Book Title: Devil’s Bargain
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Red Letter Days #1
Publisher: Harlequin UK Ltd/MIRA
Category: Romance, Suspense, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Main Characters: Lucia, Jazz/James
Author’s Website: http://www.rachelcaine.com
Source: NetGalley. Ebook ARC provided in expectation of a fair and honest review. New remuneration was given for this review.
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?
I have to confess a couple of things up front: 1.) I know Rachel from WAAAAAY back in the Buffy fanfic days, and she was one of the first writers there that I looked up to. I’ve kept up with her on and off over the years, and I am a MANIAC for the Weather Warden series. and 2.) I realized pretty quickly as I started reading this that I had loved it and WORSHIPPED it when it was part of a short-lived Harlequin series called “Bombshell,” and the book series was called “Red Letter Days.” I think there were three books before the series itself was dropped. You can find the old covers with a search on Goodreads.
Of course that was probably 6 or 7 years ago, so reading it again with a whole new set of eyes was just as much fun as the first time, if not more so. I’m much more appreciative of a pair of kick ass women as partners, and Jazz and Lucia completely fit the bill. I love their Odd Couple vibe — both badass, in their own special ways.
The rest of the supporting cast is wonderful, something that Rachel has a real talent for. From Lawyer Borden/James, Jazz’s maybe-kinda-sorta love interest, to crazy genius tech guy Marty, and assistant Pansy. Even the bad or possibly bad guys and tertiary characters grab your attention and make you look twice at them. You can never been sure who is who and what side they’re on. Makes for a good story!
The underlying premise of this book (and PLEASE Harlequin, can we continue with this series? I’m DYING to see where it would have gone!) is fantastic. I can’t give too much away, because you really need to take the ride for yourself. Let’s just say that it will get you thinking about free will and whether or not there are people in the world that can not only see, but possibly manipulate, the entire future of the human race.
The only weakness of DEVIL’S BARGAIN is that it is a short book expected to carry WAY too much information. It needs to be a lot longer. Of course, that’s a limitation of it being part of a Harlequin line — they have to stay within a length limit to fit in the framework Harlequin sets. There are times when certain scenes or sections should have gone on a lot longer — the pacing is far too fast. Again, that’s not a flaw in the story, but the structure it’s been forced into.
Basically, I WANT MORE. I have to see if I can find the second and third books in my Rachel Caine section, because now my curiosity is piqued all over again!
Side Note: This cover is silly — it’s clearly designed by Harlequin UK/Mira to cash in on Rachel’s monster series, THE MORGANVILLE VAMPIRES, and other YA series with the same style. The lady on this cover, while cute, is too young and looks absolutely nothing like either of the heroines in DEVIL’S BARGAIN. Oh well, the book deserves to sell, so if that helps… go for it.
OOOOO – Five Full Moons: OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK GO GET IT RIGHT NOW!
OOOO – Four Full Moons: I REALLY liked this. Well worth reading, and possibly re-reading!
OOO – Three Full Moons: Good! Worth a read.
OO – Two Full Moons: Not really to my taste, but not terrible.
O – One Full Moon: Has serious flaws that make it difficult to read and review fairly.
I also use half-moons as necessary. I should make it clear that I do review books on a number of levels, emotional and structural being the major ones. I might read a book with serious grammar and spelling flaws, but it could still win my heart due to characterization or story. Or a perfectly structured novel might leave me feeling nothing, and won’t get a great review. I DO always try to find something positive to say about a book, or I won’t say anything much at all. I DO NOT engage in mean-spirited snark, although I do give constructive criticism. As a writer, I can’t stand the former, and always appreciate the latter, even if it’s “negative.”
Hope this makes sense. Any questions, comments, or vague misgivings are welcome in the comments!