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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book started a little slow, but once it hooked me I stayed hooked. I was predisposed to like it, as I’m a big fan of fantasy and Regency historical romance. Polk took the best of both, turning a basic Regency world (with few choices for women beyond marriage) into a horrifyingly gilded cage that reminded me in sentiment of the Handmaid’s Tale.

Beatrice is an incredibly talented sorceress and wants nothing more than to pursue magic and live quietly at home promoting her family’s finances. Her father has wagered everything on her catching a wealthy husband and will not hear of her practicing magic at all, trapping her into the season she does not want.

The truly terrifying part of this book is the collars the women are forced to wear once married, in order to prevent a spirit from entering their growing baby. They are shackled with a silver collar, forced to submit to the dulling of their senses and lives, unable to work any magic. For Beatrice, this is the worst fate she can imagine – and that’s leaving out the cruel and selfish men she’s supposed to catch.

I loved Ysbeta and Ianthe – even though their introduction isn’t promising, they quickly become Beatrice’s staunchest allies. Ianthe tempts Beatrice and she spends a lot of time wondering if she could submit to her magic being taken from her, if it will give her Ianthe’s love. It creates a great deal of drama and indecision in Beatrice’s heart.

And Nadi. I loved the luck spirit and her enthusiasm for life and the way Beatrice finds loyalty in her when she least expects it.

The ending was a bit of a whirlwind but I love the way everything played out, and I am both satisfied that the story is complete and left wanting more.

*Thanks to Netgalley and Erewhon Books for providing an e-arc to review

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