blogmas · Book Tag

Blogmas Day #18 – Book beginnings weekly meme

Welcome to day 18 of blogmas lovelies!

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Gilion @Rose City Reader. The idea is to share the beginning of a book.

You pick up a book and read the first few sentences. Will it hook you straight away? Does it have significant meaning that will be revealed later? Good. Book. Beginnings. Are. Crucial.

Title: An Extraordinary Union

Author: Alyssa Cole

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 returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.

Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.

Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . . . (Goodreads)


April 1861

Baltimore, Maryland

“It will be an easy assignment, a simple passing on of information. One that even a girl such as yourself should be able to handle.” Elle suppressed a bitter laugh as she recalled her Loyal League master LaValle’s briefing from a few days before.


Either her superior had dreadfully underestimated the Southern male’s love of an opportunity to do violence, or he’d purposely set her in the middle of danger.

I have to begin this post by saying that this was one of my favorite books of the year. I think I will do a reread soon because I can’t get this out of my head; and that is telling because I usually don’t reread books.

I knew when I read these lines “Either her superior had dreadfully underestimated the Southern male’s love of an opportunity to do violence, or he’d purposely set her in the middle of danger.” that this book would ruin me. I think the plot is incredibly unique and I love seeing Black main characters in historical fiction. The characters are spies so the anticipation and adrenaline kept me on the edge of my seat every page. I liked the whole forbidden love trope and the complicated aspects of the interracial relationship especially during the civil War. The book is full of wit and sarcasm and I love Elle more than anything. She’s an amazing female character. This book tackles so many stereotypes from both sides and treats them brilliantly.

I initially gave this book 3 stars because it was more triggering than I thought in terms of racism and slavery but I decided to give it five stars a few months later because I couldn’t get it out of my head. Also now that I know what happens, I don’t think I will be as stressed as I was when I first read it. Anyway these first lines are crucial in terms of plot and you can see just how good and subversive the author’s writing style is. I highly recommend this book!

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