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The Prince of no value
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.

The noblewoman of no importance
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.

297 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 11, 2015

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About the author

Grace Draven

48 books6,510 followers
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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,086 reviews
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 10 books7,510 followers
April 15, 2018
"You find me ugly, don't you?"
"Hideous. A hag of a woman. And you? You don't think me a handsome man?"
"Had you crawled out from under my bed when I was a child, I would have bludgeoned you to death with my father's mace."

*falls over laughing*

The above takes place between our two main characters, Brishen Khaskem, a Kai prince with gray skin, solid yellow eyes, razor claws for fingernails, and teeth meant for tearing flesh, and Ildiko, a human woman who happens to be the niece of a king.

They're destined to marry, and for that, everyone pities them. The two races find each other physically repulsive, and as you can tell, that extends to our MCs.

While their appearances couldn't be more different, their souls share a kinship. They're both witty, intelligent, and quick to laugh. Which basically means that their interactions are frigging hysterical.

They first meet just before their wedding, and recognizing this kinship in each other, form an alliance based on mutual respect and honesty.


Their marriage is one that will secure an alliance between their kingdoms, and while both were pushed into it, neither one resents it.


What follows can only be described as one hell of a love story, set against the backdrop of a world balanced on the brink of war. As there is no physical attraction between them (at first *waggles brows*), Brishen and Ilkido form a fast friendship. This love story is a slow burn, a realistic joining together of two souls with more meaningful things to draw them to each other.

Like compatibility.

I just blew your mind, didn't I? Trust me, this book blew mine. It was so incredibly refreshing to actually buy into a relationship for once, an ACTUAL relationship, and not just people lusting after each other for no frigging reason aside from the OMG, ABS/OMG, BOOBS that dominates most romance novels.

My only complaint is that I wish there were more to this. I wish Draven delved deeper into this world. I wish there were more descriptions of journeys, surroundings, and cities.

But honestly, that tells you just how much I enjoyed being in this world. And how sad I was to leave it.

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Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
May 5, 2020
wow y'all were right about this,
maybe friends to lovers is superior
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
530 reviews34.5k followers
July 25, 2020
”Had you crawled out from under my bed when I was a child, I would have bludgeoned you to death with my father’s mace.”

I must admit, this was really something different! *lol* I mean the book blurb already suggested that this wasn’t going to be your ordinary love story but wow, this one was really something else. XD The concept of arranged marriages between different countries is nothing new, in this case however it aren’t just dissimilar kingdoms but also different species our two protagonists have to deal with. Ildiko is human and Brishen is Kai and I’m pretty sure they couldn’t be any more different even if they tried.

”Thank you for not lying about what you thought of my appearance. You might have a face to turn my hair white, but your honesty is handsome”

Yet, despite all their obvious differences they bond through their humour and the first time they meet had me laughing really hard. Those two are nothing but honest with each other and I loved this so much! They might have totally different cultures, habits and appearances but they are both kind and merry souls. XD Their relationship starts with mutual understanding and at first it’s nothing more than friendship. It was something I really appreciated because they like what’s inside of each other and therefore try to ignore their outside appearances. Well, at least at first.

”Theirs was an agreement based on the beginnings of friendship, respect and an intuitive understanding of each other that still left him slack-jawed with amazement.”

I really couldn’t have said it any better. Ildiko and Brishen don’t have insta-love, they have insta-friendship and I don’t know about you, but for me this was a great approach. They respect each other and their cultures and they try their best to learn what it means to be human or Kai. Still, I’ve to admit that Ildiko has all my respect for putting up with the tradition of eating scarpatine. *shudders* I probably would have screamed and jumped on a chair. *LOL* Also I’m sure I couldn’t have eaten it ... not even if my life would have depended on it. XD

”Loneliness is an empty void. We look for that friend in the light.”

Aaaanyway enough of disgusting Kai dishes, let’s get to the main plot. Truth be told, there isn’t a lot of plot happening but I guess that’s mostly due to the fact that this is supposed to be a love story. At least the first book seems to be. After the ending I’m pretty sure that we’ll get a lot more action in “Eidolon”. ;-) With the first book Grace Draven prepared us for the world Ildiko and Brishen live in and I’m convinced that everything we learned in “Radiance” will be important once we start with book two.

”I will not shame you with my fear, Brishen,” she whispered against his neck.
He sighed into her hair. “But I might shame you with mine, wife.”

Kai politics seem to be pretty brutal and I don’t even want to know about the consequences the ending will have... Also I’m convinced that there was a lot more to what happened in the last third of the book. At the moment I can only speculate but I hope that I’ll get answers when I read “Eidolon”. Plus I want more of Anhuset and Serovek! *lol* I really liked those two and they were great side characters I definitely want to know more about! ;-)

”My beautiful husband,” she said. “I see radiance.”

All told “Radiance” was a nice change to all the serious books I usually tend to read. XD The books approach was something refreshing and new and I found myself enjoying the slow-burn love story between our two protagonists Ildiko and Brishen. The concept of insta-friendship is the kind of trope I’d love to see more in books and now that their relationship is solid I’m ready to go for the plot! Let’s see what “Eidolon” will throw our way. ;-P


Okay, but WTH was this ending?!! O_o

“Radiance” was a really nice and sweet romance and even though the fantasy aspect was rather in the background I still enjoyed this A LOT!

I don’t understand anything that happened at the end though and urgh I guess I might just have to read the second book?! *lol* Well done, Grace Draven! ;-P

Full RTC soon-ish! Stay tuned! =)

We all know those kinds of stories:

- A girl from a royal family.
- A prince and the spare heir to a throne.
- Two strangers.
- An arranged marriage.

- And they both think the other is ugly af? *lol*

Wait, WHAT?!
Yes, you read right!

Their beauty ideals couldn’t be more different, but apparently they still fall in love.
Sounds like a great love story and I’m here for it! ;-P

P.S: This was recommended to me about a thousand times, let’s hope it’s as good as everybody says it is. XD
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.2k followers
June 26, 2020
Apparently 2020 chelsea likes fantasy?????? Wild. But anyway THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN AND I LIKED IT A WHOLE HECK OF A LOT. If you enjoy fantasy and want to read a fast and fun romance with so! much! mutual respect between the main couple, you gotta check this one out.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,160 followers
April 3, 2018
Dear book, please marry me. Much like the characters in this story, I don't even mind that you have a super ugly cover. I love you anyway.
Love, Jilly.

This book is the best thing ever. It's like Beauty and the Beast if they were both beasts. Beast and the Beast. Oh man. We need that movie. Someone call Disney!

The story begins with our couple on their wedding day. They are two different species and are being married off to set an alliance in place between their kingdoms. He is grey (not sure how many shades. let's say 49 or so), has giant razor-sharp teeth and claws, and alien eyes that are all one color. Here is what she says about his appearance:

"Had you crawled out from under my bed when I was a child, I would have bludgeoned you to death with my father's mace."

