An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League) by Alyssa Cole (2017)
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Romance
Page Length: 263 pages (paperback edition)
Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.
Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.
Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . . . (description from Goodreads)
An Extraordinary Union is a historical novel set during the Civil war era. Our protagonist is the sassy, extremely intelligent, and resourceful lady named Elle. She’s a former slave who has a photographic memory and uses these skills, plus her wide knowledge to work as a spy for the Union army. While working undercover as a slave she has to blend into her surroundings in order to obtain secrets, and try not to fall for the rakish Malcolm McCall who also happens to be a spy.
The book is mostly told through Elle’s perspective, but readers are also able to see through the eyes of Malcolm. The balance between the two POVs is nice, and it gives readers a dual perspective of what is happening throughout the book without seeming too biased on one side. Though Ellen and Malcolm have a strong initial attraction to one another they cannot act upon their feelings in public due to the harsh society at that time
Malcolm has a strong hatred for slavery and wants to abolish it, but Ellen still checks him on his privileged status. Because even though Malcolm works hard as a Union spy he doesn’t completely grasp everything from a black person’s perspective being a white man. Elle talks to him about the oppression of her people and how they have had everything stolen from them. If they win the war everything won’t change overnight, but at least some sense of justice will be served.
This is the first book in this genre that I’ve read in a long while that I really felt a strong blend of rich history and romance. The book feels and reads historically accurate: the speech felt authentic, the details of the war, significant historical events that occurred at that time, and descriptions of clothing. While the romance is sweet with its steamy moments, the realities of their blooming relationship, loom over the readers minds. The suspense of the two being caught together or if their cover as a spy will be blown had me on edge the entire story.
If you’re looking for an action-packed historical romance An Extraordinary Union is the book for you!
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