Rebellious Cargo

Susan Lodge
Rebellious Cargo
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Crooked Cat Publishing
Release Date
October 2015
Historical Novel with Romantic Elements, Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense/Mystery

Jane Charlesworth, daughter of England's foremost code breaker, is the only person thought capable of deciphering a vital government document. But when a naval frigate is sent to enlist her services and transport her to Malta, Jane is horrified. Haunted with terrible memories of an earlier voyage, she has no intention of putting herself under the protection of the Admiralty ever again.
Anxious to be at the forefront of the action as the peace with France crumbles, Adam Marston is livid when his ship is diverted to collect a reluctant blue-stocking whose accusing eyes and insolent manner hold nothing but contempt for him and his orders. Sparks fly when captain and code breaker find they have different ideas on how to handle a French attack, a malicious chaplain, and boisterous midshipmen.
Duty and desire collide as they approach Malta, but Jane is determined that her judgment will not be clouded by Adam who, once he has despatched his Rebellious Cargo, will sail out of her life again. But, as the ship docks, Jane's life becomes a nightmare and she is forced to gamble that Adam is the only person she can trust.
As passion battles with duty, will future orders throw them together or tear them apart?

Book Review by Elizabeth Ramsay (reviewer)
Sep 22, 2016   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
146 people found the following review helpful
Jane Charlesworth is a loyal British subject and had always done her utmost to aid the Admiralty with her codebreaking skills. However, that all changed when they failed to protect her and instead the crew handed her over to her attacker. After surviving the brutal assault, Jane fled and went into her late husband's shipping business.

Adam Marston is the captain of the Elinora and has been sent by the Admiralty to retrieve Jane. He has his own problems with women as he lost his family over a quarrel about a woman who turned out to be a fortune hunter. Jane's distrust of British officers makes the relationship fraught with tension.

Jane must be delivered to Malta so that she can decode her father's last project. As the war with France heats up, a dead intelligence officer unwilling to trust traditional channels with his final words can only spell trouble. When the Elinora is attacked by a French ship this trouble seems confirmed. Can Adam get Jane safely to Malta or will she be lost to the enemy, who might be closer than either of them knows?

REBELLIOUS CARGO is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. Taming narratives usually suggest that women who display independent and non-normative behaviour need a good man to come along and take control of them. They reinforce the societal belief that women should be silent and obedient. REBELLIOUS CARGO makes a few attempts to challenge the standard narrative, but mostly stays true to it. There is no attempt by Adam to understand Jane's fears of intimacy, and even more troubling, Jane does not seem to understand them herself.

The novel suggests that sexual assault victims can get over their trauma through finding the right man and sleeping with him. This seems simplistic, especially as Adam and Jane never speak directly of her feelings about her attack. The novel reads like the author doesn't really know anything about sexual assault victims, but simply thought it would make a good plot point.

While the novel is well written at a basic level, it lacks depth and the love between Adam and Jane feels contrived. After the terrible way he treats her, there is no real motive for her feelings other than to move the plot forward. This may have been better off as a suspense novel than a romance.
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