AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION - Alyssa Cole
REVIEWER: Brenda Larnell | RATING: A
REVIEW: *A RIC AWARD OF EXCELLENCE RECIPIENT- Ellen Burns, the heroine of an EXTRAORDINARY UNION is a spy. This fact alone makes for a very interesting feature, but author Alyssa Cole takes it to the max. Not only is Ellen “Elle” Burns a spy, but she is also a free woman of color who is working in the South with one goal in mind-- to destroy the Confederacy. It’s1862 and the Civil War is raging in full force. Elle, has a certain “gift” that makes her an asset to the Northern cause, so she is assigned to a Confederate household in Richmond, Virginia by the leader of the Loyal League. It’s a network of slaves, free men and women, black and white, who send invaluable information North in order to defeat the efforts of those who seek a Southern victory.
As the story opens, Elle’s first solo assignment is to the household of Senator Caffrey, a Southern secessionist. Elle, who pretends to be mute, has her work cut out for her (in more ways than one). The Senator’s daughter, Susie is a force to be reckoned with. Privileged and spoiled beyond measure, she is the epitome of a Southern Belle, and her allegiance lies with the Richmond Vigilance Committee, a local vigilante group of Confederate sympathizers. Elle isn’t the only one on a mission to find out what kind of plans are being made to defeat the Union army headed to Richmond. Under the guise of ‘keeping company with Susie’, Malcolm McCall, undercover Pinkerton Secret Service Detective, seeks to uncover any random correspondence or conversation that reveals the rebels’ plans. It is indeed an “Extraordinary Union” that Elle and Malcolm form as they work together under extraordinary circumstances to undo any nefarious plot to defeat the North. In addition to this, Elle is hesitant to give in to her deepening romantic feelings for Malcolm because of societal taboos. You see, Malcolm is Irish. That fact alone makes for a compelling view of consensual interracial relationships during this period of history. You will find yourself supporting the dangerous, illegal, yet inevitable love connection between the heroine and hero.
There are some strong characters portrayed in this story beside Elle and Malcolm. Susie Caffrey who comes off as the whiny, nasty Southern Belle is deceptively dangerous. Some of the household slaves are masters of the dual persona that they so often had to display to survive. There are a number of characters, situations, and scenes that are historically based to lend credibility to the storyline. As you read AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION, you will discover that this narrative depicts a segment of history with characters who share a connection with real-life historical figures of this time period.
Alyssa Cole has penned a well-written story worthy of the genre African American Historical Romance. I highly recommend it.
19th March 2017 | firstname.lastname@example.org