Nebula Finalist Review — The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

Photo by Silver Ringvee on Unsplash

(As a note, I won’t be doing all of these, as not everyone in the novel category has provided review copies).

So, it’s Nebula awards time, and I’m going to post my impressions of most of the finalists. I’m going to start with the novel The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

First Impressions

The most annoying way to provide award review copies is a Netgalley widget.

The second most annoying way is an encrypted PDF. Acrobat kept crashing on my tablet. This is not Polk’s fault, it’s her publisher’s.

And now for the full disclosure. I had a very negative first impression of this book, which is in no way Polk’s fault. Fact is, The Midnight Bargain is a fantasy regency romance.




This is deeply personal and has to do with a teacher who wanted me to give up science fiction and read Jane Austen instead because science fiction was for stupid people. This has led to me having a negative reaction to anything which remotely reminds me of Jane Austen.

Again, not Polk’s fault.

I’m also not a huge reader of category romance because I find it overly predictable…the very reason most romance readers eat it up.

In order to not have Polk suffer from my childhood baggage (it really isn’t her fault), I forced myself to read through the book in its entirety.

Photo by Peter Dawn on Unsplash

The Great Chef

There’s a saying I don’t remember the source of: A good chef will serve you something you like.

A great chef will serve you something you don’t like…and have you come back for seconds.

Polk came very close to being a great chef. I’m not quite wanting to come back for seconds, but the truth is that when I forced myself past my aversion to the subgenre, I had to come to the conclusion that The Midnight Bargain is, in fact, a really good book. I absolutely understand why the romance lovers in SFWA pushed this book forward.

It shows a romance writer’s keen grasp of character (romance is all about character, and romance writers do character better than anyone else. Seriously, they do), intriguing worldbuilding and well put together prose. I prefer worlds with less misogyny right now…I’m kind of tired of fantasy feminism that is about rehashing old battles. But it is supposed to be a regency.

This book is probably not going to get my nod, but if you are fond of regency style romance, please do pick it up. Coming from me with my baggage, “I actually finished it” is very high praise, trust me.

Also, it was nice to see an author get the horse stuff right. I’ll forgive her for “prancers” as a breed of horse because it gave the right image.

Overall, a good book that isn’t to my personal taste.

Freelance writer, freelance editor, novelist and short story writer. Jack of many trades.

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