Title The Midnight Bargain
Author C.L. Polk
Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.
In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.
The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?
Release Date October 13, 2020
I love the cover of this book. That’s basically 75% of the reason I applied for it. The synopsis sounded really interesting too but that cover! Anyway, I liked the idea of a world that was similar to Recency England and I love fantasy. This seemed like a perfect blend.
Some Things I Liked
- The magic system. I liked the codes, grimoires, and binding to spirits as a form of magic in this story. I thought it was detailed well and was not overly complicated to the point of being confusing.
- The romance. It felt very regency-esque and I enjoyed that aspect. To be totally fair, it was a smidge rushed at parts (in other words, Ianthe fell for Beatrice pretty quickly), but that was relatively commonplace for the time period this is based on.
- Empowering the sorceresses. I loved that this story was about Beatrice wanting love and magic, but not having to compromise. Too often stories lead to some kind of compromise on one front or another and I loved that Beatrice was willing to fight for the perfect solution to her problem.
- Harriet. She was a little whiny in the beginning but I grew to like her as a character very much. I think she would make a very interesting spin-off story character.
One Thing I Wasn’t Crazy About
- The language, names, and world building in the beginning of the story read a bit like it’s a sequel of which I hadn’t read the first book. I was confused by the names and customs of the fictional countries especially. I was able to figure it out, but it gave this book a slow start.
I think Beatrice’s story is complete given the Epilogue of this book. However, I’d read more set in this world. Beatrice’s work has only just begun and we met several other characters that I’d like to read more about. I think the changing world they live in could make for a very interesting sequel.
I enjoyed this book. I don’t know if I would have pushed to read it as quickly as I did if not for my buddy reader @lianne_the_bibliophile saying how much she was enjoying it. Please note, that’s not to say I disliked the book, but with a slower beginning, I might have set it aside for a while if not for her encouragement. I really did enjoy the story overall.
Recommendations for Further Reading
- The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith – if you liked the historical vibes as well as the fantasy elements, try this series by Luanne G. Smith.
- Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore – there’s no magic in this series, but if you liked the idea of ladies empowering other ladies, try this series. It’s witty, fun, and has a great premise.