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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Rachel Caine's "Devil's Bargain"

Description: 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?
Disclaimer: I received this book directly from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. 

You're probably picking up this book for one of two reasons: you loved the Weather Warden series or you love the Morganville Vampire series. My friends have been raving about both for years and I have yet to take the plunge. However, I recognized Ms. Caine's name and had to request it from NetGalley. 

I was confused at first as to why the cover is different from the copy I found on I reviewed my profile and somehow, it has me there as UK, not USA. I have since fixed that, but it does explain why the cover is different: this (and its sequel) are the UK versions of Ms. Caine's books. 

The description of the book goes a bit beyond what the actual content is. It's accurate in that The Cross Society is shadowy and secret, and psychic powers are at play, but don't expect a wizard fight. This is more cranial than magical. Jazz's life is upside down, her partner accused of murder, and you first encounter her in a seedy bar, drowning her sorrows in multiple glasses of whiskey and her anger in a quick bar fight where she beats the tar out of two overgrown men. 

The juxtaposition of Jazz and Lucia is entertaining. You have two women who are not as they appear, both strong-willed, independent, intelligent, successful women who are thrown together by two red envelopes and an opportunity for more. One flaunts her beauty impeccably, the other downplays her own with stealth. Together, I imagine they are quite the striking pair. I like how they are both incredibly capable. My childhood hero was Wonder Woman; I like that they can save themselves. 

The action develops quickly and believably. No character is a minor little blip, all have apt descriptions that are satisfying. I especially liked Manny. I have a soft spot for the quirky, tortured soul guy I suppose. I liked that he was efficient, intelligent, and despite his past trauma, functional. 

I flubbed by reading the first 20% of the sequel, "Devil's Due," before I realized that I had them out of order. This one leaves off on a cliff-hanger and I highly recommend buying both at once so that you can dive right in! 

Quick, well-paced read with strong, intelligent female Leads (pun to find out!)