She looks like a normal girl to us. Red hair, white skin. Basic. But, to him, SHE is hideous. Her teeth remind him of horse's teeth. Her eyes, having whites and pupils, freak him the hell out. He sees her eyes and sees this:

But, they are both good-natured, and funny, so they immediately like each other's personality. They decide to be friends and you will love them as friends. They are adorable! They tease each other:

She drew a circle on his chin with her fingertip. "Your skin color reminds me of a dead eel I once saw on the beach."

"Wolf," she said softly.
"Horse," he replied just as quietly.

There is danger all around them. Not everyone is happy about this alliance between their kingdoms. Also, his mother is kind of a bitch and may or may not try to kill her new daughter-in-law just for the hell of it.

Her: "your mother is...."
Him: "A soulless creature with a thirst for murder."

At first, I thought, "Hey, who's mother in law isn't a soulless creature with a thirst for murder?" But, this lady made the rest of the other mother in law's have to hang their heads in shame. They need to up their game if they want to live up to the precedent she is setting.

As the book goes on, these two ugly creatures fall in love, and it's a romantic tale of finding the inner beauty of your one true love.

I guess you can say that this hideously ugly book cover is just like the story. Horrible, even to the point of embarrassing-looking on the outside, but amazing and beautiful within.

Yada yada yada.... inner beauty...

Even more true.
December 16, 2017
5 Woman of day Prince of night Stars

Some Spoilers

“You find me ugly, don’t you?” Brishen had faced abominations on the battlefield without flinching, leapt into the thick of the fighting against creatures born from the nightmares of lesser demons. Not once had he been tempted to run away in fear. Now, his leg muscles rippled with the urge to flee. He clenched his teeth instead, prayed he wouldn’t start a war with their newest ally and answered honestly. “Hideous,” he said. “A hag of a woman.”-Ildiko and Brishen

Wow this book....my feels....OMG! So a couple years back Radiance reviews were blowing up my news feed, so of course I check out the synopsis and put this book in my maybe list. See I am a hardcore romance reader and when I got the deets on this book I thought it would be more Fantasy and very little romance. But as time went on this book still kept popping into my mind so I decided to go to Youtube and try to find a review of Radiance on there. There I found one of my favorite booktubers, Fangirl Musings, did a review on it and I was totally sold. I went straight to Amazon and bought me a copy. Here is the link if you would like to watch it.


“You don’t think me a handsome man?” She shrugged. “I’ve only seen your hands and eyes. For all I know, you’re hiding the face of a sun spirit in that hood.” Brishen scoffed at the idea. “Hardly.” He’d never lacked female company, and his people thought him well-favored. Certainly nothing as wretched as a sun spirit. He slid the hood back to his shoulders. The woman’s eyes rounded. She inhaled a harsh breath and clasped one hand to her chest. Her mollusk skin went a far more attractive shade of ash. She remained silent and stared at him until he raised a hand in question. “Well?” She exhaled slowly. The space between her eyebrows stitched into a single vertical frown line. “Had you crawled out from under my bed when I was a child, I would have bludgeoned you to death with my father’s mace.”-Brishen and Ildiko

So 13 hours later here I sit wanting to kick my own ass for having waited so long to pick this book up. It was a sweet, totally different and emotional read that has me running straight back to Amazon to get book 2!

“Will you be that for me, Ildiko,” he said. “That beacon in the void?”-Brishen

Ildiko was the human niece of the Gauri King. Brishen was the 2nd born prince of the Kai kingdom and he was not human. They were to be married to form an alliance between the Kai and Gauri. The thing I was most drawn to in this story was the fact that both the hero and heroine think each other ugly. Like scary ugly lol. Brishen was so sexy. I don't care that he had grey skin, solid white eyes with no other color in them, and blades for teeth and nails he was damn sexy! He was so protective and respectful of his wife Ildiko. He may not have thought she was pretty but he was honest with her and was faithful to her. He supported her and treated her well from the very start. I loved how his admiration for her grows to such a strong love. Ildiko was amazing. She was married to a scary looking non human and shipped off to live with his people and she shined. She was all alone, the only human in Kai, with an evil Queen mother- n- law that treated her like crap and tried to kill her. She was mocked, and ostracized, but she never let anyone get the best of her. She stood up for herself to the queen, stood proud among all the stares, and was brave when it was called for. She was also supportive and caring to her husband. She did her best to be a good wife to Brishen.

“You are also a princess of the blood through marriage, a member of the royal family. My wife. Every Kai in that room owes you their allegiance and respect. I will cut out any tongue that would try and besmirch you, Ildiko.” He pressed his lips to her palm. The tiniest crack appeared in her serene composure. Her mouth twitched with the hint of a smile. “Or bury an axe blade in their heads?” His guilt over his inability to rescue her from his own family eased a little at her humor. “I’m adept with spear and sword as well. Just name who you want me to skewer for you.”-Brishen and Ildiko

Ildiko and Brishen had a slow burn love. They started with friendship and respect and fell madly in love with each other. I thought the sex in this book was passionate and sweet and I was glad they waited until they fell in love before having a sexual relationship. Brishen and Ildiko had such a great and strong relationship it was palpable. Something that made me laugh was Brishen thought Ildiko's eyes looked like parasites rolling around in her skull so she would cross her eyes just to freak him out. The secondary characters in this book were great too. I really liked Brishen's cousin Anhuset and I also really liked Brishen and Ildiko's neighbor and friend Serovek. I think there is a love connection there and I can't wait to see if I'm right. I want to say that I truly hated Brishen's mom. She was a nasty bitch and I laughed at the end when she got hers. I held off on reading Radiance because I thought it would be heavy Fantasy and low romance I was wrong. This book is a light Fantasy and it's main focus is this sweet couple falling in love. I'm on to book 2.....

“It’ll be hard not to tease your folk sometimes.” Brishen couldn’t imagine how she might go about such a thing. He had no idea if the Kai and the Gauri even knew the same jokes or found the same things funny. “What do you mean?” He almost leapt out of his skin when Ildiko stared at him as both of her eyes drifted slowly down and over until they seemed to meet together, separated only by the elegant bridge of her nose. “Lover of thorns and holy gods!” he yelped and clapped one hand across her eyes to shut out the sight. “Stop that,” he ordered. Ildiko laughed and pushed his hand away. She laughed even harder when she caught sight of his expression. “Wait,” she gasped on a giggle. “I can do better. Want to see me make one eye cross and have the other stay still?” Brishen reared back. “No!” He grimaced. “Nightmarish. I’ll thank you to keep that particular talent to yourself, wife.” -Ildiko and Brishen
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,611 followers
January 23, 2022
Reread 2022. Listened to the audio and enjoyed it. My old goofy review is still down below from 2015


MY BLOG Melissa Martin's Reading List


So Ildiko and Brishen are set up to be married so they can do all of that political crap from the ages that supposedly seals a deal with kingdoms. But.... Ildiko is a beautiful human and Brishen is a handsome Kai and both races think the other is ugly as sin. That would suck monkey butt!

