Goodreads Monday (5/22/17): An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To participate, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners and add your own links! 

My choice today is An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League #1) by Alyssa Cole.

BLURB: 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 . 

ADD TO GOODREADS 

Isn’t that cover beautiful? Alyssa Cole is an author I met at RT 16 in Las Vegas. She was so nice that I told myself when I see an audiobook by her, I’ll snag it. That I’ve done and I can’t wait to listen to it.  This choice is a historical fiction which I enjoy and it is also a series. I will add a review as soon as I’m done. Have you read anything by Alyssa Cole?

What are you reading today from your Goodreads TBR shelf? 

Release Day Blitz: Seized by Seduction (The Protectors #2) by Brenda Jackson

Series:
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Source: Social Butterfly PR

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Seized by Seduction, an all-new sexy standalone from Brenda Jackson is now LIVE!!!

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Seized by Seduction by Brenda Jackson
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance

One glance is all it takes

From the moment his eyes meet hers across the crime-scene tape, ex-con turned bodyguard Quasar Patterson knows he has to see the mysterious Dr. Randi Fuller again. She’s a renowned psychic investigator who can foresee danger for others, but not for herself. That makes Quasar doubly determined to watch over her—the closer, the better—as she’s drawn into a dangerous gang rivalry.

Both her psychic gift and their blinding chemistry tell Randi that she and Quasar are fated to be entwined. Even as they surrender to the heat between them, there’s no guarantee of a happily-ever-after now that an enemy has her in his sights. And claiming a future will take more than Quasar’s strength and skill. If he can’t risk the heart he’s always held in check, they’ll both lose for good…

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About the Author

Brenda Jackson, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of over 100 novels and novellas, was born in Jacksonville, Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Jacksonville University. She married her high school sweetheart, Gerald, and they have two sons, Gerald Jr. and Brandon, ages thirty-six and thirty-four, respectively. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Her professional writing career began in 1995 with the release of her first book, Tonight and Forever. Since then she has written over 100 titles, which includes a made-for-television movie by BET, One Special Moment as well as the movie, Truly Everlasting. She was a 2012 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Fiction for her book, A Silken Thread; and was named Romance Writers of America’s Nora Robert’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for 2012.

BRENDA-IN-RED

If you would like to know more about Brenda Jackson, follow her here:

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About Brenda Jackson

Brenda Jackson, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of over 100 novels and novellas, was born in Jacksonville, Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Jacksonville University. She married her high school sweetheart, Gerald, and they have two sons, Gerald Jr. and Brandon, ages thirty-six and thirty-four, respectively. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Her professional writing career began in 1995 with the release of her first book, Tonight and Forever. Since then she has written over 100 titles, which includes a made-for-television movie by BET, One Special Moment as well as the movie, Truly Everlasting. She was a 2012 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Fiction for her book, A Silken Thread; and was named Romance Writers of America’s Nora Robert’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for 2012.

Release Blitz: Forged in Desire by Brenda Jackson

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Forged in Desire, an all-new sexy standalone from Brenda Jackson is live!!!

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Forged in Desire by Brenda Jackson
Publication Date: January 31st, 2017
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Strong enough to protect her. Bold enough to love her.

When good girl Margo Connelly becomes Lamar “Striker” Jennings’s latest assignment, she knows she’s in trouble. And not just because he’s been hired to protect her from an underworld criminal. The reformed bad boy’s appeal is breaching all her defenses, and as the threats against her increase, Margo isn’t sure which is more dangerous: the gangster targeting her, or the far too alluring protector tempting her to let loose.

Though Striker’s now living on the right side of the law, he’s convinced his troubled past keeps Margo out of his league. But physical chemistry explodes into full-blown passion when they go on the run together. Surrendering to desire could be a deadly distraction—or finally prove that he’s the only man qualified to keep her safe, and win her love.

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About the Author

Brenda Jackson, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of over 100 novels and novellas, was born in Jacksonville, Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Jacksonville University. She married her high school sweetheart, Gerald, and they have two sons, Gerald Jr. and Brandon, ages thirty-six and thirty-four, respectively. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Her professional writing career began in 1995 with the release of her first book, Tonight and Forever. Since then she has written over 100 titles, which includes a made-for-television movie by BET, One Special Moment as well as the movie, Truly Everlasting. She was a 2012 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Fiction for her book, A Silken Thread; and was named Romance Writers of America’s Nora Robert’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for 2012.

brenda-in-red

If you would like to know more about Brenda Jackson, follow her here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaJacksonAuthor/

Twitter: @AuthorBJackson

Website: http://www.brendajackson.net

Stay up to date on Brenda’s latest news! Subscribe to her Newsletter today!

