Corie is the illegitimate daughter of a lord, but for most of her life has lived for each summer with that family. She adores her older sister Elisandra, who is engaged to marry Prince Bryan, who will one day be King.
The story starts with Corie taking a trip to the borders of the Alora kingdom with her Uncle Jaxon, Prince Bryan, Bryan’s cousin Kent, and a young guardsman named Roderick. Jaxon is a famous Alora hunter – these fair folk, when captured, are sold for huge sums of money. There are several living at Castle Auburn.
What this story is, is really a coming of age story. Corie’s still young in this first journey, and witnesses a few things about the Alora that will color her views for years to come. That journey is also part of the last summer where she’s a child in Castle Auburn. In future summers, she starts to learn that these trips are not all about being able to visit with her sister, but that the adults all have plans for her as well.
Corie’s got a mind of her own, however, and since she lives the rest of the year with her grandmother, a wise woman, she has the tools to control her own life. As her sister’s marriage to the prince approaches, and Bryan proves to be a more and more erratic young man, Corie must make some big decisions about how she’ll live her life, and how she’ll help those she loves. It’s a really sweet story in the end – I’m really glad I happened upon it.