Into the Bargain (a Clandestine Magic fairy tale)

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?

INTO THE BARGAIN is a fairy-tale-inspired fantasy romance set in the Clandestine Magic world, shortly before the events of the trilogy that begins with Subversive. This quick read (21,000 word) novella, a standalone story with an HEA, is perfect for fans of gaslamp fantasy, feminist awakenings and slow-burn romance with some steam.

Read the first chapter here.

Find out about the fairy tale quest here.

(Want to borrow it through your library? Here’s how to tag a book in the Libby app to ask your library to consider getting it.)

Praise for Into the Bargain

“A wonderful fantasy romance that’s fiercely feminist and wholly delightful.” — Stephanie Burgis, author of Snowspelled and Scales & Sensibility

Into the Bargain made me feel transported. It’s so beautifully written I felt like I was there plotting anxiously with Pen in the library and listening to the seductive voice of the mysterious unnamed assistant as he offered his bargain. This is a must read for Gaslamp and fairytale fans. It’s pure magic!” — S.L. Prater, author of Court of Tricksters

“A charming fantasy romance novella. … A warning if you do pick up the main trilogy after sampling this — be prepared to binge all of them in one go, they’re that addictive!” — AJ Lancaster, author of the Stariel series

“When I pick up a Colleen Cowley book, I forget to sleep and breathe until I turn the last page of flawless prose and delicious angst. Her heroine speaks for all of us with her small but powerful victories over the wizard patriarchy. And there is no greater catnip than a morally gray hero with a tragic past and respect for women. INTO THE BARGAIN is the story we deserve on our darkest timeline.” — Vela Roth, author of Blood Mercy

“I’ve said before how much I love the world that Cowley built for this series, and I think this novella is a great introduction.” — Brittany @bookwyvernlovestea

“I would absolutely recommend not only this novella but Cowley’s entire catalogue. … If you are into female empowerment, revolution, and gaslamp fantasy, Cowley is the author for you!” — Chick Lit Book Club Podcast

“All the little fairytale nods were brilliant, and I loved the FMC and her take-charge attitude to changing her fate. I highly recommend this one!” — My Heart is Booked Blog

“The mystery surrounding the assistant is intriguing, and the slow-building, chemistry-laden love story between him and Pen is fantastic. … Super swoon-worthy.” — One Book More

“Cowley has created a delightful romantic adaptation of Rumpelstiltskin … set in the wonderfully original and entertaining Clandestine Magic world.” — Jen at That’s What I’m Talking About

“This was such a cozy fantasy romance novella that gave me all the Bridgerton vibes!” — @theromantasybookcorner._