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August 2018: Espionage > An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole- 3 Stars

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message 1: by Hayjay315 (new)

Hayjay315 | 251 comments Set against the backdrop of the Civil War An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole focuses on two agents who join forces to help the Union prevail.

Elle Burns, a freed slave residing in Massachusetts who possesses the gift of an eidetic memory is recruited by the Union Army to join a spy ring called the Loyal League. She becomes placed in the employ of a leading Senator from Virginia and uses her position to gather intel on the South’s plans.

Malcolm McCall is a Pinkerton agent posing as an escaped Rebel soldier from Maryland. His mission is to infiltrate an influential band of Rebels in Virginia and discover their plans before they can be carried out.

As they each set about fulfilling their missions they uncover not only a momentous plot from the South which, if successfully carried out could turn the advantage in their favor, but their feelings for each other. The majority of the book is spent on Elle’s and Malcolm’s relationship and their thoughts and emotions on how they process through their attraction for each other in the midst of the social order they are expected to follow. The most exciting spying action doesn’t occur until halfway through the book.

The setting of this book is what drew me to choose it for my read this month as I am unfamiliar with the spying that occurred during this timeframe. The book is categorized as historical romance so going in I knew there would be an element of building the relationship of the main characters but did not expect it to take up so much of the story. For me, there was not enough espionage and too much focus on the sexual tension between the two characters which resulted in the 3 star rating it got.

I did appreciate learning in the Author’s Note that some of the main characters were based on real life people; Mary Bowser, Timothy Webster and Robert Smalls.


message 2: by Karin (new)

Karin | 7463 comments That's too bad--I'd have felt the same way about the strong emphasis on the romance at the expense of the spying.


message 3: by Hebah (new)

Hebah (quietdissident) | 675 comments To be fair, it is first and foremost a romance, so that's going to be the emphasis for its primary audience...

I've got this on my list for this month, ironically, because I think the romance will make the espionage palatable for me.


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