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An Extraordinary Union (2017)

av Alyssa Cole

Serier: The Loyal League (1)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4903750,545 (3.91)29
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.… (mer)
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*4.5 ( )
  Fortunesdearest | Feb 1, 2024 |
I mostly liked this.

I LOVE the idea about a spies falling in love during the Civil War but the flaw was that they had minimal interaction because of their spy roles and yet still fell madly in love. Hmmm. I would have appreciated more scenes with them together before they were all in. Still, it was filled with excitement and adventure on top of the romance so that’s good and different.

I learned after finishing that Elle is based on a real woman - super cool!

Looking forward to the next one (also based on a real person). ( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
Us Americans have been taught about the Civil War since we were children. My school district growing up required teachers to teach about slavery and its impact. However, none of those lessons ever got to the nitty gritty of living with slavery every day and the types of people who endured, perpetuated it, or fought it. Here, in the first book of Cole's Loyal League series, we see a brilliant heroine inspired by history take slavery head on all in the name of Freedom for her people.

An Extraordinary Union is an inspirational story. The world is alive in all its horror, and Cole does not shrink from showcasing the horrors of slavery (though they're relatively tame in this book compared to the later books in the series). All of her characters are nuanced, from spoiled Susie to Tom the cook who stays behind for his own reasons while everyone else is making a run for it. The plot is suspenseful and has good pacing. I will say it felt a little thin at times. I think it would've been stronger if Cole had written a straight historical fiction novel. It almost felt like she wanted to go that route, but the romance kept getting in the way.

I rated this book 3 stars because I had a hard time buying the romance. Malcolm McCall was just kind of there. His actions rarely moved the plot forward. For someone who is supposed to be one of the most brilliant detectives Pinkerton's employs, he had a tendency to misread a lot of people and situations that put both him and Elle in danger. Most of the time, he functioned as a sort of self-insert for the non-black reader when Elle would lecture him about racism. Her points were valid and accurate. They just felt a bit pedantic to me, probably because Malcolm's response was almost always to apologize but rarely followed it up with anything more substantial. Yet, he was also the only character driving the romance forward. Due to the danger of Elle's situation, she rarely initiated romantic advances with Malcolm. She mostly just accepted them. This is why I think the book would've worked better as regular historical fiction rather than romance. The little romance there was would have sufficed, but the espionage plot could've been fleshed out more, making the story stronger overall.

Because this book was filled with lots of insta-love, a lackluster hero who's sole purpose was to receive lessons in racism and moon over the heroine, it didn't really hit the mark for me as a romance. It's still an engaging novel, and I'll definitely finish the series, but this didn't match my expectations, unfortunately. ( )
  readerbug2 | Nov 16, 2023 |
Malcolm and Elle were the best! They really touched my heart.

This takes place back during the Civil War. Elle was an ex slave with an eidetic memory who ended up working as a spy for the Union. She went undercover as a slave in a senator's house to steal intel to funnel back to her spy organization. She runs into another spy, Malcolm, who was undercover as a confederate soldier. There's an immediate draw to each other but both realize that the reality of their circumstances might be too much to overcome. However, the more they continue to work together to stop the south in the war, the closer they get.

I really liked this story. There was romance. There was intrigue. Excitement. And great historical content. I really fell for these two characters and loved their story. I can't wait to read more in this series. ( )
  NickyM96 | Nov 21, 2022 |
I'm so glad I finally picked up a book by Alyssa Cole! I really enjoyed this book. I feel like writing a romance during a war must be really difficult because it's obviously a time filled with tragedy and I think this is especially true for a war like the American civil war. I think Cole did an excellent job centering the tragedy of the war and the wars cause, slavery, which still creating a wonderful romance.

Our two mains are Elle and Malcolm. They are both spies for the Union working the in the South. I love a good spy story and I thought that was pretty well done here. The whole book is centered around this idea but there weren't too many scenes that were just about spying so don't go in looking for that. I didn't mind this because their relationship was compelling on it's own. I thought Cole did a good job illustrating the conflict Elle would feel about entering a relationship with a white man in this time. I did feel like the start of the relationship was a bit sudden but most of the development seemed very natural.
I really enjoyed Malcolm as well. He is very understanding of what Elle is feeling while still realizing that he can't fully understand her experience because he has never been a slave. I liked learning about his background and his family and I liked he used that background as a way to try to understand Elle better.
I really liked Elle and Malcolm as a couple. Even though they came from very different backgrounds, they worked together really well. Malcolm seems to be quite taken with Elle from the very first time he meets here which might seem a bit fast to some people but I didn't mind this because nothing happens immediately. Aside from a few moments where the relationship seemed to develop a little more rapidly, I thought the progression was natural and showed the respect Malcolm had for Elle.

There was less plot than I was expecting but there is definitely a lot there. It picked up a lot at the end but the characters are spying throughout. I would have loved to have seen a bit more spy stuff but this book isn't that long an since this is a romance it obviously focused on that. I enjoyed all the plot with the other members of the household Elle was pretending to be a slave in. It was very dramatic, especially at the end and while nothing really surprised me, I really enjoyed it.

I own the next book in this series and the third book is on KU so hopefully I can read the rest really soon. I have a couple of things I want to read in between but I think I'll get to the next two books very soon. ( )
  AKBouterse | Oct 14, 2021 |
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For Isabell, the last enslaved person and the first emancipated person in my family's history
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"It will be an easy assignment, a simple passing on of information. One that even a girl such as yourself should be able to handle."
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The following is a selection of the books used to research this novel:

Brock, Sallie A. Richmond during the War. New York: G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Boston: The Anti Slavery Office, 1845.

Jordan, Robert Paul. The Civil War. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1969.

Lause, Mark A. A Secret Society History of the Civil War. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2011.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Pinkerton, Allan. The Spy of the Rebellion: being a true history of the spy system of the United States Army during the late rebellion, revealing many secrets of the war hitherto not made public. New York: G. W. Carleton & Co., 1883.

Pratt, Fletcher. The Civil War in Pictures. Garden City, NY: Garden City Books, 1955.

Van Doren Stern, Philip. Secret Missions of the Civil War. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1959.
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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.

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