“Woman of day,” he said slowly. “You mean everything to me.”
OMG THIS WAS EPIC! I’d see this book around whenever I’d go hunting for a good Fantasy with a slow burn romance but for some reason I never went for it, was it the same fantasy plot of arranged marriage between two people who hate each other – even though I love those – or the prospect of a beauty and the beast retelling of a raven beauty who is forced to marry a beast who isn’t really a beast, I don’t know but something held me back and now I want to punch myself for not getting to this sooner because this was another level of awesomeness!
When Brishen and Ildiko meet, it’s hate at first sight. They are from different species and it just so happened that they do not mix well with each other, at all. In fact they find one another utterly ugly, like nightmarish ugly. But they are both “spares to the heirs” and they’re used by their kingdoms.
What I loved about this concept is that the main characters never went from you’re ugly to you’re beautiful. They kept that theme throughout the book but adjusted to each other without ever ceasing to point out the other’s ugliness. They became friends to cope with being in a marriage that would most definitely not be like other marriages but with time they fall for one another in the most beautiful way. This was such a clever story, it started out with a lot of potential cliches (like the virgin heroine trope) but it quickly delivered original plot.
“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.”
Their dialogue is hilarious, Brishen and Ildiko have actual fun together and they make fun of each other and other people’s reactions to them as pair, with a lot of cultural differences, everything one does is appalling to the other and it was by far the best time I had while reading Fantasy, I was genuinely laughing so hard! The Kai people were so interesting to read about, the way they behave, the way they were different from Gauri people and seeing the two of them coming together for this occasion, comedy gold with a fantasy twist right there!
“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.”
I. LOVE. THEM.
But also apart from the huge amount of laughter there’s a lot of drama packed at the end and a lot of heartbreak and just FEELINGS ALL OVER. Brishen is the one with the evil mother in this case which cause a lot of problems for them as a couple but also for Brishen since he was young, it was actually so heartbreaking at times!
“We were unimportant, you and I. We weren’t supposed to mean anything to anyone.”
A slow, deep sigh escaped his lips, and his right eyelid opened, revealing a glowing, lamplight gaze. Brishen’s voice was hoarse from disuse but still clear. “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.”
Can’t recommend this enough, such good writing with amazing characters so nicely done, hilarious but also really touching. Brishen is such a good character, he’s caring and down to earth, and so damn funny and Ildiko was so likable, fearless and badass at the same time, this is my first book by the author and I’m already diving into the next one!