Sign up here: https://goo.gl/RkCqCn

About Brenda Jackson

Brenda Jackson, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of over 100 novels and novellas, was born in Jacksonville, Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Jacksonville University. She married her high school sweetheart, Gerald, and they have two sons, Gerald Jr. and Brandon, ages thirty-six and thirty-four, respectively. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Her professional writing career began in 1995 with the release of her first book, Tonight and Forever. Since then she has written over 100 titles, which includes a made-for-television movie by BET, One Special Moment as well as the movie, Truly Everlasting. She was a 2012 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Fiction for her book, A Silken Thread; and was named Romance Writers of America’s Nora Robert’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for 2012.

Audiobook Review: Touched with Fire (The Fire Trilogy #1) by Christopher Datta

Audiobook Review: Touched with Fire (The Fire Trilogy #1) by Christopher DattaSeries:
Narrator: Hugh Harper
Source: Novel Publicity

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Touched with Fire by Christopher Datta
Series: The Fire Trilogy, #1
Release Date: December 07, 2016
Pages: • Format: 11 hrs and 12 mins (Audiobook)
Published By: Christopher Datta
Purchase Links:   Amazon USBarnes & NobleAudible

Ellen Craft is property; in this case, of her half-sister Debra, to whom she was given as a wedding gift. The illegitimate daughter of a Georgia plantation owner and a house slave, she learned to hate her own image, which so closely resembled that of her “father”: the same wiry build, the same blue eyes, and the same pale – indeed, lily-white – skin. Ellen lives a solitary life until she falls, unexpectedly, in love with a dark-skinned slave named William Craft, and together they devise a plan to run north. Ellie will pose as a gentleman planter bound for Philadelphia accompanied by his “boy” Will. They make it as far as Baltimore when Will is turned back, and Ellie has no choice but continue. With no way of knowing if he is dead or alive, she resolves to make a second journey – south again. And so Elijah Craft enlists with the 125th Ohio Volunteers of the Union Army: she will literally fight her way back to her husband.

Eli/Ellie’s journey is the story of an extraordinary individual and an abiding love, but also of the corrosive effects of slavery, and of a nation at a watershed moment.

three-stars
I have mixed feelings about this audiobook. I am so glad the author took on the story of Ellie Craft and weaved an incredible story of heroism. But that is also part of the problem for me, parts of it were just that, unbelievable. The first part of this book was focused on Ellie as a young slave girl trying to navigate and come to terms with where she fit in with her family and community. The second part of the book was so heavy on war facts. I didn’t quite enjoy the second part as much because I couldn’t buy Ellie as union soldier hiding in plain sight so to speak. The narrator’s voice was okay but the singing parts grated my nerves.

I found the author’s writing to be basic and rough in the beginning, but in the second part of the story, the author found his groove. In addition, the characters in this story under developed and too one dimensional. even Ellie. The slaves, Ellie’s sister, even Ellie’s actions were either black and white (pun aside). The slaves, Ellie’s sister, even Ellie’s actions were either black and white (pun aside). I found the transitions from scene to scene to be uneven. It just didn’t flow smoothly. It got better later in the book.

Ellen was born a “quadroon”, one quarter black and three quarters white. Ellie was born to a half white slave woman who was raped by her owner. The result was that Elle looked white, a fact that made clear her parentage. For most of her young life, Ellie felt angry that she wasn’t acknowledge by her father as his daughter, even though she knew she was a product of rape. Ellie was also angry at her half-sister for treating her like help, and not recognizing her as her sister and perhaps equal. It just doesn’t compute with what we know of slave paternity issues back then. If you were born of a slave, it doesn’t matter if you have white, you were still a slave and almost never acknowledged. The internal musings of why her father didn’t accept or acknowledge her as his own painted Elle as a child who saw herself as more than a slave. This also supports the other slaves claim that Ellie was uppity and thought she was better. Ellie never bothered to deny these assertions, thus incurred the scorn of the other slaves. So, for the first part of her life, Ellie didn’t see herself as a black slave.

