by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti
Self - Published
Book 1 in the Darkmore Penitentiary series
What do you do when the guy you’ve loved since you were fourteen is sent to the most dangerous prison in Solaria for saving your life?
Okay, so maybe he doesn’t love me back. And maybe getting sent down would seem insane to some, but I’m Rosalie Oscura, champion underground cage-fighter and alpha werewolf from the infamous Oscura Clan. My family wrote the book on criminal organizations and I’ll be ruling this place by the time the next moon rises.
Then I just need to get to work on busting us the hell out of here. ‘Us’ being me, the lion shifter I’ve loved for ten long years, and the most notorious criminal in here - a sinful incubus who’s been condemned to isolation for committing an unspeakable crime.
What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, short of being rejected by my mate, the black-hearted werewolf who rules over my sworn enemies, or getting myself noticed by the sinister vampire guard who has a dark vendetta against me. But how likely is that?
The trouble is, I need the help of those four alpha males to get out of here. And they happen to hate each other almost as much as they hate me.
But I always did love a challenge. And I never did learn when to back down.
So how hard could it be to make them accept me as their leader?
Caged Wolf by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti, is the first book in their Darkmore Penitentiary series. This series follows a now 24 year old Rosalie Oscara, (Dante's cousin in Ruthless Boys in the Zodiac), who takes on a job to break out a prisoner from Darkmore Penitentiary - while also fulfilling her moon pledge to free Roary Night (Leon's brother in Ruthless Boys) as well. Ten years later, and Rosalie is still convinced Roary went to prison because of her. Now all grown up, and powerful, she concocts a brilliant plan to break out of the unescapable and brutal prison. Only problem? She needs the help of the four alpha's to do it. One who happens to be in prison because of her. One, an insatiable incubus who is locked up in solitary for a brutal crime. Another, the leader of a rival gang - and her mate who rejected her. And finally, a dark and famously angry vampire guard. Can she bring these alpha males to go along with her plans?
So once again, I am left with things I like, and don't like - which seems to be just how I personally react to Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti's writing. I will say, I enjoyed it a bit more than Ruthless Boys, or the first couple of the Zodiac books. With the setting, and these characters, I was expecting a darker and grittier storyline, and we do get it - along with lots of steamy scenes, and humorous banter that these authors are famous for. I think the authors made sure to mix much more plot into the story too, which was my main problem with Ruthless boys. I always felt like Rosalie was working towards her goal of escape, while leaving opportunities for fun and sexy times open. That being said - there are some similarities to their other reverse harem - Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac. Rosalie is a tough as nails girl, very similar in personality to Elise, right down to a shitty upbringing. The men are also similar to the Ruthless Boys in personality. So in that regard, it loses some points for me. I don't want to read the same story.
While there are similarities to Ruthless Boys (and even some easter eggs to Zodiac Academy, which is a huge tease), I did find it much more enjoyable than Ruthless Boys. The setting is super cool, the characters are fun, the relationships are full of sexual tension and steamy moments. It just flowed much better than some of their other series. And after that ending, I can't wait to dive in the next and find out what happens.
Loved Rosalie standing up to Cain
Ethan and Rosalie hooking up in the kitchen
Rosalie introducing herself to Sin
Roary and Rosalie stealing a cuff key, and their kiss
Roary and Rosalie's sex talk to cover up the sound of her hiding the key
Ethan and Rosalie fighting, fucking and mating
Ethan saving Rosalie
Cain finding a reason to punish 200 for trying to rape Rosalie
Ethan and Rosalie telling each other something real
Sin being released back in gen pop
Cain and Rosalie's hunting games
Ethan's anger at the Fate room over Rosalie
Sin making Ethan help him get something she needed from the Order yard
Roary making the night sky for Rosalie
Dante: “Can you make the tunnel wider, Rosa? I’m twice the damn size of you!”
