ARC Reviews

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

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?


An e-arc was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you so much Erewhon Books.

The Midnight Bargain was released today!!

When I first read the synopsis I thought this is a book I’ll absolutely adore. Being a Fantasy and Romance reader who enjoys books set in a regency setting, this seemed perfect for me. Sadly, it was really underwhelming.

The magic was intriguing, but we never really got into it and saw all it could offer. I was confused when Beatrice had Ysbeta perform something during their practice, though I understood how it  goes when Beatrice herself used magic in the beginning of the book. I think there was a lot more for the magic system to offer but we never really got into it and only saw it in action a few times.
The magic system, plot, and the world have so much potential, and I really wanted more from them.

I’m also a character reader and my biggest disappointment is that all characters felt flat to me and I couldn’t connect with any of them. They were fighting against the systemic sexism done to women in their world by putting collars on them and taking their magic away and it’s amazing, but I didn’t feel for them once. Sure, I wanted them to succeed, that collar is terrible, but I didn’t really care much for Beatrice or Ysbeta and didn’t cheer them on with my full heart as I expected I would. I felt the same thing towards all the other characters, except Nadi who was the most fun when he was around.

Beatrice’s sister also really annoyed me, and I just grew to hate her father as the story went on. God, it was terrible reading that scene towards the end(sorry I’m a little vague, I don’t want to spoil anyone but if you’ve read this you know which scene) , he was absolutely awful with Beatrice and he treated her like an object not a human, and didn’t care that she’s not safe with the person he’s tying her to, that this person harmed her before. And it wasn’t addressed afterwards which I hated.

I also expectd this story to be a combination of magic and swoons, and yes there was a romance but it was insta-love with absolutely no build up. It happened in a second and I’m a romantic at heart but didn’t feel anything when these two were together, I couldn’t ship them. I wish it was more of a slow burn romance.

The pacing of the book was also off, mostly on the slow side.
So in the end the book was 2.5⭐ for me. I wish I could’ve enjoyed it more because the thing they were fighting for was great, the idea that there are women out there in their world defying this sexism and practicing magic is amazing and has so much potential. And the world and magic system truly do have a lot to offer, and I wanted more from them.

But I really did enjoy the epilogue, what Beatrice did was badass, empowering women with knowledge, and I wish we saw more of that spirit in the book. I liked how things turned out for everyone and was glad the author showed us a little bit of their future.

Have you read any of C. L. Polk’s books??

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