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An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League#1) by Alyssa Cole

An Extraordinary UnionElle 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.



18 comments on “An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League#1) by Alyssa Cole

  1. Ali (@thebandarblog)
    April 22, 2017

    When I first read this sentence, “Elle is a former African- American slave who works as a spy.” I read “Elle is a former African- American,” and I was like DAFUQ? I felt better about things when I read the rest of the sentence. I’m glad you enjoyed the story even if the romance wasn’t quite your thing!

    • Diana
      April 22, 2017

      I’ve edited the sentence.Didn’t know how to put it and wasn’t sure if there are slaves of other ethnicities…anyway,I think it reads better now.Thanks.Yeah this was a good read despite the romance 🙂

      • Ali (@thebandarblog)
        April 23, 2017

        Haha, you didn’t have to edit it! It was totally fine – my brain just jumped to somethign stupid! XD I wasn’t trying to “correct” you, I was just trying to point how how dumb my brain was!

  2. Yvo
    April 22, 2017

    Great review! I think the romance would have put me off as well, but the rest of the story sounds really good. I’m glad you were still able to enjoy it!

    • Diana
      April 24, 2017

      Thank you Yvo. The setting, characters and the rest of the story-line made it a good read despite the romance 🙂

    • Grab the Lapels
      April 26, 2017

      I almost wonder if the historical aspects are twisted just a bit to make the story emphasize the romance. I’ve read a few historical fiction novels lately that are basically romances with a few rules from the former time period that get broken a lot anyway. Oh, and rapiers and fancy dresses!

  3. Charlotte Graham
    April 23, 2017

    Awesome review! This sounds like a fascinating and entertaining historical fiction.

    • Diana
      April 24, 2017

      It really was. I am just getting into historical fiction and enjoying the genre so far:-)

  4. faithrivens
    April 23, 2017

    I’m interested in this one, but I’m worried the romance will turn me off too. I prefer my relationships to be subtle too 🙂

    • Diana
      April 24, 2017

      I get what you mean. The romance in this one is definitely a huge part so I think readers of historical romance will enjoy it more. However, the rest of the story is good so it makes the book worth checking out 🙂

  5. Annie
    April 23, 2017

    I like interracial relationships! So yeah, it’s not the typical, although I agree with you about the romance being a big part of the story

    • Diana
      April 24, 2017

      The relationship and especially during he era of slavery is what makes his romance unique./ I wish the book had more stuff about the union and undercover assignments though instead of the romance.

  6. Analee @ Book Snacks
    April 24, 2017

    I’m glad you liked this! Elle sounds like a great character and although I don’t usually read historical fiction, I am open to trying it! Lovely review. 😊

    • Diana
      April 25, 2017

      Thank you Analee and yes Elle was an amazing, strong protagonist. If you are ever in the mood for historical fiction then yeah, give this one a try 🙂

  7. Great review, Diana! I was hooked the whole way through. I’m also disappointed in the romance aspect. Not because I have anything against interracial relationships, but because I feel a strong book like this (intrigue! character development! plot! suspense!) doesn’t *need* this added on top of it. Was this relationship something the author found from her real historical figures?

    I love historical fiction, though, so I will probably pick this up. Great review!

    • Diana
      April 25, 2017

      Interestingly, although the characters were inspired by real people, the romance was fictitious. I have done a little research about the two characters and its true that there are so many similarities between them and Elle and Malcolm but there was no mention of the two ever meeting in real life. I guess the author went to historical romance hence the inclusion of this bit.

      I am glad to hear that you may consider it. Thank you 🙂

  8. Pingback: April Warp-up (May TBR) | A Haven for Book Lovers

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2017 by in Book Review, Bookish Post and tagged , , .
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