Into the Bargain
Author: Colleen Cowley
What I’m Talking About:
Having been given two weeks by her uncle, Pen needs a husband or she’ll have to move to Wyoming and act as servant for her uncle’s family. She’s heard rumor that the local omnimancer is looking for a wife. Although at 25, she’s past prime marrying age, she’s hoping she can convince him with the help of his secretive assistant.
Into the Bargain is set in the wonderfully original and entertaining Clandestine Magic world. While it’s not necessary for enjoying this novella, I highly recommend checking out Ms. Cowley’s original trilogy which details the alternate timeline world filled with wizards and magic.
Cowley has created a delightful romantic adaptation of Rumpelstiltskin, but she didn’t stop with just one fairytale: there are both overt and subtle mentions of several familiar stories. The effect gives the entire tale a storybook vibe. But don’t worry, it’s not a child’s story!
While a romance at heart, Into the Bargain is Pen’s coming-of-age story. Even though she’s 25, she was sheltered and held back by her recently deceased father. She gave up much to take care of him and their home, never getting a college education or a job. In the two weeks she’s on her own and spending time with the omnimancer’s nameless assistant, she experiences so much, allowing her to grow and challenge the teachings of Lady’s Guide to Unimpeachable Conduct. A run in with a League rally (huge part of the original series) is highly transformative; “All this time, she’d thought the alternative to being a lady was an unspeakable fate—instead of the reality, which was to be a woman.”
As the pair spend time together while she waits for the omnimancer, and mutual friendship and attraction grows, putting into question Pen’s whole plan.
Into the Bargain is an entertaining, sweet novella with ties to several fairytales. I am so thankful that Cowley continues to revisit and expand her Clandestine Magic world.
My Rating: B Liked It — Recommend
About the Book:
A young lady with no income—and shortly no home—must be in want of a wizard husband.
Pen Novak has two weeks to find someone to marry. Otherwise, she’ll be spirited off to live with her awful uncle. Fortunately, her town’s omnimancer is on the market, and he plans to choose someone at a ball in thirteen days.
Unfortunately, he’s not the type to appreciate cleverness, persistence or anything else Pen has to offer.
Enter the wizard’s intriguing assistant, who makes her a bargain: a magical brew that could virtually guarantee her selection, in exchange for a favor. Which he won’t specify. Nor will he tell her his name.
Of course she shouldn’t accept. Especially as she starts to notice his fine eyes and tempting lips.
But with all the job openings in town meant for men only, what other choice does a young lady—or, rather, a not quite so young lady—really have?
Release Date: January 31, 2024
Publisher: Slender Sky Books
Series: Clandestine Magic world
Genre: Fantasy Romance, Alternate Timeline, Novella
Book Source: Author
Amazon (affiliate link)
Reviews in the Series:
Clandestine Magic series Audiobook Reviews