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An Extraordinary Union

(The Loyal League #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  7,122 ratings  ·  1,506 reviews
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 retur
Paperback, 258 pages
Published March 28th 2017 by Kensington
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Marina Mowrey It would, if your book club is OK with sexytimes. It is definitely a romance, but I think there could be some really interesting discussion around thi…moreIt would, if your book club is OK with sexytimes. It is definitely a romance, but I think there could be some really interesting discussion around this book. It doesn't just take place during the civil war; slavery and the war are integral to the characters and their interactions, so there's a lot there. (less)
Ayoola Maybe a suspenseful historical romance? There are definitely some tense scenes.

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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  7,122 ratings  ·  1,506 reviews

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K.J. Charles
Exceptional. A standout example of historical romance as it should be: deeply and solidly grounded in reality, no soft-soaping or viewing the past through Vaseline-smeared lenses, but with a passionate insistence on people's ability to strive for the best in ourselves.

This book is a blast of rage against America's grotesque and obscene history of racism and abuse. Elle, our heroine, is *bloody furious*, and should be. Black and female, she's sidelined and disregarded by damn near everyone, incl
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
"I want to change things here, in my own country, and there's a way that I especially can be helpful." Elle Burns

Many, many, many years ago I started reading one of my grandmother's bodice ripper romances set in the antebellum South. I never finished it. I don't remember what it was called or who the author was, but I do remember throwing the damn book in the trash, after I'd ripped it to shreds. Now, the idea of destroying books wasn't something I was into, and still don't do no matter how cra
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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The first book I ever read by Alyssa Cole was BE NOT AFRAID. Like AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION, BE NOT AFRAID is a Civil War-era historical romance told from an African American perspective. Unlike EXTRAORDINARY, BE NOT is short & wasn't able to utilize its length well. As much as I appreciated reading a fictional account of history from a perspective we need more of, I ended up being disappointed, although I did say that if the author wrote a
I had high hopes going into this one because I love Alyssa Cole, but I wasn't expecting to absolutely love it as much as I did!

When this book started, I absolutely loved Elle's character. She is undercover as a slave to a wealthy family in the south in order to learn secrets for the Union. Elle is so smart, witty, and strong, yet she has to pretend to be mute and take the insults her masters throw her way daily. And can we talk about Malcom!? Because I loved him. I loved how he understood what
Lacey (laceybooklovers)
I think this is the first time I read a historical romance set during the Civil War, but wow I loved this one! Alyssa Cole is such a talented writer. I can't wait to read the rest of the series! ...more
4.5 stars

She was Ellen Burns, and she was going to help destroy the Confederacy.

I'm way late to the party on this one but, oh yes, do I agree with the majority of you all, this is my highest rated book of the year. Our heroine Elle definitely is the stand-out character, the hero Malcolm was very overshadowed in the beginning but began to shine brighter in the middle and end. Working on behalf of the Union in a ring of spies called the Loyal League, Elle is placed in a southern senator's hous
4.5 stars

This is a really good book.

First let me get out of the way that this is a traditional historical romance, complete with loving and sexing and sexing an loving.

But it has more in common with some old skool romances than in hist-roms written more recently in that the author uses the events of the time as actual historical detail -- not just wallpaper history -- to give the story a lot of texture and grounds it in its plot.

In the early days of the Civil War, Elle Burns is a black free wom
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I'm not sure how to describe how I feel about this book but I want to say this first, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!

I read interracial romance story from this era before but not between the Scott born and an ex slave. They couldn't even seen talking, let's alone fall in love, how they can end up loving each other like this and continue to do their detective work?

This book is honest, raw, exciting, harsh, plenty suspense and it will break your heart but a beautiful forbidden love story too.
Deanne Patterson
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure what to expect when I requested this book. I mean this is an interracial couple during the civil war. They can't even be seen talking together let alone any hint of anything more. She is a former slave who trades her freedom for a life of slavery to spy for the Union Army. He is a detective for Pinkerton's Secret Service.She is a spitfire,smart,sassy and goes after what she wants. A steamy forbidden romance filled with espionage romance it will pull you in and not let you go until ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, historical
I received this book from Netgalley for my honest review.

