Fantasy Romance

Re-read Radiance

Read Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1) by Grace Draven

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.

This is interesting in that the sources of tension between hero and heroine are all external in this book, and they are mostly reactive about what happens to them as they’re trying to live their lives – but it works. On reread the latter half feels slightly episodic, though there is a chain to the events that needs all those pieces.

The affection between them is there from the start, and it takes them a while to realize they’ve fallen in love. That makes me think of Courtney Milan’s The Duke Who Didn’t where she said she was attempting (and IMO knocked out of the park) a less confrontational, more collaborative kind of story (I’m misremembering exactly how she put it 🤷‍♀️).

It’s a fun take on Beauty and the Beast, making them both beastly in each others’ eyes, and happy to be “exiled” together in his castle in the hinterlands away from politics. Nips that coersion / captive weirdness at the root.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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