Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king's fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river. It's there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime, ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right.
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Josetta is a princess of one of the Five Families. But she is far from the throne, so she is free to spend her days working in the poorest sections of the city. Rafe Adova, an outcast since he was born, lives the life of a career gambler in those slums. He has no ambition other than cheating at the card tables - until the night he decides to help a girl named Corene, who looks like she's stumbled into the wrong bar.
As one of the four princesses of Welce, Corene always thought she might one day become queen. Only circumstances changed, leaving fiery Corene with nothing to show for a life spent playing the game of court intrigue - until a chance arises to become the ruler of a nearby country. After stowing away on a ship bound for Malinqua with her loyal bodyguard, Foley, Corene must try to win the throne by making a play to marry one of the empress' three nephews.
Leah Frothen has returned home to rebuild the life she's avoided for years. But she can scarcely catch her breath before she is summoned to meet with the regent, Darien Serlast, the man who made her a spy. Leah is reluctant to take on a new assignment, but Darien has dangled the perfect lure to draw her in. Leah finds she enjoys the challenges of opening a shop catering to foreign visitors, especially since it affords her the opportunity to get to know Mally, the child she abandoned five years ago.