Grace Draven is an author I found late in 2014. When several of her titles popped up on a list of “other books you might like” I was simply overcome at the beauty of her covers and after reading the blurbs took a chance and one-clicked on Master of Crows. I found myself enchanted by her voice, which led me to go back and buy Entreat Me. These romances were very different from each other in pacing, at least to me, but similar in how the development of the main characters and their love story made me feel. At the time Radiance was a free serial offered on Ms. Draven’s website and even though I’d heard wonderful things, I decided to wait until it was finished to dive in. Partly because I’ve never been a patient reader and partly because Ms. Draven herself assured me that she was releasing it in ebook form very soon after it was completed. So now I sit here on New Year’s Day, having just finished my first read of 2015, and am so happy that I chose this to be the book that welcomes in a brand new year.
The heroine of this fantasy romance is Ildiko, niece to the King of Gauri and a human woman with no real value other than what alliances she can bring through marriage. She is betrothed to a prince of the Kai, Brishen, who finds himself being used to seal a trade deal between their two kingdoms. The Kai are a people of magic very different in looks, customs and temperament from their human neighbors. Ildiko and Brishen have every reason to be standoffish and afraid of each other when they first meet, but instead find themselves falling into friendship and respect. They tease and joke and are completely honest with one another right from the first meeting. As they learn more about each other that friendship slowly builds into a lovely, soft, passionate devotion. The differences that should bring fear, instead compliment each other and while they aren’t attracted to each other initially, as their companionship grows and trust blooms, they find beauty where they least expect it.
It occurred to me while reading that while I’ve always thought this author’s gift lies in how wonderfully strong her heroines are drawn in both temperament and passion, (and Ildiko is another amazing heroine) I’ve slowly come to the revelation that it’s just as true of her heroes. In the age of the alpha asshole in romanceland, who proves his badassness through the occasional rough treatment of his mate in both words and actions, this author writes her heroes to be both tough and gentle. They build their lovers up with kind, honest words and deeds and don’t feel the need to tear them down to prove their worth. Don’t get me wrong, they are protective and do want to shove them out of the way to keep them safe, but what I’ve come to appreciate is that I KNOW they aren’t doing it for the wrong reasons. Brishen is a worthy hero who is enchanted with his wife’s sly humor and backbone of steel. He guides her with a gentle hand through finding her way in his very different world, but is more than happy to see her rise up and overcome every challenge and never deals with her falsely or over rules her decisions because he disagrees with her. That is why Ildiko falls for him and why I found their romance completely believable.
While I do believe that this is very much a character driven story, the word-building is well established with an intriguing political plot that is sure to make readers anxiously looking forward to see what comes next. Ms. Draven is a wonderful talent in the fantasy romance genre and I urge those of you not familiar with her work to try her out. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Final Grade- A
The silence yawned between them as she continued to stare at him. “What is it, Ildiko?” he asked. “What do you see?”
His question acted as a catalyst, breaking a spell that held him beguiled and her enthralled. She opened beneath him; not just her body. All of her. He sensed it in every part of him. 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.”