by Lilian T. James
Book 2 in The Crystal Island Series
Vera had always hoped to one day leave Matherin.
To travel the world and escape a life that was never meant for her.
Bhasura would have everything she could ever want. Freedom, respect, family, and her mate. Her aitanta.
But behind the island’s beautiful cities and smiling citizens, she can hear the lies poisoning their stories.
She wants to believe it's all in her head, but a dark anger starts to grow inside her, and she can't ignore the feeling that something is wrong.
Something besides the vivid dreams that plague her sleep the moment she sets foot on the island.
**Content includes descriptions of torture, detailed intimacy, and dubious consent
Untamed is the second book in The Crystal Island's series, and while I enjoyed it, I didn't love it as much as Untainted. If I am to put my finger on it, I suspect its because there is a loss of tension. Not as a whole. There is still a level of tension the reader experiences when it comes to the plot, but in terms of romance, there isn't a whole lot. While Vera and Jaren butt heads 90% of the time, we know they are end game. They are mates after all. Don't get me wrong, I am still very invested in their relationship, its just no longer the leading thing that keeps me hooked.
No. That's the story. And spoilers ahead, so please be warned; Untamed adds a whole new layer of intrigue to an already interesting story. There is so much at play here. We have a secret group of people in the human lands that plan to overthrow the king and prince. Vera's bloodline is obviously cursed, and knowing that the women in her family tree seem to die earlier and earlier adds a bit of a race against time to right the wrongs of her ancestors. Obviously she is meant to break the curse, considering her visions ... if they are in fact visions, considering it puts her in danger in real life when it happens. This curse is linked to all fae with the disease that is occurring, so not only would she save herself, but she would save everyone. Then, of course, the political ramifications of her coming back to the island, and claiming her title. I'm sad about her family situation - it seems like everyone is against her - but there is a reason this has all happened the way it has. There is a reason her mother did what she did.
Untamed wasn't as good as Untainted, but it was still entertaining, and once again, I flew through this book. I honestly can't wait for the next book, because at this point, I have no idea where this story is going, and I must know! And I definitely want to read more Vera and Jaren. Yes. More of them. Because ... whoa ... hot.
She may not have had a whole lot of experience, but she was pretty sure sex with bile breath and sweaty pits was where intimacy went to die. Then she appeared. Gods, that fucking mouth on her. Sometimes he truly wasn’t sure if he wanted to kiss it or sew it shut. Jaren: “Try to shut me out, Veralie. I’ll burrow so fucking deep under your skin, you’ll have to carve me out.” Vera: "I’m struggling enough with my own emotions without adding yours to the mix.”
He shook his head, her explanation doing nothing to calm him.
Jaren: “We are mates. Our bond exists for that exact purpose. So that I may anticipate your needs and see to it that they are met.”
Vera: “Open, honest communication can do that too,”
she snapped. He moved his hand higher, spreading his fingers around her jaw and tilting her head back.
Jaren: “I want to feel you, Veralie. All the time. In everything I do. It feeds me in a way I cannot describe.” Jaren: “Fear is a flame, Vera. It cannot be extinguished by will alone. You can let it burn you alive, or you can do something with it.” Jaren: “Enemies of flesh and bone I can handle. I’ll cut out their hearts and lay them at your feet, but I can’t fight gods damn water.” Jaren: “So fucking needy for me, little star.”
Vera: “So fucking full of yourself, green eyes.” Jaren: “Will you beg me to fuck you, little star? Because if memory serves me right, you’ve already done that.”
He could practically hear how hard she was grinding her teeth together.
Vera: “I’d rather take your beloved dagger and shove the handle right up your—”
Taking her now-swollen tip between his teeth, he bit down, grazing his canines against her skin right as he finally slid his fingers through her wet heat. Her words cut off, a cry breaking from her lips, and he hummed. Much better. He dragged his fingers back up, gathering her arousal and rubbing it onto her clit in slow, tantalizing circles. Fuck, she was already so ready for him. All it would take was a little play, a little stretching, and even untouched as she was, her body would swallow him in one go. He’d fit fucking perfectly when he finally slammed home inside her. The temptation was driving him mad.
Jaren: “So violent,”
he cooed against her breast, pressing harder onto her clit and eliciting a long, husky moan from her.
Jaren: “Now stop lying and tell me how much you want my tongue inside you, little star.” Vera: “You do not speak for me, Jaren Barilias. I said I wanted to hear what he has to say, and I meant it. So, either get your shit together or shut the fuck up.”
