It's 1885, and all Nora Shipley wants, now that she's graduating from Cornell University as valedictorian of the entomology program, is to follow in her late father's footsteps by getting her master's degree and taking over the scientific journal he started. The only way to uphold her father's legacy is to win a scholarship, so she joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field.
India isn't what she expects though, and neither is the rival classmate who accompanies her, Owen Epps. As her preconceptions of India-and of Owen-fall away, she finds both far more captivating than she expected. Forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will. In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices-between saving Sita and saving her career and between what she's always thought she wanted and the man she's come to love.