Ridden with debt after a disastrous business deal, Beatrice Clayborn knows that her family is counting on her to raise their fortunes with an advantageous marriage… And when she catches the attention of Ianthe Lavan – clever, handsome, kind, and extraordinarily rich – it seems as though she may succeed! But Beatrice’s first and truest love has always been magic; marriage will mean giving that up, and that’s a sacrifice that she’s not sure that she’s willing to make – even for the best man she’s ever known.
I picked up this book almost on a whim (checking out the audiobook after regretting not buying a second-hand hardcover) and was completely taken aback by how much it captivated me! I loved the main characters, the story had me hooked, and the world – a Regency-flavoured fantasy world with a magic system based around summoning spirits – was delightfully intriguing (& I’ve listed a few similar-feeling titles at the end of this review, for those interested).
The romance between Beatrice and Ianthe was also very sweet, and I was super-invested in all its ups and downs; I loved how respectful Ianthe was of Beatrice’s dilemma, and how willing he was to listen to and try to understand her perspective – even though his own advantage in the world was very much linked to her disadvantage…
But! My favourite relationships in this book by far were the friendships. 💕 Beatrice makes a couple of bargains very early on in the book – one with Ianthe’s sister Ysbeta, and another with a character who I won’t spoil for you – and it was such a joy to see those very mercenary relationships blossom into true, deep friendships as the story goes on. Ysbeta was my favourite character of the bunch, and I would absolutely be shipping her with Beatrice if I weren’t so in love with their platonic relationship. 😍
If The Midnight Bargain has any flaw, it’s that its feminist message is a bit heavy-handed, which occasionally made me take it a bit less seriously… but never for more than a heartbeat. And given that it’s a message I whole-heartedly agree with, I was glad to find it so tightly entwined into such a great story.
COMPARABLE TITLES (mostly in terms of the world-building and magic):