The Kai are scary to look at because they have nacreous eyes, which are without a pupil or iris. They just glow at you. You know, you could really freak people out good at Halloween in the dark with those eyes. I would be jumping out at people left and right.. anyway... they also have sharp teeth and when they smile at you it looks like your about to be devoured by something from hell. And long nails and grey skin.

But Ildiko and Brishen meet right before their marriage in the garden and they didn't even know it until Ildiko gets ready to go inside and Brishen hears her name being called. Brishen enjoyed their conversation so much that he wants to talk to Ildiko before the wedding so she knows it's him. They share a moment in the garden and they didn't feel so horrified around each other and they were "honest".. yep.. I know it's a foreign word, but they were "honest" and told the truth about how they feel being around each others kind. They told each other how hideous they thought the other was and did that throughout the book until a turning point.



A hard pounding on the door warned them their private meeting was over. Brishen presented his arm to Ildiko. "Ready to get shackled, madam?"

She rested her hand in the crook of his elbow. "Try not to smile too widely, Your Highness. You'll scare the children in the crowd>"


Their eating habits are different too and I just loved these parts!



"Brishen, there will be a riot if you spit it out."
He clamped his lips tightly closed and swallowed. There wasn't enough wine or ale in the world to kill the revolting smear coating his tongue, but he drained his goblet and Ildiko's before signaling a servant for more. The Kai continued to watch him, and he glared at every one of them until they picked up their own utensils and braved their potatoes.

The cheese plate almost did him in, and he had to ask Ildiko twice if the ones speckled a greenish-blue weren't actually bits and pieces of fermented corpses. Her explanation of how the cheese was made had him wishing they'd served fermented corpse instead.


None of the King or Queens of each family are happy but it's the way it is, I must say Brishen's mom is a bitch beyond all bitches. I will let you read the book about her!

On the way back to their home they get attacked by some of these other peeps because they didn't like the two making the union. No, I don't remember their names, it start with a B, bastards in my opinion. Either way, some of the Kai were killed and a whole bunch of bastards. They did a little ceremony with the Kai warriors that I thought was really cool. "Read the book." Oh and Brishen is pretty good with an axe :)


Along, the way they had to spend the night and Ildiko and Brishen got to learn even more about each other by talking. I really liked how they got to know each other slowing before the um..other stuff. And their banter together is the best. See below ↓



She drew a circle on his chin with her fingertip. "Your skin color reminds me of a dead eel I once saw on the beach."

Brishen arched an eyebrow. "Flattering, I'm sure. I thought yours looked like a mollusk we boil to make amaranthine dye."


Ildiko loved Brishen's home and the Kai were getting to know her and kind to her. Amhuset is Brishen's cousin, his lieutenant and second in command. She's a bad ass warrior. Ildiko had to get used to their schedules and sleep mostly during the day as it hurt the Kai's eyes and stay up all night. Party at the castle... well they did have one when they invited some humans they liked across the way in another castle.


Unfortunately, Brishen and Ildiko have to be looking over their backs all of the time as these two people who were once never really thought about, are now targets to evil ones that want them killed. But... on the good side.. they finally found that after so long getting to know each other.. they weren't so hideous, they had feelings.. feelings.. and then...


They realized they loved each other and the sex was awesome! Lord have mercy! Well.. they couldn't kiss proper or he would have sliced her face into little pieces but they figured some stuff out :)

Then one day they are out and about coming back from town and all hell breaks loose and they get attacked again, only this time the Bastards are using arrows that have some kind of poison that paralyzes you. Some bad things happen, their human friend comes to their aide and when they find Brishen, this is Ildiko's command!



Ildiko stared at Brishen, at the shallow rise and fall of his chest as he breathed gurgling breaths. He stank of blood and agony. The wind lifted a strand of his hair, and she caught it between two fingers. It stuck to her skin, matted with gore. Sheh didn't care who hired animals to unleash their savagery.

"Kill them," she said in a flat voice. "Kill them all."


Then if Brishen's damn mother didn't come and visit him after he was better, not all the way as he was mutilated. I'm not saying how or what or what she did but OMG I want them to end her! I got so freaking mad!!!!!


I really loved this book and I am looking forward to the next one! I hope it comes out soon!
Profile Image for Brandi.
329 reviews798 followers
December 12, 2015

Well let me just get comfortable over here in my island – population three – who doesn’t think this book is AHAMZING. Come, come, grab a moss-covered rock to sit on and try not to worry about how dark and lonely it is while I tell you my thoughts.

But first, how in the hell do you pronounce her name? I never settled on one way and it was pretty annoying.

The premise of the book is nothing new: royalty of different nations must wed to bring an alliance to each of their nations and eventually they fall in love. Even with the differences in cultures (because, well, one is human and the other is not – which I thought would be way cooler than it was) this story isn’t new, exciting, or different. The girl was too perfect: beautiful but humble, selfless, loyal, funny, empathetic, trusting, and generally just good. The guy was too perfect: handsome, kind, honest, tender, funny, loyal, understanding, and selfless. The evil mother-in-law that the girl is of course brave enough to not be cowed by. The instant connection between the main characters. The humor that only served to play into the perfectness that is our couple.

I’ll stop now but you get the point.

They’re both spare heirs and refreshingly (see how perfect they are) they aren’t embittered by their roles and how they must marry outside of their choices. Now, in fairness, I really did like that about them both. It really was refreshing if not for everything else illustrating how bubble gum happy things were.

So, one of the biggest selling points I saw over and over in other reviews was how refreshingly honest their humor was since neither race found the other to be attractive. They show this by insulting each other with brutal honesty right in the very beginning and then peppering the story with this cute little aspect of their relationship. Well, I found it boring. I wasn’t drawn in and in love with either character. I kept waiting. And waiting. And – well you understand. For someone who found his new bride hideous he was profoundly affectionate from the start. Touching her all the time and lamenting about her amazing character and resiliency. But seriously, I mean touching all. the. time. He would play with her hair, he would touch her face, he would talk about wanting to be with his wife (from the get go!), and how he derived comfort from her sleeping with him (platonically). It wasn’t quite insta-love but it was absolutely insta-connection. Also, how extraordinarily convenient that human and kai anatomy be the same, amiright? Which reminds me .