I twisted my head awkwardly so that I could look back at him, his dark features illuminated by the orange Faelight he’d conjured into existence so that we weren’t lost in the dark. As an air Elemental his job was to make sure we didn’t suffocate down here, which I was glad to say he was doing damn well. But as a Dragon Shifter, he was also one big motherfucker and he had a point about the width of the tunnel which was currently crushing his broad shoulders.
Rosalie: “Are you sure you haven’t put on weight, cugino?”
I teased as I wielded more earth away from him.
Rosalie: “You know what they say about getting too comfortable when you’re married. If you don’t watch out, you might find your wife’s attention wandering…”
Dante: “My wife’s attention is always wandering. But she’ll never grow tired of me.”
Rosalie: “Maybe watch the pies anyway…” Dante: "You’re wild, Rosa. And you’d better make sure no one ever tames you." Cain: “I don’t care if you were the Vegas’ personal bodyguard or you gave Lionel Acrux blowjobs for a living. You’re nothing more than a number in here now. Twelve to be precise. And do you know why you’ve been assigned that number?”
I strode forward, surveying her through the bars and forcing her to look up at me even more so as I drew closer.
Rosalie: “Because it’s your favourite number?”
Cain: “I don’t have a favourite anything, Twelve. The last inmate to wear that number got shanked in the night. Forty eight puncture wounds to the lungs. Bled out in less than a minute. You can’t rely on your magic in here, the physically weak and the terminally stupid end up in body bags faster than it takes to process them. So if you’re going to cause me all that paperwork, I suggest you be a doll and slit your throat now to save me the hassle.”
Her jaw tightened but she didn’t pale at my words. I liked when they squirmed, but she was holding firm.
Rosalie: “I hope they got me a new jumpsuit then, it sounds like the old one was ruined,” Rosalie: “Ti farò diventare la mia cagna, ragazzo del coro,”
I purred, twisting my fingers through a lock of my ebony hair and widening my eyes seductively. I’m going to make you my bitch, choir boy. Rosalie: “I’m not a pup anymore, Roary,”
Roary: “You’ll always be a pup to me,”
I taunted and her cheeks puffed out angrily. It felt too good winding her up. She flipped upright, catching the collar of my jumpsuit in her fist.
Rosalie: “I just beat down a Dragon and I’ve got enough energy to upend a Lion Shifter too.”
My grin widened.
Roary: “Please try. It would make my day.” Rosalie: “I’m Rosalie Oscura of the Oscura Clan. I was raised by Bianca Oscura, mother of the Storm Dragon who I’ve ridden with in the clouds countless times.” Sin: “If I begged the stars to paint me a portrait of the woman I’ve been fantasizing over while I’ve been stuck down here, then she’d be you,”
in growled in a low voice which had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end.
Sin: “Bigger tits maybe…but I’d need to see them to be sure…”
I snorted a laugh dismissively.
Rosalie: “You’ve been without tits for so long that you’d probably get excited to see Cain’s if he offered.” Cain was going to come down on Rosalie like a ton of bricks when he watched the CCTV and realised she’d given me that pudding. I was going to be due a beat down in the morning too because of it. He’d probably get the newbie, Hastings, to shove his finger up my ass to check that nothing had been hidden in that pot. Worth. It. And frankly I needed the Fae on Fae contact. So if Officer Hastings needed to go to town on my ass, then I’d spread ‘em and bend over like a hooker with a pocketful of cash. It wasn’t always pretty being an Incubus, but when you were the most notorious assassin in Solaria, people tended not to judge. Roary: “You seriously believe you can break out of here?”
Rosalie: “With a little bit of help from the right people.”
Roary: “Why do I feel like you’re about to get me into trouble?”
Rosalie: “Why do I feel like that’s what you like about me?”
I teased. The corner of Roary’s mouth hooked up and he turned his golden eyes on me, trailing his gaze over me slowly like he was drinking in every detail he could find.
Roary: “It’s on the list. “Come on then, let’s hear your master plan.”
I smirked like the cat who had the cream and leaned a little closer to him, drawing my hair over my shoulder to hide my expression from any nosey assholes who might be watching us.