When Ellie was barely a young adult, she had a violent encounter with the creepy Reverend. She began espousing views on her blackness that come out of nowhere to me. But this is part of the story I enjoyed most, When Ellie and William become a couple. There was love with this couple and I enjoyed seeing Ellie for the first time show genuine affection, need and concern for someone else. He made her appear vulnerable and more human so I liked this Ellie. Their attempt to seek freedom required Ellie to pass both as a white person and as a man, that’s when things went implausible for me. It’s one thing to for an illiterate slave to pass as a white person, but as a white slave owner and man travelling. There is more to pretending to be a man than wearing clothes. But Ellie pulled it off for six years as Eli where she was fighting, sleeping and leaving among other men. Either way, I couldn’t connect with Ellie as a young girl nor as this cantankerous union soldier. I really wanted to like her because I had empathy for her plight, but she just always came off as self-centered to me.

The ending of this story got predictable but it was satisfying. This subject matter is a sensitive one and I think the author gave the reader a hero to root for. I just would have liked a little more realism in emotion and actions by the characters. I haven’t read the actual account of Ellen Craft because I didn’t want it to color my opinion of this book. My opinions are based solely on my experience with this author’s narrative.

Getting Inside: (Seattle Grizzlies #1) by Serena Bell

Getting Inside: (Seattle Grizzlies #1) by Serena BellSeries:
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: by Serena Bell
Series: Seattle Grizzlies
Release Date: January 3rd, 2017
Pages: 198 pages • Format: e-arc
Published By:Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble

They’re big. They’re hot. And they play hard.

In the kickoff to Serena Bell’s sexy new football romance series, the heat between a female coach and a cocky linebacker turns the Seattle Grizzlies locker room upside down.

Iona: There’s nothing like the rush of going head-to-head with the boys. Football is my life, and I got my new job with the Seattle Grizzlies because I know how to play rough. But as a woman in a man’s game, I can’t afford any distractions—like panty-melting tabloid darling Ty Williams, my star linebacker. I’ve stared down plenty of good-looking players without losing my cool . . . and yet something about Ty’s intense gaze burns straight to my core.

Ty : Despite what they say in the press, I save my best moves for game day. The Grizzlies aren’t just my teammates, they’re my brothers—no way am I going to let some new coach shake up our defense. But Iona Thomas isn’t just some coach. It’s so tough to keep my head in the game when I’d rather be in bed with her. She may take charge at practice, but if I had her in my arms, I’d be choosing the plays. I just need to figure out what makes her tick—and what makes her want to break the rules.
four-half-stars

I was truly surprised at how much I enjoyed this story. On the surface, it seemed like a typical football and coach romance, but the author took the time to develop each character’s narrative that I was engaged in their personal success just as much as the success of their relationship. I was drawn in almost immediately to the end. That’s what great writing does to a reader, transport the reader into the story.

Iona Thomas worked hard to establish herself as female coach and she made sure never to compromise herself by getting involved with a football player…until Ty Williams.
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Ty Williams is the starting linebacker for the Seattle Grizzlies, a fictional PFL team, and the new linebacker coach is causing all kinds of distractions for him. While she gives very sound coaching techniques, he can’t help but notice her curves or how good she smells.
Both Iona and Ty fight their mutual attraction because Ty is under the microscope for his less than inspired performances of late and Iona has made history as the first female coach in the PFL much to the chagrin of some.

Ty was working through some personal issues and Iona was working on herself esteem as a woman. Ty and Iona seemed to be just what the other needed at this point in their lives, but both were cognizant of what an affair would do to their burgeoning careers. With so much on the line, was it worth it to risk their hearts over the career they were individually building?

Serena Bell really made me believe in both character’s integrity. While there was an almost immediate attraction, the author made them work for the happily ever after. I found the road to love believable, realistic and angsty.
black love photo: Black Love blacklove1.jpg
I applaud her for not going the route of too much sex over plot because I became invested in these character’s aspirations as well as their family lives. I felt their chemistry, I also felt their anguish about what a secret affair would do to each other and the football community. As a person who loves football, I appreciated the author’s effort to being authenticity to the character and the environment that Iona and Ty were a part of. I hope this book is indicative of how this series is going to be because I really enjoyed this story.

*Special Thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept via Netgalley for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.

About Serena Bell

USA Today bestselling author and RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee Serena Bell writes richly emotional stories about big-hearted characters with real troubles and the people who are strong and generous enough to love them.