When I requested this book from Netgalley, I thought it would be a usual historical romance with just a black woman as heroine. Boy, was I wrong!!!

This is so much more!!!

I loved the heroine, Elle! She's just plain extraordinary! I loved her strength and courage, her smartness, her incredible mind, her sharp and sometimes snarky remarks! There wasn't anything I would have changed!

In an era when being woman, black and, on top, slave was th
Korrie’s Korner
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“There were only two truths for Malcolm McCall: that the Union must be preserved and that he would love Ellen Burns forever.”

This book will stay with me for a long time. I would love to see this on the big screen. Malcolm & Ellen forever.

This was so thoroughly researched, and written superbly. It was hard in the beginning to picture Malcolm, a Scottish man, falling head over feet in love with a black slave woman, but then I thought—why not? He posed as a Rebel to help the cause. So much action,
Joanna Loves Reading
This story takes place early on in the American Civil War, involving two spies that have found a place in the South to hopefully help the North. Elle is a former slave, who had been freed along with her parents as a child. She has exceptional memory skills that allow her to recall information word for word, having only heard or read once. Her assignment is to spy in a prominent Southern household, playing the slave again. Malcolm is a Scottish immigrant, playing the part of the Confederate soldi ...more
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

This review could easily end up being 6500 words long. I don’t think it will, but holy smokes is there SO MUCH TO SAY.

First, yes, you should absolutely read this book immediately, if you haven’t already. There is so much happening in the conflict within each of the protagonists, between the protagonists, and around them and their allies and enemies, I can’t possibly discuss all of it, but please know: if you are a reader (and why else would you be here,
Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really had no expectations with this novel (either good or bad) so I was happily surprised and caught off guard when I loved it from the beginning.

First, I really enjoyed the historical element of the novel being based during the Civil War. I do not know why but for some reason, I have an interest in that specific time in history. For others who are interested in that period of time, Lynn Austin also has a trilogy that is based during that period. Anyway, back to this novel, although history
DeeTimes' Reading Nook
Alyssa Cole's "An Extraordinary Union" was an exceptional historical romance fiction with all the feels overflowing even with the compact and content of the era...The Civil War. This was Malcom and Elle's extraordinary love story and it was an inspiring one too!!!

If you enjoy historical romance with suspense, well "An Extraordinary Union "is one book I strongly recommend to you because as extraordinary as it was it broke down the ideal that even in that era love didn't have a color. Elle was bl
Lisa (Remarkablylisa)
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: january-2021
Well researched. Well thought out. Two characters who struggle with society pressures and the ongoing mission they both work on. I can understand our heroine's stubbornness because she's black and she knows the judgemental eyes of society. She knows that not everyone treats her equal even if she's a free woman so she really struggles with giving all of herself to a white man. It was a great story about two people who work together to defeat the confederate people. ...more
Apr 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Probably a 2.5 - I rounded up.

I enjoyed the idea of this, but I wanted more excitement and espionage. Malcolm, despite being a hotshot detective for Pinkerton's, seemed to make far too many mistakes. Elle was better but seemed to need to be rescued all the time. It seemed like the book was all about the romance which came out of nowhere and seemed to happen overnight.
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
I'm not a romance reader. While I can appreciate some romance in books, the overall genre's not my cup of tea.

However, when you mix historical fiction with romance and can keep the latter down a bit, I'm excited. Alyssa Cole's story bridges The Civil War with interracial romance, spying, and thrilling heartstrings. Granted, the story inspired eye rolls here and there. Overall, I liked it and recommend this story to those enjoying romance alone and those, like me, that can give or take the genre
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoy it very much. I didn't even know about this series. I think this is a great intro to reading Alyssa Cole. Speaking of her, she really is very skillful in many subs-genres. I know people often rec her royalty series, but THIS book deserves more love!! ...more
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alpha-men, audiobooks
This is the first time That I have red a story by AlyssiaCole. And it definitely will not be my last. This is the very extraordinary love story Of Elle and Malcolm. What makes the story this love story if he will extraordinary is the color of their skins. She was a black woman he was a white man both fighting for the same cause to free slaves. And win the Civil War for the north. Both were spies working for the north when they met. Although Iwas very suspicious Malcolm and FIRST. Because she cou ...more
Addie H
Apr 16, 2021 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
DNF 15%

