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Publisher's Summary

From the beloved World Fantasy Award-winning author of Witchmark comes a sweeping, romantic new fantasy set in a world reminiscent of Regency England, where women's magic is taken from them when they marry. A sorceress must balance her desire to become the first great female magician against her duty to her family.  

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?

©2020 C.L. Polk (P)2020 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Midnight Bargain

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  • Overall
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Loved this book! Smart, Fun & Sumptuous

In a world reminiscent of Regency England - but with magic - a would be scorceress balances her desire to be a master magician against her family and society's expectations of her making a stunning marriage as she is herded to the high society marriage mart.

This book was stunning, with Beatrice navigating through society manners (so well done), forming dynastic relationships, and fighting against the class and especially gender dynamics, with its great restrictions on women, even the fashions are restrictive.

This is a stand alone novel, but I do so hope the author writes more in this universe she has created.

And Moira Quirk is a wonderful narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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narrator only redeeming part of this book

This book is terrible. Moira's narration is the only redeeming thing about it. the main character is so stupid and makes unintelligible choices, forgets to use her mother as an aid, god I can't believe I listened to the whole thing. written like a 14 year old's fan fic of a romance novel crossed with fantasy. needs to be heavily edited and then consider the reasons the characters make the choices they do- not compelling or convincing

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Author & narrator are a perfect match

This is a charming quasi-Regency story of balls & flirtations & negotiations beloved of Bridgerton or Jane Austen fans, only with an underbelly as dark and terrifying as The Handmaid's Tale. The narration is excellent, the plot & characters believable. Emotional engagement is impossible to resist. You will love some characters and utterly loathe others.

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Interesting world created, narration is fun!

I enjoyed the book, and it was an interesting world that the author created. The dialogue and the internal thoughts of the main character were a bit repetitive. There was a lot of focus on fashion, appearance, and society manners, which may be interesting to some readers. The narrator's different accents and voices were great!

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pretty good

I picked it because it was a Canada reads contender and was all over my Instagram earlier this year.

it's not normally a genre I read, younh adult fantasy. it I enjoyed it. it wasn't spectacular but i would recommend it to anyone who does like the genre.

the story was good, I thought the ending was a bit predictable.

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excellent

loved it, flew through it, excellent book. Starts like Bridgerton, drifts a bit to Harry Potter with a dash of handmaid tale.

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Awesome and riveting!

I am so glad this is a selection for Canada Reads 2021! It speaks to inequality out of fear and tradition.
I know others have given not great reviews but I would challenge them to listen to this narrator tell the story and not fall in love with these characters. This story is definitely needed at this time if people start asking the questions this author unveils about our society and culture today.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cass Kachel
  • 2021-03-25

I wanted to love this

DNF with only 3 hours left. I TRIED to love this book. The premise is fantastic, the narration was wonderful but the character development... ugh. The MC is absolutely awful. There's so many opportunities for her to get what she claims to care about but throws tantrums nonstop. I don't want to give spoilers but the women in this book, who should have and COULD have been so amazing, just fell flat and stayed one dimensional

36 people found this helpful

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  • Iben Krutt
  • 2020-10-21

A mixed bag, but decent overall

Like I've come to expect from C. L. Polk, the magic system and word building in this was excellent! The author has some of the freshest takes on magic that I’ve seen in recent years, and the mix of historical elements add a lot to the greater worlds of her novels.
This one also includes the use of spirits to aid with magic, and the take on them is also rather novel – treating them more like innocent-yet-dangerous children, than the conniving jinn or fairy type that magicians usually mix with.

There were, however, elements that weren’t quite my cup of tea; the characters felt flat, the romance was instantaneous and shallow, and the protagonist had a bit of YA novel heroine-syndrome going on. Keep in mind, I’m not usually a romance or YA literature fan, so those who are might not mind these aspects of The Midnight Bargain.

For a while, I was going to give this 2.5 stars overall, but the ending really kicked things into gear and dragged it up to 3. Stick with it, and maybe it’ll grow on you too. I'd say it's worth the read just for Nadi alone.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Fey Gilo
  • 2021-02-23

Not! a regency romance.

This fantastical story was well written and well thought out. It deals with issues of female autonomy over ones decisions and ones body. I thought this story handled these issues in an engaging and unsubtle way. Some moments were a little like getting hit in the gut with a sledge hammer. It didn’t take away from the experience in my opinion. This is a romance and manages a happy ended.

It seemed like the book was being set up for a sequel until the epilogue. So it seems like this books is really a one off.

The thing I struggled with when it came to reading other reviews was the implication that this was on any way a regency style romance. For some reason if women are wearing corsets it must be regency. This novel has very few points of reference to an actual time period but if that period were to be named it would be the middle of the 18th century. When Marie Antoinette was queen. The styles that are described deal with the dresses from that period. This should aid listeners in imagining the clothing being depicted. The issues relating to women from an historical perspective precede the regency period by hundreds of not thousands of years. (My rant is now over)

Moira Quirk is one of my favorite female narrators. She brings stories to life and keeps me listening.

14 people found this helpful

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  • A N
  • 2021-02-18

Get it immediately but reserve the whole day

I wanted something light and fun to listen to for the cold February month but I listened to the entire thing in one day. Could not stop. There's enough regency lushness to scratch the itch but the narrative is self aware with protagonists you can really root for. Wish the ending was longer/more drawn out and also would love to read at least 4 sequels (hopefully delving into the plight of less monied women and archaeological adventures) but the story is self contained and utterly satisfying. Going straight to my favorites list.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Diane Verrochi
  • 2020-11-20

What a ride!

This story is amazing. The language lyrical and compelling. The character arcs are rich and complex and satisfying. Loved it!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Deborah Stellhorn
  • 2022-01-29

Picked for the narrator, stayed for the story

Moira Quirk is my favorite narrator and I chose this book because of her, but I was engaged by the story right away and really enjoyed listening to it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Courtney
  • 2022-01-07

The feminist fantasy you need to read!

This book was amazing and I am speechless. Polk delivered the first true feminist fantasy novel that I’ve ever read. I hadn’t even realized until finishing this book how lacking the fantasy genre is in feminist novels that show strong women who don’t bow to a man or lose themselves because they fell in love. This book is honesty so good I was addicted and could not stop listening. Thank you C. Polk I will sing this book’s praises to anyone that will listen!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-10-05

Fantasy and Feminism!

A lovely story. I thoroughly enjoyed. Made me think about our current society as backdrop against this Fantastical World. Thumbs up.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Alexis
  • 2021-06-25

Loved it.

I flew through this book. The narrator was great. I love everything by this author.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Surri
  • 2021-04-27

Fantastic, as usual!

Modern Feminists Read This Book! It hit so close to home and hit me straight in the feels. The struggle between choosing love and a relationship or independence and the freedom to choose your own path is one I am intimate with. I hope to find my own Ianthe one day.

2 people found this helpful