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Devil's Bargain (Silhouette Intrigue…
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Devil's Bargain (Silhouette Intrigue S.) (edition 2007)

by Rachel Caine

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2151454,204 (3.7)14
Member:BookWormRflects
Title:Devil's Bargain (Silhouette Intrigue S.)
Authors:Rachel Caine
Info:Silhouette Books (2007), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Devil's Bargain by Rachel Caine

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An interesting premise similar to The Adjustment Bureau, but the execution's iffy, with a mean and bitter protagonist leading the way.

Devil's Bargain isn't urban fantasy, not the way it's written. Nothing paranormal is introduced until the second half of the book. A little late in my opinion. And despite the genre classification on Goodreads, it's not romantic. Expectations and enjoyment while reading suffered as a result.

The paranormal lowdown: Two opposing psychics and a theory about what and who influences human events. There are two types of people: Chorus and Actors. Chorus are people going through the motions, and Actors are influencers with the power to change major events. A person can be either one at different times of their lives. However, Leads are permanent Actors; almost everything they do is important, radically impacting events. The two opposing psychics are master manipulators, puppeteers if you will, pulling strings to further their own agendas, sometimes clashing. Jazz and Lucia are hired as Leads in this ultimate game of chess by the "good" side, working against the avaricious enemy.

Jazz and Lucia's partnership in their PI firm I liken to that of [b:Rachel and Ivy|30264|Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)|Kim Harrison|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347814206s/30264.jpg|30640], respectively. Lucia and Ivy are both moneyed, well-connected and elegant with mad skills executed with sophisticated grace, and act ever-so-slightly aloof. Jazz and Lucia are their opposite, struggling to get by on little money and hard-earned skills and knowledge, painfully blunt in their social interactions and a self-destructive need to save everyone. Unfortunately, where Jazz and Rachel differ is in Jazz's extremely unpleasant personality. She makes a terrible first impression on everyone she meets. Everyone. Perhaps this is down to her ex-police partner's recent incarceration, but her lack of friends is noticeable and very telling.

Ben McCarthy, the imprisoned partner convicted of murder, I seriously believed to be a figment of Jazz's imagination. Though Jazz thinks of him all too often, no credible character made reference to him for the first half of the book - Manny isn't mentally stable and I thought the tiny scene with Stewart could also be a hallucination. The possibility of a schizophrenic, and therefore unreliable, main character intrigued me. And then we meet him, about 60% in, at the prison hospital after being beaten. Several hints were made indicating he'd been raped but sadly, Jazz never picks up on it. A chance to address a sensitive, important and emotive issue missed.

Counselor James Borden, the lawyer who hired Jazz and Lucia, seemed to have an instant, unfathomable crush on Jazz, and her familiarity with him over several short meetings bred lust, though romance never enters into the equation. Borden put up with a lot of crap from the hostile Jazz, including physical manhandling. Most wouldn't have stuck around and got rid of their girlfriend in anticipation of something maybe happening with her, they'd have walked away or retaliated, physically or otherwise.

Traumatised, and now paranoid, super-geek Manny Glickman was the most interesting character, the only one with a past. He just so happens to be the only character I actually liked. I'm glad to hear he also appears in [b:Working Stiff|11396864|Working Stiff (Revivalist #1)|Rachel Caine|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327231096s/11396864.jpg|13686005] which is currently sitting on my bookshelves unread.

I've been encouraged to view this as a conspiracy thriller with paranormal elements but, honestly, I wasn't thrilled. Temptation to DNF saw me scan a few reviews to see if there was anything objectionable I could use as a reason to walk away other than "this is boring". No specific objective is available for the characters to pursue, only the red envelopes with their oddly benign instructions provide any real mystery; who issues them and why? During that time the audience is strung along with shoot 'em up action which isn't particularly compelling without a reason for the duo to be hunted down and killed, which come much later.

