I liked this book! I did. But I wanted to love it, and I didn’t. Ugh, and all the pieces for me loving it were in place! Tensions over class, racial and gender divides. A romance involving characters who logistically will find it difficult to be together (white man/black woman). A badass heroine who does really cool things all while still experiencing the full range of human emotion. The idea that the heroine was black was also appealing, because my favorite genre of romance (historicals) is usually exceedingly white (both in authorship and in the characters). But this didn’t quite come together for me, and it’s mostly in the romance itself that I find I’m dissatisfied.
I loved the heroine, Elle, on her own. Like I mentioned previously: badass. She’s a former slave who returned voluntarily to slavery in order to spy for the Union Army during the Civil War. She has an eidetic memory that she uses to great effect, and she isn’t afraid to put herself in uncomfortable situations to do what needs to be done. She’s also smart as hell.
Malcolm was okay on his own, I guess. I mean, he’s alright. But it’s been a while since I finished the book, and I honestly don’t remember much about him, other than I thought his chemistry with Elle was forced. That’s really my main issue here. Their romance didn’t seem organic at all to me. Moments which could have felt natural felt constructed and awkward, and I don’t much like to use this term, but it really a lot like instalove. They just see each other once and immediately for both of them, it’s, I gotta get in them pants. No slow burn about any of this, just jumping right into the sexytimes and sorting out the getting to know you later. I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on it. It just didn’t really work for me. By the end, I was a little more invested in their pairing, but mostly it was just a quick, fun read that I wasn’t able to get really invested in. I’m going to read the next book in the series, though, and hopefully this turns out to be a case of wrong book for me, instead of wrong author for me.