Rosalie: “Well I’m not going to give you the whole thing just yet,”
Roary: “Are you trying to get me hooked with the foreplay, little pup?”
he asked in a low voice. My pulse stumbled at his words and I swallowed thickly as I looked away from him before shifting a little closer again as I looked back.
Rosalie: “My foreplay is so good that I could have you begging at my feet within two minutes, Lion boy,” Roary: “You don’t ask for much, do you, Rosa?”
Rosalie: “I’d ask for the moon if you could steal it for me. Rosalie: “It doesn’t seem like we’re alone to me,”
I replied, gesturing to the twenty or so men and women who surrounded me.
Gustard: “In my operation, I like to think of my followers as extensions of myself. Claud here is my foot, Brianne is my eyes and Christopher here-”
He gestured for the crowd to part to allow a huge man to lumber through the center of them. I raised my chin as I recognized the Dragon Shifter I’d turned out of his cell on my first day here.
Gustard: “-is my fist.”
Rosalie: “Is that so?”
I asked casually, looking away from Two Hundred as he glowered at me.
Rosalie: “And where’s your backbone?” Ethan: “Stay,”
Ethan asked, his tone raw with all the things he wouldn’t let himself consider for us.
Ethan: "You said I don’t know you. Well you don’t know me either. So stay and give me something real.”
I looked up at him for a long moment before reaching out to trace my fingers across his jaw. He really was something to look at. I wanted to call him beautiful, though his edges were all too rough for that. But there was something achingly captivating about him. Looking at him felt like gazing upon a piece of my own soul despite how little we knew each other.
Rosalie: “I love my family. It’s not about strength or loyalty to gang ideals or anything muddied in politics. It’s just that. Love.”
My Aunt Bianca, Dante and all of my cousins were the one thing in this world that made me feel anything I could be truly certain of. Without them, I had no idea where I’d be now or who I’d be. They’d saved me when they took me in. So much more so than they’d ever know. Ethan considered that for a long moment before finally nodding in acceptance. He leaned down until his forehead was pressed to mine and the rich scent of oak and earth coiled around me from his skin.
Ethan: “I’m innocent,”
I asked with a frown, because that wasn’t supposed to be possible. Fae were only sent to Darkmore if there was overwhelming evidence that they were guilty. Things like CCTV footage, witness statements and DNA were used to build a case and if that wasn’t strong enough then the suspect had to face Cyclops interrogation where the truth would literally be torn from their head. There were a whole bunch of security guard witnesses from the bank whose testimony had sent me here and assured my conviction. But the only way that a Fae could be convicted without those things and still found guilty would be if-
Ethan: “I gave a full confession. I knew all the details they required, I didn’t contest a single thing, didn’t even complain when they offered up the maximum sentence,”
Ethan: “Because I love my family too.” Rosalie: “I don’t owe you any piece of me. Least of all the parts that bleed so easily.” Sin: “It’s her, isn’t it? Rosalie’s your Alpha.”
Sonny nodded, shoving me away from him as his muscles flexed.
Sonny: “If you strike at us Wolves, I’ll be more than happy to pass on that information to her and then we’ll see how you fare against a Moon Wolf.”
I moved nearer to him again, then dragged him into a firm hug which he didn’t return. My heart thumped for joy at being so close to another Fae and I growled appreciatively at the heat of his body seeping into mine.
Sin: “No need to run to Mommy. Me and her happen to be best friends." Cain: “Let’s see how long you keep giggling once Dr Quentin gets to work on you,”
he growled. I narrowed my eyes at him as I yanked my arm out of his grip.
Rosalie: “Think again, Officer. Because if I end up in interrogation with that freaky Cyclops, the first thing I’ll be offering up are memories of your teeth in my neck and your hands on my body. Then we’ll find out what upsets the Warden most. Do you think you’ll last long when you’re tossed into gen pop with the masses?”
Cain snarled at me but his gaze flickered uncertainly as he realized I had him over a barrel.
Rosalie: “In fact,”
I breathed, reaching out to fasten his buttons for him.
