Rose is finally settling into St Vladimir's for Christmas when all of a sudden her mother, the famous Janine Hathaway, visits her at school. Rose harbours hostile emotions to her mother, who rarely visits and left her to the care of the school at an early age. She gets into a verbal attack with her mother during her Defence lesson where she implies that the only reason Janine kills Strigoi is in order to gain the 'Molnija marks' as a trophy.
Rose meets Christian and Lissa ice-skating on the school grounds, where she meets Christian's aunt, Tasha Ozera, who has a beautiful but scared face due to fighting off Christian's Strigoi parents when they came seeking to turn him into Strigoi. Rose enjoys Tasha's company and urges Dimitri to take her Christmas shopping. The next day, Rose finds out that Dimitri is still tired from driving Tasha to the stores so her mother is leading their extra training session. Rose provokes Janine's temper by bringing up her father and Janine retaliates by punching Rose in the eye.
Later her mother comes by to give her a Christmas gift after the Christmas dinner where she gives Rose a 'Nazar (evil eye)' pendant. Rose then learns from her mother that Tasha has propositioned Dimitri into being her Guardian and also being with her sexually so that they can have kids together and further the dying-Damphir race. Rose, though grateful for the gift, is stunned and hurt by this revelation and so she dismisses her mother.
The students are taken to a ski resort for Christmas where Rose grows closes to her friend Mason and realizes the extent of his affections for her. She feels guilty because her heart lies with Dimitri but is determined to forget about him knowing that he is going to take Tasha up on her offer. Thus, she begins to start unofficially dating Mason.
Rose bumps into Adrian Ivashkov, a royal Lord, who flirts with her and is intrigued by her. He senses that she is shadow-kissed and that Lissa is Spirit-born. Adrian too is a spirit-born and revels in this fact. Rose gets into a war of words with Mia, her school enemy, where Mia reveals to Adrian that Rose's mother punched her in the face. Rose is humiliated but Adrian is understanding. During the trip, Rose learns of Strigoi attacks that are seeking out the Royals. Mia's mother was one of the victims of the attack.
A intervention is held, whereby Moroi's decide on the best course of action to take. In this meeting, Tasha encourages all Moroi to take action by using their elemental powers and cries of outrage meet her claim. Mason and Rose get closer and nearly have sex but Rose stops herself as she cannot bring herself to because she is still in love with Dimitri. Rose attends a party with Lissa where she sees Adrian again and he flirts with her. Rose's mother finds her and tells her she is dressed inappropriately. Dimitri finds Rose and comforts her and tells her he will not take Tasha up on her offer because he is in love with Rose. Rose goes to break up with Mason but finds out that Mia, Mason and Eddie have all travelled out to Spokane to find the Strigoi and hunt them down.
Christian and her go after them and find them safe. However, as they are leaving to return to the ski resort they are captured and held hostage by two powerful Strigoi who play mind games with them. They feed off Eddie whilst keeping Rose, Mia, Christian and Mason alive so that they can willingly accept being turned into Strigoi.
However, Rose tells Christian to use his fire magic to burn off the rope's they are retained with and a fight issues between Rose and the two vampires. Rose has nearly finished off both when Mason returns to help her and the vampire breaks Mason's neck, thereby killing him. Fuelled, by anger, Rose cuts of the vampire's head and succeeds in killing him.
Rose grieves Mason's death and feels as though she is at fault because she told Mason where the Strigoi were located. She seeks comfort from her mother. Later, back at St Vladimir's, Rose sees Dimitri who reiterates his love for her and kisses her.