A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and she adores hiding in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.

When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also her enormous collection of constantly changing and passionately embraced hobbies, ranging from needlepoint to paddle boarding to meditation.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

on October 11th 2016
Narrator: Ari Fliakos, Audra McDonald, Cassandra Campbell
Small Great Things Book Cover Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult
Historical Fiction
Ballantine Books
October 11th, 2016
audiobook
480

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

I found this book very moving and very thought provoking. I applaud the author for tacking such a topic. Racism in a professional environment is something that many people deal with but often find very little allies when a major situation arises. I don’t want to rehash the blurb because it was clear on the book subject.

I couldn’t put this book down once I started because it was so real especially in this current racially charged environment. I just hope that readers don’t get caught up in the minutiae of the author’s race and really let the message penetrate.
What made the story so powerful was that each character had major flaws and had opportunities to make different choices. I found myself saying “Why did he do that? Why did she say that? What was the point of going over there?” and so on. The insidiousness of racism and the far-reaching consequences to all involved. I found this book painful at times but it is a very necessary read because the problems in the book are still present in society today. I both liked and disliked Ruth and her attorney throughout the book. I mostly despised Turk but I realize that his behavior had been instilled in him at such a young and impressionable age. I have little tolerance for racists so empathy towards Turk is something I didn’t have much of. White privilege is something that many people refuse to acknowledge and that was at the heart of this story.
I wish the twists weren’t so convoluted and dramatic. Even with those extreme leaps in the story, I highly recommend this book to all who are willing to examine their own hearts about race relations in our world today.

Ezi

Audiobook Review: Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Narrator: Nick Podehl, Teri Schnaubelt
Say Goodbye for Now Book Cover Say Goodbye for Now
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Historical Fiction, Romance
Lake Union Publishing
December 13th, 2016
audibook; e-book
366

On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son.

When Pete Solomon, a neglected twelve-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Lucy and Pete say goodbye to Calvin and Justin. But through the years they keep hope alive…waiting for the world to catch up with them.

This story grazes upon on a number of sensitive subjects. There was the issue of a female doctor, Lucille “Lucy” Armstrong, whose husband left her as her professional standing exceeded his. In addition, her adolescent son resented her because of her work schedule. Adding insult to injury, Dr. Armstrong was lacking in respectable patients as many people in the rural area of Texas refused to be treated by a woman. Then author also deals with the issue of child abuse and abandonment as the reader was introduced to the life of twelve-year-old Pete Solomon. When Pete took pity on an injured wolf dog and got help from a ten-year-old black boy Justin Bell to carry the dog to Dr. Lucy, the author introduced animal abuse, racism and hate crimes into the story.

I enjoyed how the author weaved the story together although I felt she didn’t really delve deep into any of those issues. It was enough for the reader to consider each character’s plight and how they dealt with their lot in life. These four people were outcasts or not part of the acceptable society’s circle, but they found in each other an anchor. Many times, people say blood is thicker than water, but many families are “chosen” or “formed” by necessity. This was one of those times that a makeshift family provided love, acceptance, support and encouragement in a situation where it was badly needed.

Once I started this book, I didn’t put it down. It wasn’t exactly tear inducing but there was a small dose of angsty. I definitely had an emotional connection to the characters because I felt bad for Pete, Justin and for Calvin and Lucy as a couple. That journey to lasting love certainly touched me. There were different kinds of love expressed in this book and it made up for the pain and hatred shown to the characters. There was an encouraging evolution in this book that gave me hope for society today.

I didn’t give this book a five-star rating because while the author did a great job developing the heroine Lucy as well as Pete, but I had a surface grasp on Justine, his father Calvin and Pete’s father. I would have liked more information regarding Pete’s father, especially from his own perspective. Still, this book was really a moving and poignant read.

*Special Thanks to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for the e-book given in exchange for an honest review.”

Ezi

Bachelor Unforgiving (Bachelors in Demand #5) by Brenda Jackson

Bachelor Unforgiving (Bachelors in Demand #5) by  Brenda Jacksonon July 19th 2016
Pages: 226
Amazon
Passionate payback 

They say you can forgive but you can never forget. Virgil Bougard takes that saying to heart. Four years ago Kara Goshay believed a vicious lie about him and ended their relationship. And even after her apology, Virgil is still bitter. He doesn't intend to make things easy for Kara when his family's firm hires her PR company to revamp his playboy image. But faking a liaison with Kara for the media backfires when the line between fantasy and reality is blurred by strong sexual attraction.

