Alyssa Cole's An Extraordinary Union
First, I will confess that a biracial romance set during the Civil War instantly made me nervous, especially since our heroine is under cover as a slave. So much could have gone wrong, and the reason I trusted it wouldn't was because of Cole.
Second, all my anxieties were for naught: this book was freakin' awesome.
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
Copy from library
Historical Fiction and Read Harder challenges
Ellen, a former slave, has returned to the South and a life of servitude in service of Pres. Abraham and freedom. A spy with Pinkerton's group, she's been placed in the household of a high level Confederate, using her wits and eidetic memory to aid the Union.
Malcolm McCall is a Pinkerton too, pretending to be a good Confederate officer. Somehow, impossibly, Cole managed to make this set up not squicky; she gets into the power dynamics (and lack thereof) and gives Ellen multiple opportunities to exert her agency and self-determination. It's pretty obvious Ellen is truly kick-ass and our hero (and this reader) were pretty much smitten from the start.
The romance was super hot, the attraction electric, and best of all, the main plot line (or, I suppose, secondary plot line to the romance) was super exciting and as interesting as the romance. Many elements of the story are based on true events or figures, which made it even more interesting to read.
At this point, pretty much all the best reads of 2019 are thanks to Book Riot's Read Harder challenge. Although this task -- a historical romance by an author of color -- was a gimme for me -- I've been dying to read Alyssa Cole and now I had double reason to do so. I'm glad I'm knocking out reading challenge goals and being wildly, swoonily entertained!