Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Review: Radiance

Title : Radiance
Series : Wraith Kings #1
Author : Grace Draven
Edition : Kindle (January 2015)
Publisher : Grace Draven
Page counts : 297 pages
Language : English
Genre : Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Magic
Average Rating : 4.19 (per January 12, 2016)
Hotness Scale : 2/5
Read date : January 12, 2016
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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.

This is not your usual PNR. No, the guy is not a vampire. Not a werewolf either. He's Kai, a race that's older than human, and while the Kai possess same characteristics with human, they are very different from humans.

Thanks to Ren from Ren's Little Corner, I noticed this book. I was, as usual, drawn to the whole human-nonhuman concept. Okay, I can do this, I said to myself. Besides, I've been wanting to read PNR again, and this could break my funk over my not-reading PNR books, which is one of my most favorite romance subgenres.
"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." 
*scratching my head* This is highly unusual for me...

To Brishen, a Kai prince, of course the human Ildiko is ugly. For Kai, human women are hideous, with strange eyes and even stranger skin. On the other hands, for humans, the Kai are strange people. They have grey skins, luminous eyes, claws instead of nails, and fangs instead of teeth. And they also do magic. To this point, I got all kind of excited. Well, mostly, because I want to know how Ildiko and Brishen overcome their different appearances and united in love *look at my language -_____-*

Brishen, a Kai prince, is forced to marry Ildiko, a human noblewoman. Despite their differences, either in races and how their kinds see each other, Brishen finds himself charmed by Ildiko's wit and smarts. No biggie, they get married and then moved to Haradis, the Kai's capital palace. Brishen now has to guide Ildiko navigating the court life of Kai noblemen. At first, their relationship is just based on respect, kinship, and friendship. And slowly, surely, Brishen no longer sees Ildiko's appearances as something ugly. Meanwhile, Ildiko gets attached to her husband, who's not human but more honorable than any man she knows.
“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.”
So this book kind of bashed all my preconceptions about PNR. I was too used with two people (humans, mostly, or with appearances of humans) fall in love, and the situations which the love grow. Here, in the book, both Brishen and Ildiko are 'unimportant' to anyone, which is the reason they get married, as a token of good faith between Gauri (Ildiko's kingdom) and Haradis. And their outward appearances are usually revolting to each other's people. But the love that grows between them, inspite of the sheer impossibilities, is strong.
“You make a very handsome dead eel, my husband,”
“For a boiled mollusk, you wear black quite well, my wife,”
In the meantime, while adapting to Ildiko's new lifestyle (you know, waking up at twilight instead of dawn because the Kai are nocturnal), the kingdoms are in the brink of a war. The Belawat, their neighbor, is brewing troubles. Brishen's mother is a bitch who wants to kill Ildiko. And Ildiko has to deal with no small amount of affections and love to her husband.

I love this book. Really, really love it. It's a fresh thing in my PNR shelf. It's different. Okay, maybe I haven't read that many different PNR. But seriously, I like the main characters, I like the easy-to-follow plot, and simple explanations of things in Radiance's world. This just blew my mind, because, well, it's not just chemistry or insta-lust that makes their love real. It's a gradual thing, from friendship to affection to actual love. I enjoyed the book and how Grace Draven tells the tale, from the very beginning to the last sentence of the book.

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