Mel Reylan used to be the best magical breaking and entering specialist in Western Washington. Five years ago, after discovering what a colleague planned to do with the pearls she stole for him, she went after the man to stop him. She succeeded, but in the process she destroyed the pearls and unintentionally set off a storm of power that almost killed her. The consequences of this made her choose early retirement, avoid her old colleagues, and do her best to give up magic completely.
She also continued avoiding what's left of her family. Mel's uncle is on the regional governing council of the Kin, the world-wide organization which holds magic in check, enforcing the rules that Mel was accustomed to breaking. Her sister has become one of the Kinís rising stars. Mel herself never had the option of joining the Kin. They only accept those born with the ability to use magic and, like her father, Mel was born without it. The fact that she wasn't content with this and became the first person in over three hundred years to forcibly acquire magical talents is the main reason she avoids her family and the rest of the Kin. It's also the reason she's still alive.
Now Mel's old employer, the head of the area's organization of magical criminals, suspects Mel's uncle of being involved in murder and drags her into his investigation. As she finds herself slipping back into old habits she also finds that the differences between her forced talent and those of normal magic-users may be more significant than she realized. On top of this the man who hired her five years ago shows up again, wild magic begins appearing where it ought to be strictly controlled, and Mel begins to suspect that there is more going on than anyone is guessing. But finding the truth and averting catastrophe will mean facing her past as well as the power she turned away from five years ago.