cover image An Extraordinary Union: The Loyal League, Book 1

An Extraordinary Union: The Loyal League, Book 1

Alyssa Cole. Kensington, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4967-0744-4

Opening a series set in the Civil War era, Cole (Mixed Signals) hits all the right notes in this smartly written espionage romance brimming with vivid characterization, heartfelt dialogue, and sensual sweetness. Ellen “Elle” Burns, a sassy freedwoman, and Malcolm McCall, a charming immigrant from Scotland, are both spies committed to using their skills to defeat the Confederacy. Their collaboration is complicated by the sizzling chemistry between them. Elle has given up her freedom to pose as a mute slave in an influential Confederate household, as her photographic memory lets her retain confidential information after just a glance. In the same household, Malcolm claims to be a Confederate soldier, hoping to endear himself to Confederate officials. Their closeness leads to genuine mutual understanding of their private selves and a satisfying intimate relationship. But Elle knows the perils of an interracial romance, and she struggles to trust a man who lies so glibly. Despite their ability to work seamlessly together and their growing belief in a shared future, a risky plan to secure vital information goes awry, threatening the success of the mission—and their lives. Cole’s sparkling gem of a romance portrays love at its most practical and sublime; she writes with lyricism, intelligence, and historical accuracy. This fascinating novel is a most welcome addition to the historical romance genre. (Apr.)