Review: Radiance by Grace Draven

radianceReviewed by Jen

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-

Click to purchase: Amazon

by Grace Draven
Release Date: January 13, 2015


  1. “Radiance” is a great read. I also went back to read two of Graven’s earlier books, “Master of Crows” and “Entreat Me” right after. Both were good, but “Radiance” is easily my favorite. I also found that the cover grew on me. As a mostly-digital reader, I seldom pay much attention to the covers once the book is on my reader. This time, since I found Brishen’s gray skin so hard to visualize, I kept checking back on the cover as I read the story. Pretty sure that “Radiance” will be one of my top ten books for 2015. Thanks for sharing your take with this review.

    • Jen at Red Hot Books says:

      Yay! Another fan.

      I read 95% digital too. But I tend to peruse the covers when I read the blurbs on Goodreads and Amazon.

  2. Dang it! DRAVEN, not GRAVEN. Grace Draven. Sorry about that.

  3. Patti (@lovesfabromance) says:

    This was my first Grace Draven book too and I really enjoyed it.

  4. Shelly Browne says:

    I just finished reading this. I’m in agreement Jen, I would have never – not in a million years picked this primarily because of the cover but I’m absolutely in like with this story. I’ve got my radar on the second one because that Secmis is batshit crazy awesome!

    Who knew that ‘hag’ and ‘dead eel’ could turn into words of love?

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