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Untainted by Lilian T. James


Untainted

by Lilian T. James

Published by Crystal Pages Publishing

Book 1 in the Crystal Island Series


There were several things Vera was quite skilled at.


Wielding a blade and pretending to be human were two of them. Following the rules and controlling her anger, were not.


Raised in the heart of the Matherin Empire, Vera spent most of her life forced to hide what she was and what she could do. Until one day, she foolishly confronts a strange male she spies tailing the Crown Prince.


Not only does the altercation not go as planned, but the male claims she possesses a power his people vitally need. He's desperate to return home and refuses to leave without her.


Staying would give her a life she never thought she'd have but leaving could provide her with the only chance to learn more about her past.


The more answers she uncovers about herself, the more questions arise, and nothing is adding up. Vera must decide what to do, not only with her life, but with the ancient power inside her.

Genre:

 

Woah! I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did!


Untainted wasn't even on my radar until it arrived in one of my Bookish Box monthly subscription boxes. The gorgeous cover, and the fact that it is a "romantasy" had me sold. I am so glad I got this book sent to me, because I loved it! Lately, its taking me longer and longer to get through a book (being an adult is dumb. Responsibilities. Ugh), but I was so entranced by this book, I read it in less than two days. TWO DAYS!


The story is top notch. There is never a moment when I was bored. There is a subtle tension throughout the book, that is just begging to be released. When secrets come out, and identities are revealed ... whew. You wait the entire book for it to happen, and it doesn't disappoint. While the plot is wonderful, the real magic here is the characters. We get one pivotal prologue where we get introduced to the two main characters of the book as children, and because of that, we get to see how that one moment in their lives has shaped them as adults. How their moment of "weakness" (which arguably, it was neither of their faults, as they were children) turned them into strong individuals. Not perfect by any means, but their characters are easy to respect and root for. The side characters are just as interesting. Without spoiling anything, I gotta say, one characters arc in this book SHOOK me. I did not see it coming at all.


Untainted was a delightful surprise, and I won't lie, I immediately downloaded the next book. Despite my excitement, after that epilogue, I admit I am nervous for what is going to happen in the next book. Lilian T. James - don't break my heart.





Elric: “Lie there any longer, and I’m going to assume you’ve fallen asleep.”

Scowling, she looked up at the man leaning over her with a sword in his hand.

Vera: “Stand there any longer, and you’re going to join me.” Vera’s body could knock a prince on his ass and give birth to new life. No man on all of Aleron could claim the same. That was something to be proud of. Men thought themselves so important, they put themselves on a pedestal, but it was the strength of the women who birthed, raised, and cared for them that kept their precious pedestal from crumbling. Elric: “You know, Vera, traveling with the Crown Prince means you’ll have to dress appropriately.”

His eyes practically lit up.

Elric: “You’re gonna have to wear a dress.”

For the love of all the gods. Rolling her eyes, she said,

Vera: “I’m not pretending you know. I am an actual woman. I know how to act.”

He laughed—literally laughed in her face—and said,

Elric: “Sure.” Great. There he was, slicing her throat and grazing his nose along the column of her neck, and she was smelling him back like a lunatic. She didn’t hesitate. Darting forward she snatched his dagger from his hip and slammed the pommel up, straight into his temple with as much strength as she could muster. He dropped like a sack of potatoes. A gorgeous sack of gloriously toned potatoes. Fear is a flame. It cannot be extinguished by will alone. You can let it burn you alive, or you can do something with it. Alter it, bend it to your will, forge it into a weapon. Vera: “I’m going to be perfectly ladylike, don’t worry. I’ll nod and smile and act like I have no thoughts of my own while I silently hope the gods bless me with a painless death.” She looked away, fidgeting with her skirts.

Vera: “I don’t wear dresses.”

Jaren: “I’ve seen you in two dusing just today.”

Vera: “Yes, well, the other was the first one I’ve ever worn, and it had loose laces and made sense.”

She bit her lip and looked at him, humiliated. But he just continued staring at her like the aggravating male he was. Vera glared back at him, hoping her scowl would cover the blush crawling up her neck,

Jaren: “I can’t get this stupid thing off.”

His head tipped to the side, and she swore his eyes darkened before he scowled, like her comment had personally offended him.

Jaren: “Then how did you put it on?”

Vera: “I sneezed, and it just slipped right over me.”

She placed a hand on her side, squeezing her eyes shut and sighing when he stayed silent.

Vera: “I was wrestled into it by a strong-handed lady.”

Jaren: “Hm.”

Vera: “Gods dammit, Green Eyes, just get this dress off me.” Vera: “You’re good at that,”

she mumbled into his neck.

Jaren: “At what?”

A shudder went through his body.

Vera: “Being an ass.” Jaren: “How much do you know about your heritage? Do you not even know what you’re capable of?”

Vera bristled at his tone and nervously glanced at Trey, still crouched a few feet away from her.

Jaren: “If he hasn’t figured it out yet, he isn’t worthy of being your guard. Now, answer my question.”

She ignored him, looking up into Trey’s brown eyes. She was so terrified of losing her only friend, she couldn’t even form words. She feared his rejection more than she wanted to admit, but Trey gave her an encouraging smile as if her unvoiced question was painted on her forehead.

Trey: “I figured it out when you aggressively stole my sword.”

Vera: “Was it the growl?”

