In a world reminiscent of Georgian England, where married women's magic is taken from them to protect their unborn children, a sorceress must balance her desire to become the first great female magician against her duty to her family.
Beatrice is a sorceress who practices her magic in secret, terrified of the day she will marry and be locked into a collar that will cut off her magic to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus, permitted to pursue magic as her calling just as men do. But her family has traveled to the city for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means socialize and negotiate to secure the best marriages. Beatrice's family is in severe debt, and she is expected to make an advantageous match.
In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus - but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. When Beatrice summons a minor spirit to help her get it back, the spirit exacts a price: Beatrice's first kiss - with the rival sorceress's brother, the handsome and compassionate Ianthe Lavan.
As Beatrice becomes more entangled with the Lavan siblings, the choices that once seemed clear become harder: if she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and destroy her chance to be with the man she loves; but if she marries - even for love - she will lose her magic, her dreams, and everything that makes her who she is. Beatrice must choose one - and regret the other forever.
C. L. Polk wrote her first story in grade school and still hasn't learned any better. After spending years in strange occupations and wandering western Canada, she settled in southern Alberta and is here to stay. She has a fondness for knitting, bicycles, and single estate coffee. C. L. has had short stories published in Baen's UNIVERSE and Gothic.net, and contributed to the web serial Shadow Unit.