I can't get past the absolute horrors of the South / the American Civil War and the treatment of people of colour, while at the same time enjoying this as a historical romance. My brain completely crashes and my stomach twists. There is simply now way I can continue, regardless if there is a happy ending.

I'm out.
Brian Johnson
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suleikha Snyder
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt one of the best books of 2017, An Extraordinary Union is a game-changer. This is not a fluffy, vaseline-lens look at the Civl War South, not a plantation fantasy. Alyssa Cole gives us a beautifully angry book with a heroine who blazes with a righteous fury as she spies for the Union and fights her feelings for a Pinkerton detective committed to the same cause.

Elle has thorns, and, oh, how I loved her thorns. A former slave falling for a white man is a predicament layered in pain
Jan 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
I can suspend disbelief about a lot of things, but not about a consensual, romantic, interracial relationship that takes place in the Confederacy during the Civil War. I imagine the author wanted to show a different side of an African American female character, and that's commendable, but for the most part, I read this book with a constant "Nah, man..." running through my head. ...more
Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~
DNF @ 37%

Trite nonsense.

A freed black woman goes south of the Mason-Dixon line to pose as a slave to spy on the Confederates for the Union. A white man of Scottish origin is posing as a Confederate soldier to also get crucial intel for the Union. It's the Civil fricking War. I should be on the edge of my seat while these two risk life and limb to ensure a Union victory and eventually fall in love with each other.

Instead, I was rolling my eyes by about 5% and it only got worse from there. This r
Melanie A. - mostly on hiatus
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, library
This review contains spoilers.

To say that I was looking forward to reading this one would be an understatement . . . but as a reader of romance, I was ultimately disappointed.

That Alyssa Cole is a good writer is not in question.
Man's inhumanity to man wasn't solely regulated by skin color, although it did allow its practitioners to choose their targets more easily.
And if the story had focused on Elle - a very well-crafted, interesting character - and the way she must navigate the e
I liked this book! I did. But I wanted to love it, and I didn't. Ugh, and all the pieces for me loving it were in place! Tensions over class, racial and gender divides. A romance involving characters who logistically will find it difficult to be together (white man/black woman). A badass heroine who does really cool things all while still experiencing the full range of human emotion. The idea that the heroine was black was also appealing, because my favorite genre of romance (historicals) is usu ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A historical romance that read like a historical. The empathy of the writing, the crafting of the characters, the author wrings every drop of emotion she quite possibly can out of this story. I felt like I was there - I felt the fear, I felt the tension, I felt the undeniable (and complicated!) attraction between the hero and heroine. The hero is nicely drawn, but the heroine is who really makes this story - so richly drawn and detailed, so much to lose, the stakes are high for the hero as well, ...more
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A forbidden love set amidst the American civil war is not a light hearted read. It depicts a love story between a black woman and a white man in a nation divided and engaged in one of the most deadliest conflicts to abolish slavery. It's an extraordinary read in everyway, one with an intellectual and an emotional profundity and angst that cannot be found in typical romance novels that line our bookshelves. Highly recommended. ...more
Sam (AMNReader)
3.5 rounded up, though I’m still not totally on board with that rating....

More to come, maybe. Short review? Plot line and story were a 4+ the characters, also a 4+...although a bit tooo perfect. Writing was excellent a felt true and timeless.

Fell flat for me in the romance, although their banter was great it felt a bit underdeveloped..I would’ve liked more tension or maybe just more THEM.
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Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union was the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018, and A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Bust ...more

Other books in the series

The Loyal League (3 books)
  • A Hope Divided (The Loyal League, #2)
  • An Unconditional Freedom (The Loyal League, #3)

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