The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk, published October 13 2020.

We’re looking at a fantasy world that’s similar to the British Regency Period. The higher classes meet during a season that’s called Bargaining Season, to basically sell off their eligible daughters to the highest bidder. These daughters are sorceresses. They could perform magic, but -as is so often the case- they are not allowed to. The practice of magic is restricted to initiated men. Young sorceresses learn a few spells, but never get a real chance to outgrow the nursery rhyme phase. Upon their marriage an enchanted collar will be fastened around their necks blocking their magic, so that no malicious spirit may enter and inhabit the soul of any possible unborn child. Magical women’s sole purpose, until menopause, is producing offspring.

The female lead of the story, Beatrice Clayborn, is such an eligible young sorceress. Her father, a non-magical merchant, has indebted the already financially unstable family to give Beatrice the perfect Bargaining Season. Beatrice is to find a wealthy husband so that especially her younger sister might profit by being able to go to an esteemed finishing school.

But Beatrice doesn’t want a husband. Beatrice wants to become a full Magus. Since women aren’t allowed to practice the magic that is necessary to become a magus, Beatrice had to learn to summon a spirit in secret from hidden encrypted books.

When Beatrice meets the handsome heir to a wealthy family of magi and his sister, she at first thinks she’s made enemies for life. In fact, she’s managed to make the best allies in her fight for equal rights for sorceresses. A difficult course, since neither sibling must know that the other is working to find a way for women to embrace both, magic and family.

Although the happy ending was predictable, I quite enjoyed the way it came about. A very enjoyable cosy read that had quite a lot of commentary on women’s oppression.