The bite of his nails on her wrist was her only warning before he yanked hard on her arm, pulling her completely out of her chair and onto his lap. Using his other hand to wrap around the back of her knee, he spread her legs, his scent spiking as he straddled her over his thighs. His eyes latched on to her shoulder before flicking up, and she raised her brows in challenge. If he thought a claiming mark gave him the right to talk for her, she was going to show him its absence right before ripping his fucking teeth out. But he just leaned down, brushing his nose along hers.
Jaren: “Are you speaking as my aitanta or ordering me as my Nlem snadzend?”
She opened her mouth, but he beat her to it, nipping sharply at her lip.
Jaren: “Choose your answer carefully.”
Vera: “Neither. I speak as a female who has her own gods damn voice.” Jaren: “You’re fucking beautiful when you burn, little star.”
He leaned closer, hovering his lips over her ear.
Jaren: “But just because I like it, don’t think I won’t punish this wicked mouth.” Jaren: “We can keep at this all day. You have zero control and will only succeed in draining yourself. So, go ahead, fight me. When will you learn I fucking love it.” Jaren: “I do not own you, Veralie, just as I do not own any star in the sky,”
he said in between hard flicks.
Jaren: “But you are mine, nonetheless.” Vera: “You’re not going to fit, Jaren.”
He pressed on the inside of her thighs, spreading them as far as she could handle before wrapping his hands around her hips.
Jaren: “The gods made you to take me. It’ll fucking fit.” Vera: “Let me guess, I was a complete pain in the ass, little kid,”
she joked, her skin heating under his stare.
Jaren: “Oh, you absolutely were. You were like a second shadow, following me around everywhere, even when I was training and you were supposed to be practicing script.” What did you say to someone’s father who just realized you had sex with his son? Good morning, hope you had a great night. I sure did. Reniya just laughed, reaching out to brush off bits of gravel that still covered Vera’s tunic.
Reniya: “I like you, Daughter to the Throne. You need a lot of work,”
she said, running her eyes down Vera’s form and back up,
Reniya: “but I respect your fire.” Jaren: “Naris’s main library is located clear across the city, and you, Veralie Arenaris, are not supposed to leave the palace.”
She sucked on her front teeth and tilted her head, placing her free hand on her hip.
Vera: “I also don’t listen, so are you coming with me, or shall I bring Reniya? Something tells me she’d be up for sneaking out.”
Jaren: “If you even consider sneaking out of this palace without me, I will hunt you down and smack your ass until it’s raw.” Jaren: “Unless you want an audience, I suggest you find a way to stay very quiet, little star.”
Her breathing hitched, and she tightened her hold on his shoulders with each steady roll of his hips against her center.
Jaren: “Don’t tempt me,”
he said, lips curled in a smirk.
Jaren: “I’ll take that with no remorse and have you screaming out to the gods until your throat is raw.” Jaren: “Veralie contains more power than you could ever dream of. I have not only seen it with my own eyes, but I’ve felt it. It is not her fault if you’re incapable of acknowledging her superiority to you.” King Vesstan: “We do not know the history of your mate’s bloodline. Dedryn confirmed today that they adopted him at infancy and were never aware of his parentage. Mixing your connected bloodline with an unknown is…unwise.”
Jaren lurched toward her, arm out and mouth parted to speak—what would likely be a very dangerous comment—but Dedryn snatched his extended arm, pulling him in and whispering something in his ear. The king was still watching him, shaking his head slightly.
King Vesstan: “I understand where your anger comes from, Jaren Barilias, but this is bigger than you. Mates are a beautiful, wonderful thing, but they are not always in the best interest of our people. Sometimes we must make sacrifices for what is most important to the whole.”
Anger simmered under her skin. Vesstan sang how gifted and special the Magyki were, but he was no better than Emperor Sulian. He could claim it was for their people all he wanted, but all he cared about was marrying her off to whoever would be most beneficial for him. And she refused to be used.
Vera: “Then I will be unwise, I guess.” Vera: “Just let them talk to you. The faster you listen, the faster you can catch up with me.”
She pushed up onto her toes to press a soft kiss to his unmoving lips.
Vera: “And if you’re nice, I’ll let you do whatever you want to my dress.”
He hummed against her lips and kissed her back before tipping his forehead down to hers, sighing.
Jaren: “The things I do for you, little star.”