Everything was too easy. She assimilated to her new culture with no regrets or depression or anything remotely negative. There was no soul searching, there was no drama, there was just – bubble gum happy easy-all-the-things. Even with the “bad” stuff that happened I was like, that’s it? I mean sure, and so quickly at that, but he didn’t suffer any kind of negative psychological effects from it. There was never a time when either character dug deep into emotional issues.

If you’re just wanting a filler book that takes up space this isn’t a bad one to choose I suppose.

I’m just wanting more I guess.

I would almost consider this contemporary romance for how predictable it was.

Overall I don’t think this is the worst book I’ve ever read (hence rating it as meh, its ok) but I wouldn’t suggest going into it thinking you’re going to find some anti-trope book that breaks the mold.
Profile Image for Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️.
1,826 reviews29k followers
May 25, 2020
2.5 Stars

I am definitely in the minority here, but I didn't love this. I just didn't connect with the characters all that much and wasn't invested in anything that happened to them. I am battling a book slump right now though, so that might have something to do with it.

Might just be a case of poor timing. Oh well.
Profile Image for Clara.
132 reviews171 followers
March 10, 2017

Once again, I came upon this book completely by chance, read the synopsis, and that was it ! I read it and to my surprise, I ended up loving this book so much that it’s actually hard for me to find something I didn’t like about it ^_^

What’s this book about ?
This is a Romance set in a Fantasy world.
Ildiko and Brishen are forced into a marriage to strengthen alliances between their two kingdoms. The thing is, both of them are from two different races : one is human, and the other is Kai (grey skin, fangs instead of teeth, black claws instead of nails and yellow eyes with no pupils). So obviously, from first sight, they are both repulsed by the other’s appearance. But despite that, they’re still going to find a connection of minds and spirits.

To me, this book was how you do a great slow-burn and realistic fantasy romance when the two main protagonists are forced into marriage. What was refreshing and so good about it was that it didn’t follow the usual trope about forced marriage. What I mean is that even though both MC were repulsed by the other’s appearance, they actually didn’t start off hating each other. From their first meeting, and because of their open-mindedness, they quickly connected thanks to a shared sense of humor and smart mind. What I loved then is that the first months through their marriage, they’re very good and platonic friends who like to make fun of both their races and families and respect the other one very much.
But slowly, through getting to know the other one better with time, they’re going to form a deeper connection leading finally to desire slowly blooming between them. They’re going to see past their differences and find the other to be actually quite attractive in their own way. And from that moment, passion between them explodes and sparks fly !
I was worried during the first half of the book because the romance was quite slow and I was afraid they would lack passion and powerful emotions, the ones that create the butterflies in the belly, but I didn’t need to worry because everything came in full force at some point and I found myself so involved in their beautiful, sweet yet passionate and hot relationship ! I felt so invested in their couple, I could feel their adoration for each other, how they respect the other one, how they faced things together.
Another thing I loved was this book was free of unnecessary drama, meaning jealousy, distrust, misunderstandings etc… There’s was none of that, and it was so refreshing !

As for the characters ?
Well, once again, I was pleasantly surprised to find I never got annoyed either by Ildiko nor by Brishen.
Ildiko was such a lovable female character ! She was sweet, funny, brave and open-minded. I loved how hard she tried to adapt to her new world and people, how she would easily make fun of how different she was from the Kai ! She was really easy-going and witty, but most of ALL, she never made stupid or reckless decisions, and THAT was refreshing and so enjoyable ! There’s really nothing I didn’t like about her ! I loved how much she adored Brishen despite their differences, how she became his partner and lover, how she was always there through the bad things.
Brishen was such a swoony and lovable male character ! What I liked the most is how he was not your typical alpha male, being overly possessive and jealous or manhandling his girl all the time. Brishen was none of that : he was sweet, very respectful of Ildiko, he would always have sweet gestures towards her. He became dedicated and addicted to Ildiko, he loved her spirit and humor with passion. But he also could be cocky and get you hot with his dirty words as well as with his words of adoration !

The plot in itself was mainly focused on the romance, but I found the fantasy elements to still be quite unique and very intriguing, full with magic and politics. But with the epilogue, you could feel the fantasy aspect of the story is going to be more important in the sequel, which I can’t wait ! Also, I hope we're going to get more of Anhuset/Severek in the sequel because I can feel they could be just as amazing as a couple ;)

Overall, if you’re looking for an amazing fantasy romance which is able to separate itself from the usual trope, if you want sweetness, as well as passion and hotness, but also an intriguing fantasy world, look no further, this book is for you !
Profile Image for Penny Reid.
Author 108 books20.7k followers
September 30, 2016
I read this book on the way to and then back from a business trip (on the plane) and it was exactly right for my *reader mood*.

Great writing.
Great story.
Great world-building.
Great characters.

If you're looking for a fun romantic fantasy, with NO INSTALOVE, and smart characters, then this is the book for you.

READ IT! You won't regret it.
Profile Image for aly ☆彡 (sick).
346 reviews1,032 followers
February 19, 2023
“I’m not human, wife,” he whispered into the darkness. Shock rounded his eyes at Ildiko’s response, slurred with sleep ad nearly incoherent. “But you’re still mine, husband.”

I had my expectations up high for the book since I've been seeing lots of my friends enjoying it. I've been knew, but I also just realized that there's a major distinction between friend to lover, best friend to lover, and childhood best friend to lover. While I'm not a big fan of any of these tropes, I would say Radiance managed to dodge the adverse perception I have on it.

The portrayal of friends to lovers here was done attentively. I like that Ildiko and Brishen began off progressively, getting to know each other after their marriage and becoming friends before they fell in love with one another. They were lovely, witty, and amusing throughout even when they lived oppositely.

While Ildiko and Brishen are keen to put their differences aside and make their lives work together, people around them aren't so thrilled. And so, I like how they were being open-minded and didn't let their preconceptions from the past influence their future relationships. Though undeniably, both of them seem a bit unrealistic for "how nice" they have been with each other with less conflict considering their different backgrounds. Not that I didn't enjoy their sweet moments.

Unfortunately, that's as far as my favoritism goes. To start, the writing style is a bit off for me. The readability was not up to par; with too much elegance, making it quite hard for me to read along easily. I feel like most of the time, I read the book without properly comprehending what was actually happening.

And as much as I am a character over plot person, this book's storyline was only comparatively there even with an interesting premise (which is a bummer). Things happen, yet none of them appear to be linked beyond the present situation. The threads were apparent, but they were disconnected and unrelated to the overall plot. Actions were set up but were never paid off; or if it did, it was in the most unsatisfactory way possible. Despite all the fights and the raider attacks, the book lacks tension, and everything bypassed in a blur.

