Hidden Cargo

Sarah Marsh
Hidden Cargo
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Evernight Publishing
Release Date
September 2018
Book 2 of Alien Captor
Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Ménage or more, Multi-cultural/Multi-racial Romance, Romantic Science Fiction/Futuristic

No good deed goes unpunished, or at least it doesn't for Cassie Decker. Helping someone on the side of the road changed her life—and left her stranded on an alien planet. Lucky for her, two large, green rescuers offer her a second chance at a new life. Now all she has to do is find the courage to reach out and grab it.

Officers Deryc and Gage have a comfortable life on the island of Ilya. It may not be perfect, but they enjoy their work and they have each other. When fate reveals an unauthorized female has been hiding right under their noses, they know they must do their duty—but can they hand her over to an unknown future when she just might be the perfect female for their clan?

The Goddess works in mysterious ways, but will Cassie and her officers realize what they have found before someone tries to alter their paths forever?
Be Warned: menage sex (MMF), m/m sex, double penetration, anal sex

Book Review by Fiorella Mauro (reviewer)
Nov 29, 2018   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
63 people found the following review helpful
HIDDEN CARGO is a science fiction LGBTQ ménage steamy romance by author Sarah Marsh, the second in her Alien Captors series. It refers to book 1 in the series and teases book 3, but it is a standalone story that you can read on its own. And I think you should read it.

HIDDEN CARGO is relatively light and unchallenging, unless you are challenged by polyamory, interracial marriage, gay relationships, a compassionate immigration system, and dogs that are allowed to sleep on the bed. It has giggles and smiles and squees, and almost no eeks. It has a terribly dark premise that author Sarah Marsh somehow turns into a bright and happy story almost instantly.

I was so pleased to meet Cassie Decker. I spend a lot of time thinking about what a strong female lead looks like in a novel. (There has to be more going on than that she has a job and she swears a bit.) Cassie knows who she is and she knows what she's worth. She adapts and survives the hardships that the plot has in store for her. She has resources inside herself that sustain her. She is a whole person, and when she gets her happily ever after, the arithmetic of her relationship is 1 plus 1 equals 2 (or 1 plus 2 equals 3 in this case) and not 1 plus 1 equals 1. Cassie is a legitimately strong female lead.

The male leads, on the other hand, rarely felt like more than sexy paper dolls. They are virtuous, well-mannered, considerate, and capable. They are roses without a thorn. Don't get me wrong--Cassie has earned it--but the lack of relationship friction is part of a larger tendency in HIDDEN CARGO. The story seems to be avoiding tension at every step.

HIDDEN CARGO does this in two main ways:

1- It introduces potential conflict, then dispels it a page or two later. (Or in the next sentence. I'm not exaggerating.) OR
2-It introduces a potential source of conflict long after the reader knows that there's no problem really.

There's not much doubt about how things will work out in the story; in one sequence, the male leads (and the reader) learn about a major story beat but the female lead doesn't. Not only is her subsequent stressful wait meaningless, but she loses the dramatic reveal to her lovers that she would have had if her information was new. I've never been so thirsty for an author to manipulate me.

HIDDEN CARGO seems to be rushing to get to an appointment. There is an early time jump so sharp that it cuts out the whole of Cassie's storyline between arriving on an alien world and meeting Deryc and Gage; I think that loss of Cassie-time is a missed opportunity for such a well-constructed character. (The time jump also forces author Sarah Marsh to fall back on "love at first sight" to make up for the condensed timeline.) HIDDEN CARGO'S need for speed even bumps up the time of an expected electrical storm in Act II, shortening the window the leads have to get acquainted. What is the story about if not that?

Where the male leads are sexy-dull, author Sarah Marsh's supporting characters are wonderfully evocative. Giant earth mother Tash steals everybody's pants whenever she appears in a scene. Dax the dog has a story arc of abduction, found family, fear of isolation, heroism, and acceptance into an expanded family. Even the sketchiest characters have an implied depth that allows the reader to write their own backstories. I want to register my interest now in learning more about Reg's two wives.

I liked HIDDEN CARGO. It's well-written and copy-edited, which I am always grateful for. I'm not sure it quite works--the structure of the story makes HIDDEN CARGO a spoiler for HIDDEN CARGO--but there's more than enough in it to make it worth reading. It's a holiday into a beautiful, not terribly dangerous universe where pretty much everyone is awesome and there is tart for dessert.
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