Reviews

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

roseybot's review against another edition

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4.0

3.5 but I round up.

So basically my feelings on this book are very mixed.

On the one hand heroine of color! Historical romance! Spies!

On the other, I felt the melding of the plots wasn't done very well. Overall I felt like there were some structural issues that hampered my enjoyment. This was also present in Let Us Dream: adding in these secondary plot lines that did not feel connected to the love story.

Also I don't think Civil War stories are my thing in romance -- you end up hating so many people that it's tough swinging back into loving the focus couple.

yamsmarketplace's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional hopeful tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.25

geo_ix's review against another edition

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3.0

3.5 stars.

I enjoyed reading this. I didn’t love it, but I still had a great time reading it.

Maybe I wasn’t in the mood to love this, but I just needed a little more for that to happen. I didn’t always care for the characters or their romance. Perhaps I built this up so much from recommendations that it just didn’t live up to what was in my head. I don’t know.

reading_meg's review against another edition

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4.0

- I really really enjoyed this!! I've also read Cole's Reluctant Royals series, and I loved seeing her humor and swoon-worthy relationships came through in this one too! 
-I was really impressed at how she was able to balance that with the intensity of the setting (the South during the Civil War). 
- The spies aspect of this was so well done-I especially loved the scenes where Elle was really able to break through aspects of her childhood. 
- Elle's whole background was so interesting and well done-I loved how her character developed throughout her whole story!
- Hearing Elle's rage, especially while undercover, was so powerful. It really made her hesitance with Malcolm make so much sense (and create so much angst-which Cole is excellent at!)

ashleyreadsanything's review

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adventurous dark funny tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.5

dkragick's review

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1.0

So we usually discuss who, in the book, we'd like to smack upside the head. I'm leaning toward whoever suggested it. I am definitely not the target audience, but that aside, the author needs to find a voice. The random drops of perceived authentic terminology mixed with attempted Scottish dialect and romance/porn made my head spin. I read a LOT of it out loud to my kids and husband because it was so. incredibly. ridiculous. So much tenting. So little substance.

theteaisaddictive's review

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adventurous challenging emotional hopeful informative inspiring mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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youshouldreadthisif's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

I couldn’t possibly enumerate all the things I love about this book in an insta post. So I’m gonna focus on one particular aspect that hit extra hard for me. 
 
Romance is no stranger to power imbalance. Class differences, age gap, and, often, workplace romance are but a few tropes that rest on the assumption of a power differential between partners. And power is a necessary topic for the genre to explore because it has important implications for romantic, as well as other kinds of intimate, relationships. 
 
And we get so much incredible discussion of the power dynamics between a Black woman and a white man during the Civil War. Alyssa Cole really said “I see your power differential, and I raise you multiple, explicit acknowledgements/considerations of said dynamic because an impediment this big can’t be solved in a single conversation.” 
 
And I said “I SEE YOU, MS. COLE!!!” Because it’s so, so good. There is so much consideration of the all-too-real barriers to even the *idea* of a relationship between Malcolm and Elle. Forbidden romance that is truly, truly forbidden, to the point that Elle once calls Malcolm her enemy because he’s a white man, even though he’s a Union spy. And that dynamic will always haunt their relationship. It is for this reason that I absolutely ADORE that Cole has Elle say no to Malcolm's pursuit so many times. The notion of a forbidden relationship is not sexy here, and at no point is it minimized. It is terrifying, and it is literally life-threatening. A less-skilled author would’ve traded some of that (non-sexual) tension to further the romantic development. 
 
I also appreciate the many ways in which Cole explores and addresses the power dynamic. There are some of the more obvious conversations, where Elle swats downs Malcolm’s flirtations with some hard lessons. And Malcolm, being not an idiot, does understand his position relative to Elle’s and gains deeper understanding over the course of the book, though both he and the reader know that his grasp of her lived experience will never be complete. 
 
But I also loved how Cole probes the dynamic in smaller ways, one of my favorite being during a sex scene after Elle has been injured. She wants the comfort of physical intimacy, though Malcolm is hesitant. Elle wonders “if he would value his opinion of her condition over her own needs” and WHEN I TELL YOU I CLAPPED AT THIS MOMENT!!! So many romances take away the injured party’s (often a woman) agency in situations like this, and I loved loved LOVED that Cole wrote this scene the way that she did. Genius, I tell you! 

brianaisgoingplaces's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging hopeful reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.5

I think it's pretty tough to write a romance of the Civil War and make it interracial on top of all the factors against it, but I think it was tackled well. Even though I was stressed, I liked the book. However, it did not allow me to escape the realities of the world which is what I appreciate in romance. If anything it reminded me we have quite a ways to go. 

3.5 rounded to 4

fionagerman's review

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I think I will do better reading this rather than listening