The characters are definitely what hard carry the whole book and maybe it was the author's intention all along. But even as a character-driven person, I wouldn't recommend the book heartily. However, on a side note, I could see why readers would enjoy this. In fact, I do enjoy the book more in the second half and the epilogue makes me look forward to the next book, but I may also expect a bit more from a fantasy romance book that had people gushing about it.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,807 reviews32.3k followers
March 5, 2021
5 stars

Oh my goodness… I am obsessed with this book! There is nothing better than reading a new to you author and having zero expectations and loving it this much! I am not the biggest fantasy reader, but this book was perfect. So much romantic greatness.

Brishen is a Kai prince and Ildiko is royalty of the Gauri, and they are to be wed. The problem- they’re not just from a different place, they’re a whole different breed of people. Ildiko is human, and Brishen isn’t. It’s a political alliance, but these two become the best of friends. I love how they find each other so unattractive at first, but they adore each other nonetheless. With time, their inner beauty shines and they fall helplessly in love with one another. Sigh.

Radiance is the ultimate friends to lovers romance. I had the biggest smile on my face through so much of this book. I can’t wait to read more of Grace Draven and I highly recommend this to all lovers of romance!

Audio book source: Audible (purchased)
Story Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Gabrielle Baker
Narration Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Fantasty Romance
Length: 8 hours and 53 minutes

Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,606 reviews1,480 followers
April 26, 2022
Sale Alert 25Apr22 Amazon Daily Deal $0.99

Once upon a time a Mollusk and an Eel fell in love….

Okay so it isn’t quite that. Ildiko and Brishen are two people who are insignificant to their families. They both have always known that they would be used by their families in order to form alliances. They just didn’t realize that they would be forced to marry outside their race to do it. Ildiko thinks that Brishen looks a little like and Eel and he believes her to look a bit like a Mollusk. Still it could be worse.
“You don’t have to answer of course, but do you think the Kai prince will hate his wife?”
“I think the prince expected to marry a Kai noblewoman and father children one day. He never imagined an arranged marriage with a human woman to seal a war and trade alliance between Bast-Haradis and Gaur. He might resent the circumstances thrust upon him, but I doubt he’ll bear any ill will toward his future wife. She’s as much a pawn in this as he is.” Brishen frowned. “Unless the bride is a foul-tempered harpy.”

That statement is one reason I LOVED this book. This isn’t the marriage Brishen really wanted but instead of being a jerk to his new bride he accepts that they are in this together for better or worse and it would be more advantageous to make a friend of his new wife. They start out with a unique friendship and that simmers and grows until each sees the beauty of the other in a different way. <--I love stories like this.

If that wasn’t enough there is also the danger of Brishen’s own mother, warring kingdoms and magic. I’m not sure what scared me more the raiders or Brishen’s mother. She is a fantastic evil creature and a bit creepy too.
“Your mother is...”
“A soulless creature with a thirst for murder and an intellect greater than any other in the kingdom.” Brishen poured wine for himself in another goblet. “It makes her a ruler unmatched in both malice and strategy. My father would have been overthrown decades ago without her by his side.”

*Shivers* she is disturbing.

Ildiko was a fantastic female character. She is forced to marry someone she finds visually repugnant and leave her home and her race to go live in a new land. But she doesn’t wallow or complain she takes it all in stride and make the best out of the circumstances given to her. She becomes an ally to Brishen and tries to be the best wife possible to him.

A few of my favorite moments:

❀ - Meeting the Queen for the first time and trading barbs.
❀❀ - The moving pie (yuck)/ or the potato incident
❀❀❀ - The meet cute in the garden
❀❀❀❀ - Actually getting down to the nitty gritty *wink wink* bow-chicka-wow-wow
❀❀❀❀❀ - And the complete Awe moment…. *happy sigh*

BUT THAT ENDING…..I wasn’t expecting it. The epilogue came out of nowhere and WOW. My jaw was on the floor and now I have to wait a year for the next book. I’m so ready and I have found a few friends to hold my hand because it looks like it might be a bumpy ride.
Profile Image for Arini.
772 reviews1,611 followers
April 16, 2020
#1 Radiance — 4 Stars
#2 Eidolon — 4.5 Stars

Oh why you sweet creature!! I need to find your human doppelganger, so I can make him my husband. To my future Brishen...

Gah! This book is so cloyingly sweet, but oh so marvelous. It’s a lot character driven and romance heavy, which I don’t mind. I want more fantasy romance like this—perfect combination of lighthearted, earnest, and unputdownable.

“You find me ugly, don’t you?”
“Hideous. A hag of a woman. And you? You don’t think me a handsome man?”
“Had you crawled out from under my bed when I was a child, I would have bludgeoned you to death with my father’s mace.”

Brishen (Kai) and Ildiko (human) are set off to marry one another in order to forge an alliance between their two kingdoms. Although both are considered good looking by the standards of their own respective race, the Kai thinks humans are utterly appalling and vice versa. Yikes! So, as you can see, this marriage is no ordinary union.

Plotwise, this book is very unoriginal. I mean, there’s barely any plot to speak of outside of the matrimony. Although we do get a couple talks of royal politics and action packed schemes, it’s mostly focused on Brishen and Ildiko’s relationship. And let me tell you that watching them slowly develop feelings for each other was pure satisfaction!!

“She hadn’t chosen this husband of hers, nor had he chosen her, but fate or kind gods had brought them together, made them friends and then lovers.”

Brishen and Ildiko are pretty much noble and likeable characters since the beginning. However, in regards to how they see each other, I do claim this book to be character driven. They learn to get to know, respect and accept one another for who they are. They build their relationship based on honesty. Gah, they’re just so adorable. Oh, and they love to make fun of each other too. It’s downright comical.

The only thing that, um, sllightly bothered me about the book was the writing. I mean, it’s beautiful and quite flowery, but the author also uses obsolete vocabularies that it took some time for me to get used to. Not to mention, the book is also told in a sequence of flashbacks. In some cases, the transition are so subtle that you forget what the character is actually doing in their present time.

“This should never have happened, Brishen. We were unimportant, you and I. We weren’t supposed to mean anything to anyone.” “Woman of day,” he said slowly. “You mean everything to me.”

For a fantasy romance, the love story in this book, albeit unimaginative, is definitely a catch. It’s toeing the lines between charming and cheesy, but ultimately it’s endearing and heartfelt. The fantasy aspect is not as intensely explored with only average world building, but it stands. I believe that, if the epilogue is any indication, this will change in the next book. We’ll have more subplots and conflicts to go about than just the romance.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,152 reviews18.3k followers
October 13, 2017
Ugh, I enjoyed the heck out of this book! It doesn't have the most compelling plot, but it was addictive and the two main characters, Ildiko and Brishen, were mesmerising.

The main aspect I loved about this book is how the author pretty much shunned the whole idea of outer beauty having any sort of relevance over inner beauty. These two characters are married off to each other for the simple reason of forming an alliance and security between their two lands. They're not attracted to each other, but find a common ground in order to push past that ordeal. They have mutual respect and admiration for their individuality.

