An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa ColeAn Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
Series: The Loyal League #1
Published by Kensington on March 28, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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As the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .

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 . . .

Though I don’t actually worry too much if my first or last book of the year is a specific number or is good for omen reasons, I’ll admit that it IS nice when those things happen. I wanted to hit 310 books for 2018 if I could, and I finished An Extraordinary Union at 11:30 on December 31. Even better, I got to end on a book that rocks. An Extraordinary Union goes to show how amazing diverse historical romance can be.

Alyssa Cole was generally on my radar, but her books were stuck with a mass of others on my list of stuff to try someday. Her contemporary romance series in progress now lured me in, and I could not resist A Princess in Theory and A Duke by Default with their amazing covers and incredibly fluffy premises. They’re both incredibly fun FYI, so if you haven’t read them yet, the pretty covers do not lie. I didn’t review them on here, but I promise I’m eagerly anticipating the next novella and novel in the series. Obviously all of Alyssa Cole’s other books hopped higher up on my priority list.

Before this book, I was already impressed with Cole’s writing, both from the flufftastic Reluctant Royals series and her short story in Hamilton’s Battalion, which was shippy af and fantastic f/f. You guys, An Extraordinary Union is just as good. In fact, based off my admittedly small sampling, as good as Cole is at contemporary, I prefer her historical romances. It’s rare that I’ll choose the darker stuff over the fluffier, but I make an exception here.

Heroine Elle Burns is such a badass. I love her. She’s incredibly brilliant, fierce, and has one hell of a sharp tongue. There’s very little that’s soft about her personality; she’s intimidating, and she likes it that way. Elle has an eidetic memory, perfect recall of everything she reads or hears, and she decides to risk her life and use that natural skill as a spy for the Loyal League, because she wants to help the North win the war to help her people.

In the plot of An Extraordinary Union, Elle is undercover as a slave in Virginia, working for a Senator’s family and trying to uncover Confederate plans. She meets another spy, a white male, and she hates him instantly. Cole wrestles with the microaggressions as well as the overt racism, like the fact that even the spy network will be more inclined to trust his reports because he’s a white male and she’s a black female, even thought her reports are better detailed and written.

The romance actually is the weakest part of the book for me, though I didn’t mind it. Malcolm and Elle essentially instalove on each other despite Elle trying to hate him initially. They’re both overwhelmed by a powerful physical connection they cannot deny from that first meeting, which doesn’t happen to be a romance trope that particularly works for me. They’re also not all that bantery, which is my personal thing. However, they do make a great team, and I love the way that Elle makes Malcolm realize that, ally though he may be, he hasn’t understood everything about her life.

There’s a lot of drama in this plot, which I ordinarily don’t like, but it works in this particular story for the most part, though I did end up laughing at a climactic moment at the end because there were so many intense things in a row. Because it’s a spy novel set in such dangerous circumstances, the action was needed, and it also made the book’s pacing snappy. One aspect of the plot that I loved is that Elle and Malcolm take turns saving one another. Romance still tends to be more about the hero saving the heroine, but this is how I like my romance. Also, I fucking love that in the end View Spoiler »! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done.

Everyone yelling about Alyssa Cole’s talent was so right. I cannot wait to read more of The Loyal League.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole”

  1. What a perfect time to finish a book!! I loved Elle, she was an amazing main character and I have to say, I was bummed when I found out the sequels were different characters. I know you loved the second book as well so I can’t wait to give it a try.

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