Seventeen-year-old Claire Emerson’s inventor father believes her touch is magic, that her skin-to-skin touch grants a person their deepest wish. Claire is not so sure. All she wants is to escape her crazed father and the power-hungry general he works for, both of whom want to use her powers to achieve their own ends. But in the First American Kingdom, a monarchial dynasty divided into provinces and ruled by governors, there is no such thing as female independence. Claire’s only hope of escape is through marriage. Claire’s plans to run away are thwarted when she catches the eye of the young, untried Governor Remy Duchamp. Taken by force to the Governor’s mansion, Claire is uncertain what the Governor wants from her. All she learns is that Remy, too, feels her power. Gradually, amidst political intrigue, continued threats from her father and the General, and even from her most trusted friend Beatrix, Claire and Remy learn to trust one another. But is it real?
Set in an alternative America, the premise of this story is intriguing. The First American Kingdom feels real, and the struggles between the provinces and the fight for female suffrage are believable. The plot moves quickly with many twists and a multitude of villains. Unfortunately, the magic, the driving force in this story—everyone wants Claire for her magic—is weak. Many questions surround Claire’s power—even whether it is real or not—and magic in general. This is the first book in a duology and many readers may be disappointed with the ending. Those who enjoy cliff-hangers will be pleased. Written for young adult readers.