Tuesday 20 April 2021

Book Review: The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk book cover

AD* | 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? 

The Midnight Bargain is a gorgeous story, expertly interweaving all the best bits of magic, romance, and historical fiction. 

This alt-Regency era novel tells the story of one desperate young woman's quest to escape a devastating future. In this world, women are forced to wear marital collars, cruel devices designed to cut off their magic under the pretext of saving their future children from being possessed by spirits during pregnancy. This fate is inescapable; as soon as a couple marries, her husband locks the collar into place around her neck where it stays until she is no longer able to bear children.

Beatrice Amara Clayborn is a young lady from a modest family. All her life, she has been prepared for the Bargaining Season - a time when eligible young people from high society attend balls and events to socialise and make potential matches. The future of the Clayborn family rests heavily on Beatrice's young shoulders. Her father is in debt after a string of failed investments, and he is gambling the last of their money on Beatrice's first Bargaining Season. No matter what, she must leave with a new husband.

Beatrice, however, has other plans in mind. She doesn't want to spend her life shackled by the marital collar, living with a man she doesn't love. Beatrice wants to continue studying magic and to be recognised for her powers. The last thing she wants is to marry... until she meets handsome, rich Ianthe Lavan. Ianthe and his sister Ysbeta quickly become integral to Beatrice's plans, and the trio has plenty of surprises in store throughout the book.

Some of this book's greatest strengths are its world-building and originality. The world is intriguing and exciting, richly described without spending too much time going into every little detail. It's well-written and definitely has a lot of potential. 

Overall, this is a highly enjoyable novel that defies genre boundaries to tell a brilliant story. Plus, isn't that cover gorgeous? 

Rating: 5 stars

The Midnight Bargain is available to buy now. 

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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