Another thing was the fact that the characters were of different backgrounds and cultures, which should have caused a rift. Yet they manage to overcome and see past what's socially acceptable within their culture and adapted to their situation as best as they could, accepting each other for who they are.

It did take me almost 50% till I started connecting with the overall story and still I wished the plot and world were more developed. As well as the characters. I wanted more layers to it all, but was given only a brief glance into it. I'm hoping this is explored more in the sequel.
Profile Image for Bex (Beckie Bookworm).
1,956 reviews1,251 followers
October 21, 2020

“I’m not human, wife,” he whispered into the darkness. Shock rounded his eyes at Ildiko’s response, slurred with sleep and nearly incoherent. “But you’re still mine, husband.”.

So this is a reread, I absolutely devoured this duet first time around so a reread was always on the cards with this one.
Sometimes a second going through can be disappointing and doesn't have the same original impact.

Well, I am so pleased to say that was not the case here, I bloody devoured and adored this just as much this time around.
This is up there with my favourite reads of all time a beautiful love story that resonates with such care and adoration, love and acceptance.

I could actually feel the emotion resounding off the page at me.
I also adored the lyrical quality that ran through the narrative here it's one of my favourite aspects of this book, the language here used is just so descriptive and charming in its deliverance.

Theirs was an agreement based on the beginnings of friendship, respect and an intuitive understanding of each other that still left him slack-jawed with amazement. He refused to taint that accord by inviting vulgar conjecture.

So this is most definitely a fantasy novel one set in a fictional universe but if you like historical fiction this really did have a medieval feel to the whole story.
If it wasn't for the Kai themselves and the magic this could have been any arranged marriage back in the days of old.
The setting, the weaponry the day to life this very much had that flavour about it.

The premise here is simple an arranged marriage between two separate royal households to cement an alliance and as a gesture of good faith.
But in this case, we actually have two separate species: Ildiko is human and all that entails and Brishen is Kai not so much.

Brishen has grey skin, unmoving yellow eyes long claws that can slash his enemies to ribbons and scarily sharp teeth with fangs.
He moves by night: Ildiko by day opposite ends of the spectrum.

“Woman of day,” he said slowly. “You mean everything to me.” No amount of blinking this time held back Ildiko’s tears. They streamed down her cheeks to drip off her chin and onto Brishen’s shoulder. “Prince of night,” she said in a watery voice that echoed another moment when she’d greeted him with the same words. “You’ve come back to me.”

Ildiko and Brishen where do I start, I loved these two Lovers from such different cultures both open-minded and willing to bridge the gap between two very different species the humans and the kai, loved seeing these two very different people fall for each other their personality's and character shone through, both managing to find the beauty in each other's differences it was wonderful to be an observer in there melding of hearts.

This is not a high angst tale and I really did appreciate the simplicity of there connection.
That's not to say nothing happens here, there is plenty of action but it's mostly confined to what's going on around our newlyweds.

I don't really want to give to much away within the storyline but there was definitely enough here to keep me turning the pages and also go back for a second read.
I only re-read books again that have touched me in some special way and this is one of those times.
I really can't wait to read the next book after that fantastic finale.

Funnily enough, I myself have my own kai at home my 11-year-old son no sharp teeth and claws on him through.
Give this book a chance it really is one I recommend highly.


Reviewed By Beckie Bookworm
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews4,891 followers
June 5, 2017
My heart is just so ready to explode.

This book....has officially won first place on my "most adorable books" shelf. Not only was this the sweetest and most heart felt story I've ever read... it was completely unique. A breath of fresh air. Not to mention... completely hysterical.

Needless to say... this was nothing like I was expecting.

If you love fantasy/magic/quarreling kingdoms but you need a break from your typical YA plot line.. give this one a go.

When I first read the synopsis... honestly it just sounded like another typical Beauty and the Beast or Hades / Persephone retelling except weirder. This is not the case at all. From the very first chapter you'll see how different this is.

In a nutshell...

Ildiko (human) is married off to Brishen (Kai) to form an alliance between two kingdoms. The two races see each other as completely appalling. Once married, their alliance is seen as a threat by other bordering kingdoms. Ildiko and Brishen not only face the challenges of adapting to each other's physical appearance.. but in learning new traditions, and most importantly... staying alive. Honestly, I don't want to give away more than that. Take my advice...go into this blind and just enjoy.

Ildiko & Brishen's interactions are not only hilarious, but completely heartfelt. Honest. Endearing. Their marriage... well it puts us all to shame. I can't tell you how many times I teared up.

In addition to the plot and characters- the world building was completely unique and engaging. I wasn't swamped with overwhelming detail, but I felt alive in their surroundings.

Young readers, please note... This is definitely NA/Adult. In my opinion, it is actually quite tame but please note that going into this.

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Profile Image for Saswati.
406 reviews279 followers
September 21, 2020
4.25 “Woman of day” and “Prince of night” stars 🌟

“I’m not human, wife,” he whispered into the darkness.
“But you’re still mine, husband.”
Radiance is the story of a human Ildiko, the Gauri king's niece and Brishen, the second Kai prince who have been thrust into an arranged union in order to forge an alliance between the Gaur and Kai kingdoms.

Their arrangement would not have been such a big deal if they didn't belong to totally different species and differ so vastly in appearance.

She traced the bridge of his nose and the line of one cheekbone. “You know, except for the gray skin, black nails and the one glowing eye looking at me, I could almost mistake you for Gauri.” He gave her a sleepy grin. She paled and frowned at him. “And then you smile,” she said. “Bursin’s wings, that’s a blood-curdling sight to wake up to at any time of the day.”
Brishen chuckled between her fingers as she tried to press his lips closed. “You won’t exactly be honored as the greatest beauty in all of Bast-Haradis, wife.”

Let me just say this: I have never read a book where both the MCs are so mutually respectful of each other! Inspite of being royal, both Ildiko and Brishen have been kind of unimportant their whole lives, and as such, they find kindred spirits in one another.

Theirs was an agreement based on the beginnings of friendship, respect and an intuitive understanding of each other.

This is the story of how they deal with the court politics, invasions from the neighbouring kingdoms, and most importantly their feelings for each other!

I loved their banter, chemistry and gradual evolvement from friends to lovers.

Seeing them go from this:

“You find me ugly, don’t you?”
“Hideous,” he said. “A hag of a woman. And you, “You don’t think me a handsome man?”
“Had you crawled out from under my bed when I was a child, I would have bludgeoned you to death with my father’s mace.”

To this:

“What do you think of your dead eel in the daylight?”
Ildiko brushed a feathery strand of his hair away from his eyes. “He pleases me greatly. The handsomest of eels.” His high cheekbones angled sharply under her palms. “So says this hag.”
“Who is most beautiful in the darkness.” Brishen kissed her then.

