Joint Review: Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1) by Grace Draven

Publisher: Grace Draven
Where did you get the book: e-ARC and purchased
Release date: Out now
Reviewed by Has & Lou


Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.


Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

Lou: Has and I have been a fan of Grace Draven’s books for some time, though it took my usual slowass self to finally read Master of Crows a few years back. When I did, I cursed myself for not reading it sooner. Grace Draven is one of the best fantasy romance authors publishing today. Her worldbuilding is exquisite with its uniqueness and her characters are always full of life. Then there’s the romance. OMG. Her romances are so fucking good. Radiance is aptly titled.

Has: Oh, I agree with everything with what you said, although I don’t think its a secret on how we feel about Grace and her books. I also agree that the title is perfect because this was a beautiful and radiant romance that really shines with the love story between two different people. Along with the worldbuilding which was absorbing and a great setup for political intrigue and future plot threads. Ildiko and Brishen were engaging leads. I loved their first meeting with each other, which set up the tone of the romance of two outcasts amongst their people who find common ground. The book also has Grace Draven’s trademark humour and she has a wicked gift of witty dialogue that adds a fantastic layer to the romance.

Lou: I love a slow-burn romance and Radiance delivers a romance that is first built upon true friendship. Ildiko and Brishen’s first meeting showed mutual respect and potential friendship when they bonded over good-natured insults over how ugly they both thought each other. It was so humorous and despite the stark difference of their people (the Kai’s living times are during the night), both Gauri and Kai had the exact same concerns about each other’s people way of life, especially their horrid food. The potato description from Kai POV was hilarious. It almost put me off potatoes!

What always impresses with Grace’s books is the richness and depth she gives to her worlds. I loved the idea that the power of the Kai are weakened individually with every new birth. The Kai were not so different to the Gauri when it came to keeping up appearances. Politics and court intrigue and gossip both play a huge part, considering the ranks of Ildiko and Brishen. But the Kai did have a more brutal and harsh way of living, well, at least Brishen’s mother did. What an evil monster she was towards others and her own family. Grace did a fantastic job in creating a dark villain that took me by complete surprise.

Has: In a lot of ways Radiance really feels like a set up for a bigger story and there is a sequel called Eidolon slated for later this year. However, that’s not to say this is an incomplete or short story. I was left very satisfied–albeit wanting more–when I reached the end of the story because I loved the romance and the rich, detailed world which sucked me in. I loved that the focus was on Brishen and Ildiko and their romance which slowly sizzled with tension and passion as well a sweet undertone. I love this trope of two different people and cultures who find common ground and love. Especially when it becomes a sanctuary in a bloodthirsty world which they live in. And I am also looking forward to seeing how things will evolve and pan out with Brishen’s mother and her power play games which are brutal and bloody for Brishen and Ildiko.

Lou: The romance was utterly romantic. Low on angst and tension and yet it worked so beautifully. It was very tender and I really can reread Grace’s books over and over again and never tire of her characters. I loved that it was the external plot and worldbuilding that helped bridge Brishen and Ildiko together. At the start of the book, they both think each other hideous. There’s no ugly duckling turning into swans. They really think each other hideous, especially when Ildiko rolled her human eyes, which again was full of humour with Brishen freaking out completely. Their friendship, respect and then love for each other is what brings their attraction to life. It really was beautiful. I can’t wait to read more about Ildiko and Brishen in the sequel because their relationship has only just started and I feel there is so much more to explore in this world, especially Brishen’s mother and what she unleashed upon the world.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you love fantasy romance, please pick up this book to read. If you don’t love fantasy romance, please give it a try anyway. It’s that good.

I give Radiance an A

Has: Everything was refreshing with the way Grace Draven handled these tropes. I loved that despite their differences and initial repulsiveness, which they dealt with humour, it was great to see that their romance didn’t have forced angst or obstacles which wouldn’t have worked. From their witty and humorous banter, to the great build up of romantic tension, this was a fabulous and enjoyable romance with a wonderful and imaginative setting. I also hope that the hinted clues for a secondary romance happens with Brishen’s cousin and a neighbouring Lord. But I am with Lou, I really do think this is a breakout book and a wonderful start to a memorable romance and series.

I also give Radiance an A

7 thoughts on “Joint Review: Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1) by Grace Draven”

  1. It is a great fantasy but what I loved was Ildiko and Brishen’s realistic behavior. They both behave as people who always expected to have an arranged-marriage. It is a little odd because they are different species but they both take that in stride. There is no brooding, crying, or running away. Just two adults acting like adults and treating each other with respect. It is so different from what I expect from an arranged marriage book but in the end it was so romantic.

  2. @Amanda: Totally agree! Tension and internal and external conflict is usually what keeps the couple apart in romances but the lack of conflict between these two worked perfectly.

    @aurian: I think there’s a paperback version on Amazon via createspace. It’s a wonderful book.

  3. It is a wonderful, wonderful book. The romance is so satisfying–as a reader, I believe these two will make it, despite the many obstacles already in their way (and those to come…)

  4. The descriptions were amazing and several times I completely cracked up on the “food issues.” It was just a really fantastic read.

  5. I discovered Grace Draven through your reviews, for which I will be forever grateful. I completely agree with everything you said above and this book is an A read for me (I have such a good book hangover). The only thing wrong about this book is that I want the next one right now :-).

  6. Pingback: Lou’s Best Reads of 2015 | The Book Pushers | Book Reviews | Book Chatter

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