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 . . .
A freed slave giving up her freedom to spy on the Confederacy and a Pinkerton spy who can appreciate her gifts and ingenuity meet their match. Danger around every turn and a refreshing choice for characters and plot against the Civil War South captured my imagination and kept me riveted.
It’s true that most Civil War romance tends to take place in the drawing rooms and ballrooms and battlefields so I was eager to get a unique ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ take on it. History came alive in this one while paired with suspense and romance.
The heroine is strong and fiery and determined to place herself in an untenable position for her convictions. The same can be said for the hero. She acts a part and so does he. Elle has no reason to trust and every reason to doubt Malcolm. He’s white and she’s black. He plays the role of a Casanova and charmer to gain the trust of the Confederate elite and she acts the part of a mute slave in the household gleaning what intelligence she can.
I enjoyed the tension and the push and pull of such a situation. Elle thinks she has Malcolm pegged because he’s a man and he’s white not understanding that Malcolm understands oppression rightly enough coming of age as a Scot who lived through the Highland Clearances done by the English, but he, too, must learn to grasp just how much he is asking of Elle when he sees the world around them through her eyes. This pair might be attracted and even later want something more, but they face a dim reality that both must understand.
The action and suspense of the plot could be nailbiting at times as both spy on the same group from different angles and have to be cunning and keep from getting caught even while doing their jobs. Oh man, I really came to loathe the family and group they were spying on. I know there were genteel Southerners that are on the opposite end of the spectrum from these beastly types, but whew, this group needed to come to a nasty end particularly the vixen poor Malcolm is forced to pretend to cozy up with.
Incidentally, in her author’s note, the author admits to admiring and being strongly influenced by author, Beverly Jenkins.
Fantastic start to a new series and I can’t wait to see what happens next with more operators in the Loyal League. Those who are looking for strong POC stories set in history with a well-drawn romance and characters against a tension-filled plot should have a go at this one.
Thanks to Kensington Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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