Rosalie: “I’m pretty sure I only came down here because you told me to. Because you wanted to get me where the cameras weren’t watching.”
Cain: “You little bitch,”
he snarled. I pouted at him and reached out to cup his cheek in my hand.
Rosalie: “I can be your best friend or your worst nightmare, Officer. We can keep on playing these games you like so much and I can stay far, far away from interrogation. Or you can drag me down there and I’ll start singing like a canary. It’s simple.”
Cain: “You don’t want to go up against me, Twelve,”
Rosalie: “No, Mason. I already told you once before. You’re the one who should fear making an enemy of me." Sin: “You’re gonna put it up your butt, aren’t you?!”
I called after him.
Sin: “Aren’t you!?”
I shouted louder when he didn’t respond. It wasn’t long before the fifteen minute warning flashed up on the timer high above the forest and I made my way back to the elevators soaking fucking wet, coated in mud and as smug as a cow in a three piece suit. I spotted Ethan filing into an elevator with his pack and I caught his eye. I made a circle with my index finger and thumb then pushed my other index finger into it with a raised eyebrow. He answered by lifting his own finger and running it across his throat. A grin bit into my cheeks as I headed into another elevator. It’s totally up his butt. Rosalyn: “Poor Sin just looked so lonely over here all by himself. I thought he might like a new friend.”
Cain: “Eighty Eight doesn’t have friends because he is immensely unlikable,”
Sin: “I have friends,”
Sin replied, clutching at his heart like he was mortally wounded by Cain’s words.
Sin: “What about Alf?”
Cain: “If you’re referring to Ninety Six then you know full well that he’s dead. Someone beat the shit out of him and drowned him in a toilet before writing the words don’t fuck with my pencils on the walls in his blood,”
Sin: “That does sound familiar, now you mention it,”
Cain: “It was the same day that you were reprimanded for hoarding all of the pencils in the library so that you could build a nest out of them,”
Sin: “It was a wigwam – side note, pencils aren’t great for building wigwams.” Sin: “Shh, your complaints are killing the mood.”
Rosalie: “Seriously, Sin, I don’t wanna have to kick your head in but if that’s what it takes to-”
Sin’s hand collided with my ass and I gasped in surprise as I clutched his broad shoulders.
Rosalie: “Did you just spank me?”
Sin: “Yeah. And you liked it, wild girl.”
I opened my mouth to protest and he did it again. The gasp that escaped my lips that time had the hint of a moan to it and I cursed as I found myself half wanting him to do it again.
Rosalie: “That’s not the point,”
I growled and Sin laughed. Rosalie: “Why did you come back for me?”
she breathed as she broke the kiss. I brushed my fingers up her neck until my thumb caressed the crescent moon behind her ear.
Ethan: “Because you’re mine, love. Not even death can take you from me if I decide against it.” Cain: “Always flirting. Does that mouth of yours do anything other than weave pretty words and give adequate blowjobs?”
Rosalie: “They’re not adequate, are they Roar?”
she called over to me and I snorted a laugh.
Roary: “They’re supreme,”
I answered and Cain shot me a glare that could have melted glass back into sand.
Cain: “I’d rather put my dick in a blender than in some Wolf whore’s mouth,”
he said coldly and a growl rumbled through my chest. I was about to step in when I remembered Rosa was perfectly able to fight her own battles.
Rosalie: “I didn’t realize you had a thing for kitchen appliances, sir. You will be careful to keep them unplugged while you dip your dick in them, won’t you? My Uncle Ricardo got a nasty shock off of a toaster once when he shoved his finger in it, I can’t imagine the mess it would make of your-”
Cain: “That’s enough, Twelve.” Her eyes swallowed me up and I nodded without question. She could have asked for a star right then and I would have found some way to knock one out of the heavens for her. Sin: “I just saved your life, kitten. What do I get for a debt like that?”
Rosalie: “My eternal gratitude. And a pat on the head.” Roary: “The three-way was a cover, asshole. Rosa brought us here to talk about something, not get naked on a stack of books.”
Sin: “There could be time for both,”