to it, he finally realizes there might be something true to the unbelievable story.

There are two parts of this story that really stand out because they work so well. The first is that this story is in effect a mystery. This is one of the very few short stories that I think has pulled a mystery off in such short time. It is true that there’s little time to parse out the details, but it isn’t an overly complicated plot, and the author is very crafty in putting narration to good use.

The second and most obvious from the beginning of the story is the craft in characterization of Tyler. To him, the gun is a symbol of the life he left behind. He’s emasculated by his frail body, at times using a cane. He’s lost the power that comes with being a police officer. The gun gives him power. It is quickly also shown in relation to his personal life. He’s afraid of his body because he’s so embarrassed by his scars and atrophied muscles. He would rather his life remain figuratively impotent then succumb to the safe relationship, something he despises and is represented by the character of Eric.

Tyler didn’t do nice guys. The kind of guys he did were far from nice — nice to look at, yes, but not nice in the sense they would send you cupcakes and listen to your problems. The guys Tyler usually liked were sleek and sexy, emotionally dangerous, sharp as knife blades. They were often young, sculpted, and had exquisite tastes.

He met them in clubs and pulled them over for speeding in fast, expensive cars. They liked to dance and drink and fucked like animals. They tore up his designer sheets or messed up hotel rooms, and some of them liked to feel his handcuffs. More than a few were turned on by his uniform and peeled it off him as part of the sex act. Authority was the oldest aphrodisiac; he knew this and liked what it attracted.

The loss of that power and control is devastating to Tyler, who by implication defined his life and his job together. This is immediately shown to be true when the mysterious Flynn starts to show up in his dreams, a place where he can once again be the confident lover he used to be.

Flynn is the amalgamation of that type of man, dangerously seductive. In essence, he is the gun, the symbol of everything Tyler had and wants to have again. “Every gun had a story, dangerous and thrilling like those young men who came through his bedroom door.” Flynn’s actions show this well:

This time, he crawled up from the bottom o the bed and slinked over Tyler’s bare legs, gloriously naked again…

His lips quirked. “You’re a police officer, aren’t you?”
“I was.” No, in the dream he could be whatever he wanted to be. “I am.”
“At last,” Flynn replied. “Good.”

Slinking out from under the bed is something we all associate with a nightmare, which immediately raises red flags. These deliberate choices really stand out because I was aware that my emotions and the collective cultural memory was being played on. I appreciated that because it was so deliberately done. Yet, I was again surprised later when everything I had thought had a new, yet equally understandable connotation. The ability for the author to do that impressed me, and left me with a real appreciation for her writing.

The ending of this story is fabulous. Again, not what I would have expected, but appreciated once I had time to consider it. This is a story that won’t be for every reader. Anyone sensitive to guns or the violence associated with them might not be able to look at the story objectively, which I understand. Also, this is very unconventionally romantic. I don’t think you could really consider it a romance, but I still found it romantic, though some might not. It probably will not satisfy those looking for romance as a priority in their stories and the focus here really is the individual journey of Tyler. I think it was beautifully written just like the gun, dangerously seductive.