Kara wanted forgiveness. Instead she's deep into a heated affair with the powerful, charismatic man she can't resist. The man who claims he'll never forgive her, especially when a secret enemy puts her professional reputation in jeopardy. Stakes are high—but so is their searing desire, a connection so intense it could possibly tame this elusive, unforgiving bachelor at last…
four-stars

Kara Goshay and Virgil Bougard had been a couple for a year when Cara’s big sister Marty told Kara that she saw Virgil being unfaithful. When Kara confronted Virgil he denied the accusation and Kara broke up with him. 4 years later Kara overheard Marty bragging that she fabricated the story of Virgil’s affair. When Kara asked her sister why she would do that, Marty responded that she thought Virgil would eventually hurt Kara. So she hastened the end of the story.

Kara sought out Virgil to apologize but Virgil wanted nothing to do with Kara as she had exhibited a lack of faith in him. So this book was Kara’s fight to win Virgil forgiveness as well as his heart. But Virgil is a notorious grudge holder and he doesn’t forgive. Can Kara break down his walls?

I came into this series late but I would have enjoyed more character building. I didn’t know their personalities, only who they are AFTER the breakup. thought Marty was a shady, but I was unsure why Kara didn’t do more investigation before breaking up with Virgil. Why it took 4 years for her to learn of her big sister’s lies. I also didn’t understand why a strong man didn’t work harder to preserve a relationship with Kara.

Despite that, I enjoyed the story, the writing and the chemistry between Kara and Virgil.

They were both independent, hard working and passionate. I love the idea of the godfathers and Bachelors. This subject matter wasn’t heavy but it’s realistic. It’s entertaining and fun. In real life I would have told Kara to take Virgil at his word and let go. But it worked out for her. I look forward to the next story.

*Special Thanks to Harlequin Kimani via Netgalley for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden

The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFaddenon 2016-04-11
Pages: 400
AmazonNarrator: Robin Miles
During World War II, two African American musicians are captured by the Nazis in Paris and imprisoned at the Buchenwald concentration camp.

The Book of Harlan opens with the courtship of Harlan’s parents and his 1917 birth in Macon, Georgia. After his prominent minister grandfather dies, Harlan and his parents move to Harlem, where he becomes a musician. Soon, Harlan and his best friend, trumpeter Lizard Robbins, are lured across the Atlantic Ocean to perform at a popular cabaret in the Parisian enclave of Montmartre—affectionately referred to as “The Harlem of Paris” by black American musicians.

When the City of Light falls under Nazi occupation, Harlan and Lizard are thrown into Buchenwald, the notorious concentration camp in Weimar, Germany. The experience irreparably changes the course of Harlan’s life.

Based on exhaustive research and told in McFadden’s mesmeric prose, The Book of Harlan skillfully blends the stories of McFadden’s familial ancestors with those of real and imagined characters.

Wow. I almost quit this book but I am glad I didn’t. This book is really touched my soul. I have never given much thought to black people in the context of World War II period as most of the narrative revolves around the Jewish Experience. This is the most detailed accounting I’ve personally read about a real black person captured and sent to a concentration camp.

Harlan Elliot grew up in that 1920’s period where music was going through a revolution. Harlan, his best friend Leo “Lizard” Rubenstein “and their bandmates got an opportunity to travel abroad to Paris and perform.

Harlan and Lizard were captured by the Nazi’s when Paris was invaded in 1940, and they were sent to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Five long years later Harlan made it out but Lizard didn’t survive and Harlan’s life was forever changed.
The latter half of Harlan’s story portrayed a wounded soul. This story was painful yet informative. Disturbing yet rousing. At times, I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t bring myself to halt. The author’s use of imagery and prose leaves the reader feeling raw at times, but also mesmerized with the portrayal of the period’s musicality.

There were other subplots in this story but Harlan’s experience was the centerpiece. It was written with care and I was left astonished by the time I was done. This is Historical Fiction done well. I appreciate the author sharing this story and giving voice to a marginalized segment of the 1920-40’s era. This book wasn’t a flowers and candy read, but it was engaging, informative and inspirational.

*Special Thanks to Perseus/PGW/Legato via by Edelweiss for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.