Uncharted by Alli Temple

Summary

A pirate action-romance, Uncharted stars Lady Georgina or George as she prefers, the fallen relative of high nobility of the Kingdom of Redmere. As the society and economy of the kingdom struggle under increasingly oppressive Puritanism, the lady does her small part to resist the ruling Prince. This ends as her brother forcefully betrothed to the very same Prince who would abhor her as much for her secret preferences as her treason.


Captain Cinder is an infamous pirate that has caused trouble for the kingdom for some time, building a reputation for kidnapping notables. This new princess is a chance too good to pass up. Little do either of them know that their lives have already entangled in their shared pasts and will make attempts at avoiding capture on the high seas much more complicated.

Book CW for graphic violence, corporal punishment, murder, discussions of emotional trauma, blackmail and manipulation, attempts at sexual violence, character death, violence against children, forced child labor, parental neglect, depictions of severe poverty, discussions of past suicide, off-screen sexual activity, descriptions of nudity, discussions of execution and state violence, police brutality, depictions of the families of MIA/KIA service personnel, institutional oppression of women and LGBTQ+ persons, homophobia, misogyny, depictions of consenting sex workers

My Review

The following review will go into mild spoilers for the book beyond the publishing summary. This book felt to me like a guilty pleasure read. The basic plot is one I have encountered many times that relies on "Red String of Fate" levels of destiny and convenience to bring our main characters together. However, a lot of their relationship building is realizing how much both of them have changed since their initial friendship. The book seemed mostly well-paced and did not overstay its welcome, taking me about 4.5 hours to read in one sitting. Some readers may feel the initial portion of the book set in Redmere to be overlong, but I personally enjoy the subtle manipulation and political activities occurring in this portion of the book.


The portion of the text I found the most frustrating was the end. I will not go any detail to avoid spoilers, but I really wish the author had gone in a different direction for the ending. It also seemed to be rather abrupt and anti-climactic in comparison to the action that had occurred only a short time before. As mentioned in the synopsis, the kingdom of Redmere has become a puritanical society under an oppressive regime in recent generations. As a result, they have very conservative attitudes towards women, marriage, sex, homosexuality, and self-expression that are heavily enforced on all but the highest in society. Even music and the use of bright fabrics is banned. However, there is no explanation for this imposed morality beyond that it started with the current Prince’s father. There is no mention of religious changes, so I suspect that was not the motivation. I wish that this was a bit further explored in the early portions of the book. It may have added interesting elements to the prince's backstory and non-economic motivations to the rebellious elements that Lady Georgina associates with.


In contrast, the rest of the world we get to see is much more liberal, including depictions of openly LGBTQ+ and non-binary characters as both main and side characters. There are moments where the two main Redmerian characters respond with shock or awe at the different cultural attitudes around them. This makes sense even if they were already chafing under the oppressive social mores of their home. However, I found that Rosie, the other Redmerian, processed and accepted Lady Georgina's preference for women romance partners very quickly. The two characters have already been close friends for a while and been through life and death experiences, but I would have expected the process to take less than the page it appeared to in the book.


As with many modern romance novels, this one is not for the kiddies. There are no scenes in the book that go bodice-ripping levels of action, though there is off-screen sex between secondary characters, nudity, and several passionate moments. The couple that forms between two secondary characters is broadcasted from fairly early on, but very cute and seemed to develop quite naturally.


For its passion, well-worn but satisfying plot, and a small cast of well fleshed-out characters, I give Uncharted 7/10.

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