Set in an alternate ancient earth, Baited Breath tells the story of Aethra, a girl with shapeshifting abilities whose life has an excess of responsibility and expectation. When circumstances force her to leave her home at the bottom of the sea and move to surface-land, her ability is no longer an asset; she must struggle to keep it hidden from a greedy king that would kill for her power.
Aethra's younger sister, Larke, is different from other people living in the undersea city of Charis; she can’t shapeshift, and she doesn't have gills. Navigating problems typical to those with disabled siblings, Aethra struggles to contain her overprotectiveness and give Larke room for independence. While their community makes an effort to accommodate her sister’s difference, producing an elixir to allow her to breathe underwater, Aethra’s sometimes zealous demands for more accommodation, alienates her. When a shark attack reveals the potion has a side effect causing a dangerous medical condition, Aethra and her family must move away from all they know for Larke’s safety.
On surface-land, Larke thrives, but Aethra and her mother are now at a disadvantage. They live in constant danger of discovery. Miserable, Aethra desperately seeks a cure to fix her sister so they can go back home. When Larke finally finds what she needs, Aethra will discover her sister never needed to be fixed, and unconditional love doesn’t preclude meeting one’s own needs.