Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
Published by Indie on October 13, 2020
Genres: Fantasy Romance
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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?
I have enjoyed this author in the past, so when I saw this gorgeous cover I didn’t hesitate. It didn’t hurt the story was full of magic with a feel like Regency England. The world setup is like many books I have read where women are oppressed, not allowed to use or train to use magic.
The world-building in The Midnight Bargain was comfortable as it fit a familiar style. The characters were lovely, flawed, independent and resourceful; I couldn’t help but love them. Beatrice is a young women who wants to live her life, learn and practice magic. Her family though is in financial trouble so she needs to marry to bring them wealth. She is clever and while her feelings are selfish, she works to do what her family needs. Her younger sister, Harriet, is a selfish little brat, young and unsympathetic to Beatrice’s needs.
Beatrice meets the Lavan siblings by chance and it changes the whole course of the season of ingenues where men select brides. Ysbeta is a girl after her own heart but with many more resources. Ianthe is quite the enlightened and perceptive man. Of course, he does live with Ysbeta, but he learns from Beatrice too.
I sadly started reading at around 11pm and the next thing I knew it was 4:48am when I finished! It captured me emotionally and I was worried, excited, and cheering on my favored characters. They faced some formidable rules and society pressures, with their own families making demands on them. I really loved this story.
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