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An Extraordinary Union

(The Loyal League #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,522 ratings  ·  845 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, 320 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…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)
Akouto Von
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Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,522 ratings  ·  845 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 ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ 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
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
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
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 househ
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
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
*Dee's books!
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
Just A. Bean
I was really excited about this book going in; it seemed like all the things I liked in one place. Romance, spies, the US Civil War! Huzzah!

Unfortunately it sort of managed the Civil War part and the fubbed both the spies and the romance. For me, an adventure romance novel has to balance the plot and the sexual tension so that they work together. This was way to heavy on the romance side, and kept hammering on about how the characters thought constantly of each other, and didn't spend nearly eno
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,
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
Latanya (CraftyScribbles)
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
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
First things first: I think this book is good. It is, however, romance between a black woman posing as a slave and a white man posing as a Confederate war hero. That has the potential to make one uncomfy—it honestly made me uncomfy, in a way—and while I think Alyssa Cole knows that, it’s still there. So. (Additional note: this is not to say this pairing is unrealistic or historically inaccurate.)

Kay, there’s that.

An Extraordinary Union is kind of a tough book for me. For one thing, I definitely
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
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.
Robin Loves Reading
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

An unlikely pair of spies. One a former slave. Another is of Scottish descent. They are both spying for the Union Army. This is especially horrible for Elle Burns because now she once again has to face the indignities of slavery. Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton's Secret Service and he has a very challenging and incredibly dangerous mission - he must infiltrate a rebel outfit in Virginia.

This mission brings both Elle and Malcolm together where they share a common
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
This was my first experience with Alyssa Cole and and the first time reading an HR since the 80s with an AA heroine. Though I cannot confirm the race of writer of the HR that I read in the 80s, I didn't feel that the author herself was Black. This author of this book is and she go it right.

The story itself or the mission for the two spy MCs was really good and a nail-biter, really dangerous spy activity and derring-do. Very well-done.

The story involved the heroine going undercover and posing as
Charlie Anders
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this book from Alyssa Cole at BookRiot Live, and it's fantastic. I hadn't read a lot of romance lately, and this felt like a breath of fresh air. The romance between two spies is automatically a brilliant setup -- especially with one of them undercover as a slave and the other as a Confederate soldier -- but the fact that they build a relationship based on mutual respect is a major plus. A romance novel set during an ugly, horrible time in our history m ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I trust your judgment,” he said as he settled in to write.
“Oh, thank you. While that is kind of you, I don’t have quite the same need for your approval that you have for mine.”

... when you want to stop reading for a moment just so you can slow clap because the heroine is the bomb. The hero is not too shabby, no worries there, but Elle was definitely the star for me. Anyway. Some of the sexytimes descriptions I could honestly take or leave. BUT Alyssa Cole definitely has my attention. I w
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.
Heather❀Book and a Blanket❀
This was an amazing love story set in the midst of the Civil War. This interracial romance was forbidden with lots of action, adventure and espionage. The history and approach to slavery was done very well and complemented the love formed between this couple during a time of hatred. There is also a hint of feminism with a seriously strong kick ass heroine that held her head high despite the assumptions of inferiority due to her race and sex. Strongly recommend for all romance readers.
Taryn Pierson
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You know how some romance novelists try to convince you their heroine is strong, when all she really is is loud and opinionated? Well, Alyssa Cole knows what real strength is, and her character Elle Burns is way more than outspoken when it comes to her fight against slavery. She’s a spy for the Loyal League, posing as a slave in a Southern household and making use of her preternatural memory to glean information to help the Union cause.

When she first meets Malcolm McCall, he’s in disguise as a S
Cecily Walker
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.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Can I just start by saying, "wow".

Okay, now that that is out of my system, I very, very, VERY much enjoyed this story! I was wary to dive into the book at first knowing it's touching on slavery but good lord once I started reading, it was really hard to stop and if I didn't like eating every day I would have read it all in one sitting! This is a new to me author and Alyssa Cole did not disappoint on any level for me right now!

So, here we go. The story centers around the Civil War when you had Co
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved! Loved! Loved this book! It is so nice to see people of color in Historical Romance. I'm so happy we have authors like Alyssa Cole and Beverly Jenkins writing these stories. Elle Burns is a former slave risking her freedom to help the Union Army who meets and falls for Malcolm McCall, a detective who risks his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia. The two of them join forces to discover a plot by the Confederate's to gain the advantage over the Union but discover an undeniable at ...more
Mandi Schreiner
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Favorite Quote: “That we are, my sweet Elle.” He ran his knuckles over her jawline.

“Sweet?” I should have killed you when I had the chance,” she said. She snuggled closer to him.

I really enjoyed everything about this book. It takes a difficult subject and doesn’t hold back in showing us the horrific injustices slaves and freed slaves faced during the civil war, all while giving us a beautiful, swoony romance.

Elle is a freed slave who has a photographic memory. She can remember every sentence she
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
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Alyssa Cole is a science editor, pop culture nerd, and romance junkie who splits her time between fast-paced NYC and island-paced life in the Caribbean.

In addition to writing, she has hosted a romance book club and taught romance writing at the Jefferson Market Library in NYC. When she’s not busy writing, traveling, and learning French, she can be found watching cat videos on the Internet with he

Other books in the series

The Loyal League (3 books)
  • A Hope Divided (The Loyal League #2)
  • An Unconditional Freedom (The Loyal League, #3)
“Don’t you see?” she asked. “This is our homeland, too. We shouldn’t have to wreak havoc on the land to be seen as citizens! We shouldn’t have to.” 3 likes
“This misplaced nationalism was another kind of corrupted love, and it was just as unpalatable.” 2 likes
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