Published: 5th October 2012 by Harlequin
Format: Paperback, 331 pages
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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What's the price of a deal with the devil? Playing by the psychic underworld's rules has cost.
Jazz Callender's whole life just got turned upside down. Her friend Ben's been convicted of a crime he didn't commit, and Jazz is determined to clear his name, even if it means enlisting the help of dark forces. Enter James, a stranger with a mysterious offer. If Jazz pledges to work for The Cross Society, a shadowy secret organisation, he'll help her save Ben. But as she's thrust into a world of psychic powers and dangerous magic, Jazz isn't just bargain for her friend's freedom. She's bargaining for her soul too.
And how high a price is she willing to pay?
Devil’s Bargain is a quick read, written in the style of a detective novel and featuring two no-nonsense female leads who team up to run a detective agency. Jazz and Lucia quickly find out that The Cross Society, who fund their new agency, aren’t what they initially seemed, and things quickly go from bad to worse as they become embroiled in a the paranormal world.
I didn’t like Jazz initially – I wanted to put the book down a few times because of how infuriating she is. Stubborn, angry and prone to lashing out at exactly the wrong people, the first quarter of the book really annoyed me because Jazz pushed away everyone who was trying to help her. I also didn’t like how insecure she is around Lucia: Lucia’s perfect and has wonderful clothes and sunglasses, and look at me, all frumpy and dirty and ick. Give me a break, Jazz could have been just as beautiful if she didn’t just roll out of bed and go out like that. However, Jazz grew on me as the book progressed, when I got to see her investigative skills in action. I’m a bit mystified by her attraction to James and their ensuing romance – it all felt a bit forced to me, but otherwise I liked how Jazz developed over the course of the narrative.
Lucia is much more impressive, bringing her spy-craft and savvy investigative skills to the table. I also enjoyed how she complements Jazz – she calms Jazz down and makes her see reason, offsetting Jazz’s act first, think later approach to situations. Disappointingly, James has no depth at all, he’s just around to look handsome and deliver letters.
The plot of the book moves quickly and is engaging – it kept me up way past my bed time and I read the book in one sitting. There are enough tantalising clues scattered throughout the novel to make a reader want to figure everything out, although for about half the novel I couldn’t see where the Fantasy element tied in because it reads like any detective novel. But when the paranormal aspect was revealed, I thought it interesting and wanted to find out more. A lot has gone unanswered in this book, however, so I look forward to getting to know the paranormal side of things better in the next one.
I think Devil’s Bargain is the kind of book one reads while travelling – it’s easy to read and straight forward, and perfect for airports, planes and beaches. It will be enjoyed by readers looking for a story with hints at the paranormal and a little romance, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Devil’s Due, soon.