Hi, Anon! Thanks for loving my stories : )
This is one question I will always address, because my publisher was very aware that Jessamin was a POC when they were doing the cover. I think the issue is threefold:
One, the publishing industry has made some serious transgressions with whitewashing covers in the past.
Two, when describing a character’s skin as darker than everyone else’s on an England-based fantasy country, there is an entire range of glorious color available to the imagination.
And three, that the light/saturation/[whatever fancy term I don’t know] around the teacup is so high, because the teacup is the visual focal point of the cover. So I can see how it would make it look like her skin there is lighter.
Here is a fuller image of the model:
I imagined Jessamin as from an island similar to one of the (many) Polynesian islands, and that’s what my publisher went with. I’m not sure what the specific racial background of the (ludicrously beautiful) cover model is, but I think she was a great choice. Jessamin herself is of mixed race.
However, I can also see how, if you were imagining Jessamin as from an island more like, say, Haiti, you might think “What did they do to her on the cover??”
You are absolutely welcome to imagine Jessamin however you want. (Oh man, imagine a dream cast for an Illusions of Fate film with Lupita Nyong’o! To be fair, though, I’d cast Lupita Nyong’o as anyone/everyone in anything/everything because honestly. But I’d also cast the cover model as Jessamin in a heartbeat.) That’s the one downside to a cover with a model—it might tell you that your imagination is wrong, which is never the right answer. Your imagination always trumps everything! But please rest assured there was no attempt on the part of my publisher to whitewash either Jessamin or her story.