It was so heartwarming!

Now, let's talk about a different character: the Kai Queen Secmis AKA Brishen's mother AKA bitchiest-mom-in-law ever! At first, we just see her passing snide remarks about Ildiko whenever she got the chance, and I really enjoyed how Ildiko gave her fitting replies!

“You humans are very pale,” she said. “Only our diseased sport that shade.”
Ildiko sipped soup from her spoon, offering no indication that either the soup’s taste or Secmis’s comment bothered her. She dabbed at her lips with her sanap before answering. “You’re right, your Majesty; we are quite pale by comparison. The Kai are very gray. Only our dead are that color.”

You go, girl! However, it wasn't until one of Brishen's childhood memory was revealed that I hated her with a passion. That lady is *pure evil* and deserves to rot in hell.

Even though the writing took a while for me to get into, I really liked this book.

Radiance doesn't exactly end with a cliffhanger, the epilogue is just foreshadowing for the next book. It was scary, but is it wrong to say it also soothed my soul?

Needless to say, I'll definitely read the next book because Ildiko and Brishen were *everything*.

She continued to stare at him. “What is it, Ildiko?” he asked. “What do you see?”
She twined her arms around his neck and tilted her head until her lips brushed the corner of his mouth. “My beautiful husband.” she said. “I see radiance.”

“Woman of day,” he said slowly. “You mean everything to me.”
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books430 followers
February 6, 2022
“Woman of day,” he said slowly. “You mean everything to me.”

I swear I’m still reading fantasy books! Today’s book is Radiance by Grace Draven, her 2014 romance. Spoilers follow, as well as mentions of sexual violence and torture.

What I Thought

A not-so-secret fact about me is that I’m a strange mix of jaded cynicism and sappy puppy eyes when it comes to fictional romances. When I fall for a couple I fall hard, but it takes a lot for me to fall in the first place. If you’ve been following my reviews at all, you’ve probably heard me say “I didn’t care at all about the love story. NEXT!!” quite often. I started this book hoping that Radiance would join Heart’s Blood and Empire of Sand as one of the swooniest romances I’ve read for this reading challenge. My ultimate verdict is that there were things I loved about this story but a number of other elements served to drag my enjoyment down quite a bit.

When I was jotting down notes for this review, the first thing I wrote was “Where’s the conflict?” My problem, for the record, is not that Brishen and Idilko get along so well- as I’ll discuss later, this was delightful to me. The thing is that while the relationship itself doesn’t serve as a source of conflict or tension in the story, nothing else really does either. There are little spurts of plot and then one intense cascade into crazy violence at the end, but for the most part Brishen and Idilko face no compelling challenges, external or internal. I vastly prefer a romance where the couple has something or other to overcome together to one where they face no real demands for the majority of the book.

I think you could make the argument that the book’s main source of conflict/plot is the two of them learning to overcome their differences, but I had some quibbles with Draven’s way of going about this too. For one thing, the distrust and fear between the humans and the Kai is just so bizarrely predicated on physical appearances alone, with very little exploration of underlying prejudices and stereotypes about culture, religion, social mores or personal characteristics other than eyes and skin color. There are times when other, deeper, differences are touched on, to be sure, but these are few and far between compared to the endless surface-level reflections on how different the Kai and humans look.

Another part of my problem here could be that for the most part Brishen and Idilko don’t significantly struggle to adapt. Idilko, especially, changes her entire life with remarkable equanimity, and while this flexibility is a commendable trait I think I’d find more significant culture shock to be more engaging. Another quibble is that most of the differences between the Kai and humans simply become a matter of joking banter between the main couple, with the same three or four jokes repeated into infinity in a rather tiresome way: yes, their people find each other ugly! Potatoes and scarpatine pie! Idilko looks scary when she crosses her eyes!

Intentional humor aside, there is also the matter of a few decisions that left me laughing even though I’m not sure they were supposed to. For one thing, what is the deal with Brishen’s preoccupation with rape? At one point Idilko tells him that she’s had sex before and immediately, apropos of absolutely nothing that she has said, he’s like WAS IT RAPE????? Like, what? Why would you think that? Shortly thereafter they have sex for the first time and right before the sex scene starts he’s all like “I’ve never raped anyone before and I never will!!!!!!” Okay, good for you, I guess? Gold star? I think what he’s trying to do is check for consent, but I’m stumped as to why Draven framed it that way. You all know that I get mad about poorly-handled rape stuff at the drop of a HAT, but none of this necessarily makes me mad- it’s just bizarre.

Okay, the other amazing thing that happens with Brishen is that towards the end of the story he gets kidnapped and tortured, and part of that torture involves his clawlike fingernails getting ripped off. What’s absolutely extraordinary is that the first thing he thinks about his torture when we next get his perspective is “Well, at least I can finger Idilko safely now!” lololol. There are two wolves inside of me…one of them wants to get all righteously indignant at how dismissively his trauma was handled, but the other one is just like “You know what? What an absolute KING, an icon. Honestly, God bless this man.”

This is the story of two nice and good people who like each other right away and quickly become friends before also falling in love. They enjoy spending time together, there are heaps of mutual regard and respect, everything sexual that happens is 100% consensual and they truly face the world as equal partners who are ready to help each other and learn from each other. It’s just….nice and pure and good.

Profile Image for Armina.
176 reviews96 followers
September 30, 2015
Buddy read with Gavin

Before the Epilogue I was thinking this deserves 4 stars if only because of the amazing main characters and their relationship. After the Epilogue - I'm not so sure anymore. Leaving it on 4 stars for now. Full review to come.

February 27, 2015

A fantasy romance! Count me in! And some reviews say the cover is ugly but I love it! It was actually the cover that got me interested. I was just grabbing some eBook freebies from Amazon and spotted this by chance. God moves books in a mysterious way! ^_~
Profile Image for Dilinna.
125 reviews146 followers
March 29, 2018
My heart is literally double its size....this book was not good for my health at all! I loved it so so much....Ildiko and Brishen are the cutest couple ever.....amidst their circumstances..i fell helplessly in love with them😍😍😍😍😍😍. Thanks again to my darling Hiba for recommending this book

Profile Image for Jessica .
2,074 reviews13.3k followers
July 4, 2020
I think we all know how hyped this book is. Because of that, I had such high expectations going into this one. That, plus the fact that I just read From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L Armtentrout and was BLOWN AWAY by that book, Radiance just didn't live up to the expectations I had.

When I started this book, I honestly thought it was going to be a new favorite of mine. The two main characters are revolted by one another, but they got along really well. I loved how they just kind of clicked personality-wise and enjoyed one another's company and being honest with each other. The romance, though, was soooooooo slow and pair that with a super slow plot and I had a hard time getting through this book. There was a lot of sitting around and talking, eating dinner, and sitting around and talking. Where's the magic??? Brishen has some sort of magical ability, but he barely even used that.