Structurally, I find this novel frustrating. Meeting Ben earlier, having Jazz's investigation into his conviction take centre stage to focus the story, revealing the truth about the red envelopes sooner, and softening Jazz's attitude, would've proved a more engaging read. ( )
  Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
Pretty good. An older novel first published in the UK. See my full review at puretextuality.com

3.75 Stars ( )
  Fidget78 | Jan 5, 2014 |
Jazz is an ex-police officer whose life was well and truly derailed by her partner being arrested – and convicted – for murder. Quitting her job and leaving some hostile officers behind who would love to lock her away as well, she is determined to have him proven innocent and validate herself, her judge of character and the trust she placed in him. And silent that nagging doubt at the back of her own mind.

Then there comes an offer that seems more than too good to be true. Funding and guaranteed cases to set up a PI firm – something she had tried to do but failed to get the financing for. And there’s only one catch – she needs to work with a partner, Lucia Garza, ex-FBI agent who is looking for a challenge and a less structured work place.

They’re both duly wary but they quickly work well together and even if it is too good to be true, who turns down such an offer? Even if there are guys who seem to be willing to fight – and even kill them – since the offer arrived.

But, in between their other cases, they complete their benefactors cases. Cases which seem both trivial and bemusing. It’s only when these seemingly benign cases are connected to a murder; revealing a much larger and more bizarre reason for their recruitment.

For a long time I thought I’d made a mistake with this book. I thought “Devil’s Bargain” was entirely metaphorical and there was no supernatural elements at all. I thought I’d actually picked up a standard mystery without any magic, vampires, angels or even a slightly confused Christmas elf.

And I was fine with that.

Which is saying a lot for me. Unrepentant geek that I am, I have little time or interest in books which don’t contain some element of the fantastic. Aliens, vampires or elves, it has to have something non-mundane to keep me interested. But this book I was quite happy to keep on reading without the supernatural.

The main reason for that was probably the characters. I loved Jazz and I loved how she and Lucia bounce off each other. They did fit together perfectly – and yes, it was a little freaky how quickly and amazingly they gelled (but explained within the book) – but they did gel so well. They’re funny, they’re witty, their skills go together – and even with Lucia having so many qualifications, Jazz still fits in with useful skills and additions, she isn’t the junior partner. We don’t face a classic situation of the cool, competent one and the spunky, inept yet plucky and lucky one. They’re both competent, both capable, both extremely good at their job and both bring unique elements to the partnership. I even love how she bounces off Pansy, and she only has a bit role. In fact, this is what makes the book for me – all the characters, even Manny and Pansy who are in such minor roles, are such great characters in their own right.

Read more ( )
  FangsfortheFantasy | Sep 20, 2013 |
headless woman cover
  romsfuulynn | Apr 28, 2013 |
*I received a free ARC of this book from Harlequin UK via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

This book is genius! Jazz and Lucia are two strong, honest women who are very good at what they do.

This and other reviews can also be found at (un)Conventional Bookviews.


Devil’s Bargain isn’t what it seems when you only read the title. But it does have a great story with a mystery and some things that are difficult to explain. Two strong women are the main characters, and this made Devil’s Bargain even more enjoyable.

( )
  Lexxie | Apr 23, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0373513674, Mass Market Paperback)

Jasmine "Jazz" Callender is on the downhill slide to ruin. Once a decorated homicide detective, she's lost it all: her former partner's been convicted of murder, she's been cashiered out, and she's drinking away what little self-respect she's got left. But Jazz has a talent for trouble, and somebody knows it. When a mysterious, sexy stranger comes looking for her with a fateful red envelope in his hand, she's about to make the deal of her life...for good or bad.

The deal requires her to enter into a partnership with a stranger and investigate cases that arrive in special red envelopes...which is odd enough, but gets weirder as she and her new partner Lucia realize that they may be working for someone with supernatural abilities.

And maybe they're not on the side of the angels anymore.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:33 -0400)

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