The Society for Esoteric Arts are the people who regulate magic in this world and they wield an iron rod. When a new magician is found they are obliged to join the order and contribute to the empire. When you are found and if you are found to be powerful you are bid on by various mages and this can be the difference between gentile poverty heading to bankruptcy and living a good life. This is the case with the Gunns, their son is not powerful, but their daughter is; however the daughter has no value, so their son and daughter have to combine forces to appear more powerful.
Charlotte finds herself caught up in a nefarious plot that could kill her father, she has to buy time but buying time is more complicated than it seems and one of the mages bidding on her brother is a little too interested in her.
I enjoyed this, Emma Newman is an author I enjoy reading.