Jessamin has recently left her sunny island home of Melei to study at the prestigious university in Albion. But she hates the cold Alben weather and the narrow-minded Alben prejudices she is constantly exposed to because of her heritage and skin color. She is determined to endure the next few years and then leave Albion forever, but a chance meeting with a charming nobleman changes the entire course of her life. Finn Ackerley is attractive and wealthy, and he seems to be genuinely interested in Jessamin. He also happens to be an extremely powerful magician, and he possesses secrets that could have dire consequences for both Albion and the entire world. As Finn fights to save his country against the wicked, scheming Lord Downpike, Jessamin is caught in the middle. And when Lord Downpike discovers her relationship with Finn, he doesn’t hesitate to use her as a pawn in his power struggle. Can Jessamin outwit this deadly adversary and help Finn, all while remaining true to herself?
Historical fantasy is a genre I really enjoy, so I was predisposed to like this book, but I was a bit disappointed in the execution. There are a lot of really great ideas in the novel, but I wanted almost all of them to be explored in a lot more depth! For example, even though the book is set in a fictional world, it’s clearly meant to explore the issue of colonialism, but that side of things felt a bit superficial to me. I also loved the magical elements of this world, but in my opinion, the book doesn’t delve deeply enough into the history or the current power struggle with magic. The romance between Jessamin and Finn was adorable, but it also seemed fairly lightweight; I never truly connected with the characters or had particularly strong emotions about them getting together. Finally, the plot is resolved very abruptly in the end. I think all of these issues could have been resolved if the book had been longer, and I feel bad for nitpicking so much because that might have been the publisher’s fault rather than the author’s. And it is a light, enjoyable read; it’s just a bit insubstantial for my taste. But I would certainly try something else by Kiersten White in the future.