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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 . . .
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole introduces readers to an outstanding female protagonist. Elle is a former slave who works as a spy. On the other hand, Malcolm is Scottish and also a spy. The two work for the union that is trying to bring establishment of slavery. The story begins with both of them working undercover when they end up on the same mission.
Elle stood out because of her bravery and skills. She had an eidetic memory which made her a great spy. Her work was to collect intel for the union. She could fit in different situations and blend in effectively. Her undercover assignment meant that she had to work as a mute slave. I can’t imagine what its like to be in such a sensitive assignment where you are treated poorly but have to act mue so you never say anything. Elle is portrayed as smart and confident. On the other hand, Malcolm is working undercover as confederate soldier. At a time when cordial racial relations were almost non-existent, Malcolm was different. He treated everyone equally. He was charming in everyway. As you can see, the author did a great job of creating two very likeable characters. In addition, I was pleasantly surprised when I read the author’s note at the end of the book and found out that the main characters were inspired by real-life historical figures. Elle was inspired by Mary Bowser and Malcolm by Timothy Webster.
Well not everyone in the story was likeable. There were a number of bad guys but the antagonist, Susie, takes the crown. She was just despicable although I admit that I enjoyed reading about her. Her drama added to the conflict and intrigue of the story.
The book is filled with drama and action. Working undercover is risky and I was constantly worried about the MCs covers being blown. Their union was even riskier and I couldn’t imagine how society would have reacted if they had been found out. The book has enough twists and suspense to make it quite an enjoyable read. The setting and time period was also interesting although sad for the most part. The author does a great job of portraying the different aspects of the era. If you are interested in American History, I think you will like this book.
My only issue with this book was the romance. I am not a fan of romance though I don’t mind if it is subtly incorporated into a story. In this case, the romance was a huge part of the story. I think the only reason that it didn’t totally put me off was that this was no ordinary romance. A black woman dating a white man in the south at that time was not just frowned upon. It was a risky affair that endangered the couple. The couple being so likeable made it easy to root for them. If you like historical romance then this will work out great for you. I recommend this book to all fans of this genre.