The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
Fantasy, Historical Fiction
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?Goodreads
Thank you to Erewhon Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. You can read more on my disclosures page.
I was intrigued when I read the synopsis, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. This was certainly a fantasy book, but it was much more than that.
This book takes place in an alternate world, but it has a historical slant to it. Women are “sold” into marriage and must give up their magic to bear children. The story centers on two women who won’t accept that life for themselves. I was immediately drawn to Beatrice; she is extremely likable and has a good heart. The author did a great job of making Beatrice understandable. It was so easy to empathize with her, especially as a woman. I also enjoyed Ysbeta; she was just the friend that Beatrice needed. And Ianthe, he is the partner every woman needs, understanding and selfless.
This book has a great story, but at its heart, it is about women’s rights. About the idea that women should be able to make their own choices and have control of their own bodies. I like that this book was able to make a point without being too “preachy” about it.
I really enjoyed this book and want to read more by this author.