C.L. Polk’s The Midnight Bargain is not the sequel to Witchmark, a fact that disappointed me when I first learned it. But after reading it, now I kinda want her to forget about Witchmark and just keep writing novels in this world (well, okay, actually I want both).

So this is basically a Regency romance, except in a magical world not our own. It follows a young debutante as she goes to not-London for her Season to find a husband, except that she doesn’t want to find a husband, because marriage in this world means having your magical abilities taken away from you, and her ambition is to be a great sorceress. But she’s not free to simply follow her desires, not only for the reasons of social pressure, but because her family is counting on her match financially.

It rarely happens that I’m glad I’ve procrastinated abominably in writing up a book, but in this case, I’ve just watched Bridgerton on Netflix, and so the comparison is really hard to avoid. As it happens, I read and wrote up The Duke and I, the book that series is based on, and while I liked most of it, I was bothered by the “remarkably horrid gender politics” and was looking for a more modern take on the genre. So… yeah, if you were also looking for a more feminist take on the Regency genre, here’s a book for you.

The other reason to be glad I’ve sat on this write-up so long is that now I know for sure all the books I’ve read in 2020, so I can say that this might be the most fun of them all, and that “might” is only there because of Gideon the Ninth back in January. This is one of those books where you just tear through the pages, and good enough that you don’t feel guilty about it. If Regency romance is at all a genre that appeals to you, this is a must-read. Highly recommended.

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