Trey: “It was definitely the growl.” Jaren: “From what I’ve gathered from the two of you, she is quite valuable to Sulian and his brat. By now they’ll have discovered she’s gone, so no, we are not plenty far. I am headed to Eastshore. She may join for as long as she desires, but by all means, feel free to stay behind. Preferably six-feet underground.” Vera: "This is the first taste of freedom I’ve ever had, and when I return, it will be the only taste I’ll ever have. So, forgive me if I’m not eager to slip on my chains.” Jaren: “You don’t seem like the type of female who wants to be kept. So, what is it that you want, little star?”

Vera: “It’s my turn.”

He narrowed his eyes.

Jaren:Pha. Admit it. Just admit the truth. You don’t want that future. Say it.”

Vera: “I don’t want to be a pawn! I don’t want to be tucked away in a palace for the rest of my life, only useful for my name and womb.” Vera: “I’m tired of being invisible.”

Jaren: “You could never be invisible, little star. You burn too bright. Sulian may seek to hide you away, to steal your future and crush your spirit, but even he could not hope to smother the intensity of your fire. You are more than the pretty trophy he wants you to be.”

He tapped the underside of her chin and let his fingers caress her jaw as he pulled away.

Jaren: “You know I speak truth. You can feel fate whispering in your ear as strongly as I can. I’ll be here when you decide to follow it.” Trey: “If you wanted to cuddle, all you had to do was ask. I know a few ways we can keep warm without the use of a fire.”

She tilted her head to throw Trey a mock glare. She hadn’t realized how close she’d gotten to him when she’d laid down. She should’ve known his ornery ass wouldn’t keep quiet about it.

Trey: “But, of course, if you’d rather work off the day’s stress first, I certainly wouldn’t say no.”

He winked, and it took every drop of self-control she had not to laugh. Instead, she forced herself to form a bored expression.

Vera: “Being left unfulfilled and disappointed doesn’t sound like the most enticing way to fall asleep.”

Trey looked genuinely offended, but after a slight pause, he let out a strangled laugh and settled down next to her.

Trey: “Damn, woman, give a man a chance.” Vera: “Putting myself first for once doesn’t make me a coward,”

she said through clenched teeth.

Vera: “I’m allowed to care about my future.” Jaren: “I will not fuck you for two reasons, Veralie.”

She felt a pang in her chest, the rejection hurting more the second time. But before she could spiral further into mortification, he brushed his lips against hers, so softly she might have imagined it.

Jaren: “Reason number one being that we’re in a small room that is severely lacking in both space and creativity. I would need a gods damn palace for everything I want to do to you and all the surfaces I want to do them on. And somehow, I doubt even that will be enough to sate this uncontrollable hunger I have for you.”

Her entire body was shaking now, throbbing with need. Jaren was telling her why he wouldn’t fuck her, but all it did was make her want him to even more.

Vera: ”And two?”

It came out as nothing more than a breathy whisper, and his eyes dropped to her mouth as she bit her bottom lip. Leaning forward, he licked the seam of her mouth, causing her to gasp and release it.

Jaren: “And two, you don’t understand enough about Magyki mates or soul bonds to understand the implications of it. It would not mean the same to you as it would to me.”

She opened her mouth to deny it but closed it when she met his eyes. He was right, she didn’t remember their history like he did. He’d told her they were mates, but it was just a word to her, it didn’t hold meaning like it clearly did for him. And she wouldn’t invalidate his feelings to argue it.

Vera: “Okay.”

She whispered, trying to push down her crushing disappointment. She was still on fire, still burning for him, and it left her feeling both heavy and empty at the same time. She lowered her eyes and tried to pull her wrists out of his grip, but he only thrust his hips forward, grinding into her. She gasped, looking up at him to discover his eyes devouring her.

Jaren: “Oh, my little star. I said I wouldn’t fuck you. I never said I didn’t plan on touching you.” Jaren: “The desire to bury myself inside of you is destroying me, Veralie. To feel your wet heat clench around me as I pound into you until you can’t remember any name but mine. I want to ruin you, worship you, claim you and make you burn only for me.”

He licked his lips as he began to ease her tunic up her torso.

Jaren: “But until that moment, I will settle for enjoying you another way.”

Jaren: “I could bury my tongue deep inside you every day and still never be satisfied.”

His voice was rough, and the grip on her thighs tightened, his nails biting into her flesh.

Jaren: “I will never not crave the taste of you, nor the intoxicating smell of your desire. You are mine, little star. Every inch of you was created for only me.” Jaren: “You don’t belong to the gods, you belong to me. The only name I want to hear you call out is mine.” Vera: “Stop ogling me.”

Jaren: “I’m not. Your hair was just telling me good morning.”

She crossed her arms, a blush creeping up her neck as she furiously patted her curls down.

Vera: “Well, something of you is telling me good morning, but it’s not your hair.”

Jaren glanced down at the erection tenting his undershorts, and then with exaggerated slowness, raised his eyes up her bare legs. He shrugged, unconcerned, even though the sight of her wearing his clothes made him anything but calm.

Jaren: “I don’t blame it.” Vera: “I’m guessing with all the bonding you and Elric did, he failed to mention I have a bit of a temper. You see, I don’t like people touching my things, and he,”

she said, tilting her head toward Jaren,

Vera: “is mine.”

 

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