The end of the book did pick up, but the epilogue took the story in an entirely new direction and I'm not sure if I'll like it. The romance is already established, so the plot is going to have to really step it up in book two for me to enjoy it, if I end up picking it up. This romance was super cute with how they were friends and slowly realized they actually were attracted to each other first emotionally and then physically, but I need more substance to my fantasy romances to enjoy them.
Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
616 reviews494 followers
December 24, 2020
I really wanted to like this romance fantasy, as so many people have, but I just couldn't.
I admit my expectations were high, but still...

The beginning was promising, but as the story progressed I lost the interest.

The storytelling was all over the place, going back and forward from one scene to another, and the back to the first scene. I don't see what was the point, it only confused me.
Also, chapters could have been shorter, and one chapter could have easily been parted in three.
To be honest, this whole book could have been edited better.

But I have to stress out that the romance in this book was great and the relationship between two main characters was healthy and enjoyable to read about.
I also liked some dialogue and two main characters were likeable.

If I didn't buddy read it with Gabrielle and Ani, I would dnf it.

Even though the ending was good, I decided not to continue with the series.
Profile Image for ALet.
279 reviews241 followers
April 25, 2021
This caught me by surprise. I really, really enjoyed it. I loved the relationship between main characters, it was well crafted and beautiful. I liked the writing style, it wasn’t too simplistic, but not too over the top ether. The only down side was the plot itself, I just didn’t really cared about it.
February 7, 2017

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I read this book for the Unapologetic Romance Readers' New Years 2017 Reading Challenge. For more info about what this is, click here.

We read this as part of a monthly "theme read" in my romance book group. The subject was slow-burn romances. I love slow-burn romances, when it's done well, that is, and when I saw that this was a fantasy romance, I was even more excited. More so, because most of my friends loved it, and one of them compared the author to R. Lee Smith.

Don't be thinking that this is alien-smut, though. For most of the book, it's actually quite chaste. Ildiko is a "Gauri" human woman and Brishen is a "Kai" man (something I imagined as being like a "dark elf"). The two are lesser nobility, and are being married to forge an alliance between their kingdoms.

They actually meet first in a garden, and both are charmed by each other despite the animosity between their two races. They're delighted, then, when it turns out later that the "stranger" they each had met is actually their husband/wife-to-be, respectively. Even though neither finds the other attractive (though both are considered the ideal form of beauty for their own race but ugly to each other's races), they know that they've got a good deal, and appreciate one another's humor and kindness.

The best thing about RADIANCE, for me, is that it's about two very kind, humorous, nice people falling in love with one another not because of their looks but because of their deeds. The relationship that develops between them is at first amicable and platonic. When Ildiko goes to court with Brishen, he's impressed by her bravery and her determination to conform to his people's ways, and in return attempts to help her get through the worst ordeals (like eating scarpatine pie - picture a chicken pot pie, only made with giant scorpions instead of chicken, and the scorpion is still alive). Draven also portrays culture shock well, with both characters feeling lonely and frustrated with their faux pas.

What killed this book a bit for me was the last 10% when something sad happens. I think that probably put some people off the book - especially those who like super happy, picture perfect endings. It didn't bother me as much, but it was enough to put a damper on my previously untempered joy. One of the people in the romance group also pointed out that the epilogue will confuse you if you don't want to read the sequel, as it doesn't really add anything to the story (which ends on an HEA note) and is pretty much solely intended to set up the sequel.

I really enjoyed RADIANCE, though. The characters and the writing were great, and for a story where pretty much nothing happens except for the characters interacting with each other - this is largely a character-driven piece - the world and the characters are developed enough that it was still a interesting read. Anyone who is tired of romance novels where the characters act like assholes to one another should pick up RADIANCE.

4 stars!
Profile Image for Jen Davis.
Author 7 books700 followers
February 26, 2015
I probably never would have picked up this book if not for the glowing recommendations of some of my trusted fellow bloggers. I know that you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the sad fact is, sometimes I guess I do. And if I would have ignored this book, I would have really missed out on a great fantasy romance.

This is my very first book by Grace Draven. The good news about that is, if this story is any indication, I'm going to have a grand time rolling around in her backlist. Draven has created two interesting and likeable characters, who fall in love against the odds. It is a slow burn, but all the more satisfying for it... because I believed in it, which is no small task considering the circumstances.

Ildiko and Brishen are both expendable members of their respective royal families. Their marriage was cultivated as a political alliance. That wouldn't be a big deal except that they are from different species who find each other hideous. Though each of them is considered good looking by their own people, they are entirely unappealing to one another --at least in the physical sense. Fortunately, these two are able to look past that. Brishen sees the political aplomb, courage, and humor in his new wife, as Ildiko sees the honor, integrity and strength in him. It's inside the bonds of a growing friendship and mutual respect that romance blooms.

The world building here is very well done. It's an alien landscape, but Draven sets it up as naturally as breathing. We really learn our hero and heroine best when it's against the backdrop of their families and cultures.

There are also plenty of things happening to keep the plot moving. There are political machinations, assassination attempts, and ancient magics. But at the core, this a romance, and one I adored. I loved the way Ildiko and Brished treated one another. I loved that they were ugly to one another, until they were not. I loved the intensity of their intimacy, once it entered the picture. In fact, I can't think of anything I didn't like, except that it ended leaving me feeling like there should have been more. I walked away feeling a little incomplete, but I guess that guarantees I'll be back for more when Eidolon (book 2) comes out.

Rating: A-
Profile Image for Theresa Ijachi.
103 reviews69 followers
April 2, 2018
Actual Rating is 3.5 stars

This book was so unbelievably cute. I either smiled or cooed when I was reading it. The relationship between Brishen and Ildiko was just so amazing. They were really honest with each other and I appreciated that.

”She hadn’t chosen this husband of hers, nor had he chosen her, but fate or kind gods had brought them together, made them friends and then lovers.”

Since this story gave a premise of an arranged marriage, I went into it expecting a lot of arguing, angst and hatred between the two MC’s but they were surprisingly mature about the situation and that's one of the reasons I liked this book.

The characters were okay, I liked them enough and found that they had personalities but not that much, I hope they develop more in the second.

The writing was good as well, It was easy to get into and not at all confusing.
Am still confused about how to rate this book, but it ranges from 3.5 to 4 stars I guess?

While I found the romance cute, I wanted more politics and maybe a little more death

Another reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because they seemed to talk about some stuff in past tense when it has already happened. I would've preferred if it was narrated from the present.

I would recommend this to people looking for a romance that's not cheesy but still cute.
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