Radiance (Wraith Kings #1) by Grace Draven (2015)


Fiction | Romance | Fantasy | (TV-MA)
4.5 stars


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.”

pooled ink Review:

Charlie Bowater (whom is an amazing artist – particularly known for her fan art of Sarah J. Maas’ characters) mentioned this book so of course I had to find out more and the next thing I knew I had purchased it, downloaded it onto my Nook, and read the entire book in one sitting. It’s not perfect or very long, but I fell in love with it and didn’t care at all about any imperfections.

This book was beautiful and I loved it. Definitely for fans of slow-burn romance and fantasy. Mostly romance. And it all begins with an arranged political marriage.

Most books I’ve read throw their characters together as allies in the midst of action and survival where they learn to trust each other, appreciate each other, and eventually love each other in a sudden fiery burning passion. Many of these stories begin with a girl fleeing the palace to avoid an arranged marriage. Radiance is vastly different.

Ildiko and Brishen are spares in the royal household. They are too important to waste but not so important as to care about and because of this they are thrown together by their kingdoms to be married as a sign of good faith on both sides of a new alliance. While neither particularly relishes the idea of an arranged marriage they are dutiful and have expected this fate since their birth. They don’t balk and they don’t run and they hold no expectations, even though they have good reason to be disgusted.

Ildiko is a red-haired beauty and a human. Brishen is a handsome yellow-eyed Kai (not human, but an elder race). But despite being attractive to their own kind they find each other physically repulsive and admit as much unwittingly when they run into each other in the royal gardens hours before their wedding. But what makes this romance bloom is that they both have such good hearts and are truthful with a blunt and simple honesty from the start. Although he terrifies her, Ildiko is not blind to his goodness and kindness. She puts duty first by accepting the marriage but shows her own strength and goodness by actively taking an interest in understanding the Kai (their language, their facial expressions, their food, their nocturnal lives), and this is something Brishen does not miss and in fact greatly admires.

They find each other ugly, and they are an odd couple to behold: a human and a non-human. Both courts sympathize for their own but Brishen is proud of Ildiko and Ildiko is happy with Brishen. As far as arranged marriages go they both count themselves lucky, for although they are not physically attracted to each other they have both been blessed with a partner who is strong, kind, intelligent, humorous, gentle, honest, and determined. But of course, emotions are powerful things. Hatred can turn beauty into hideousness, and love can turn repulsion into beauty.

I love love love how this story grew from mutual duty into friendship and eventually into love so deep they cannot be shaken by enemies or allies. Neither plays games or wastes their time with empty niceties. They are honest and straightforward and through this they find a friendship.

Ugh the romance was just so slow and sweet!

There’s also the interesting world-building and scheming plots of the kingdoms, but mostly what ignites this book is the relationship between Ildiko and Brishen.

To be honest this is not the most polished book, it could have used another round or two of edits mostly to catch typos, and it’s not particularly complex. It’s a simple fantasy in many ways but something about the love between Brishen and Ildiko stole away the hours and kept me captivated and floating with a warm fuzzy happiness buzzing inside me.

Is it a masterpiece? I suppose not…and yet, I’ve completely fallen for it.

Radiance walks step by step as a prince of the night marries a human of the sun and they find their way through merging worlds becoming acquainted with each other’s strangeness, growing in a deeper friendship, and finding themselves stunned by a love they never thought possible. Slow-burning, surprisingly lovely, and simply radiant, this fantasy romance is an underdog that holds its own in a world saturated by the quick and demanding.


amazon icon_tiny Purchase here: Radiance 

Similar Recommended Reads: Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Meet Grace Draven!

Grace Draven

I’m an author and Louisiana native living in Texas with my husband, three smalls and a big doofus dog. I have lived in Spain, hiked the Teton Mountains, honeymooned in Scotland, ridden in competition rodeo and am the great great granddaughter of a Nicaraguan president. I also hate doing laundry and refuse to iron anything.

I’ve loved storytelling since forever. I published my first short story with Amber Quill Press and have since written several other tales. A love of the bad boy in fiction always inspires me.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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3 thoughts on “Radiance

  1. I agree with you completely in regards to this book, I read it a while ago and love it…It’s the type of story that grows on you…their romance is adorable and it’s true…it makes you disregard the mistakes it may have….It is a series (all books are a series nowdays) but I haven’t read the rest I need to pick them up ….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it’s definitely the type of story that grows on you! I haven’t read the other books either (why is everything a series these days?). Part of me is okay just reading this one as a standalone but I’m curious so I might end up buying the rest. I’ve heard some people mention that only the first two books have Brishen and Ildiko as the main characters though so maybe I’ll just read those two… 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

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