Born out of wedlock, Brienna is cast off by her noble family and sent to Magnolia House - a boarding house for those looking to study the passions: art, music, dramatics, wit and knowledge. Brienna must discover her passion and train hard to perfect her skill, in the hope that she will one day graduate and be chosen by a wealthy patron, looking to support one of the 'impassioned'.
As Brienna gets closer to the eve of her graduation, she also grows closer to her smart (and handsome) tutor, Cartier. He can sense that she is hiding a secret, but Brienna chooses not to reveal that she is experiencing memories of her ancestors - memories uncovering the mysteries of the past that may have dangerous consequences in the present.
A daring plot is brewing - to overthrow the usurper king and restore the rightful monarchy - and Brienna's memories hold the key to its success. Cartier desperately wants to help Brienna, but she must chose her friends wisely, keep her enemies close and trust no one if she is to save herself and her people.