by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti
Book 2 in the Ruthless Boys of Zodiac
There's more to my brother's murder than I realized
Shadows in the halls, mysteries lurking around every corner.
Whoever killed him is covering their tracks well.
And now I'm walking a dangerous line between getting close to the four kings for information and wanting to crawl deeper under their skin for my own desires.
I can't trust anyone.
I can't let my guard down.
And I must keep the urges of my body separate from my heart.
But I'm starting to break all of my own rules.
I just hope I'm not falling for my brother's killer.
Savage Fae by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti is the second book in their Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac - a spin - off series, and prequel of sorts, to Zodiac Academy. It starts up almost immediately to the end of the first book. Elise escaped the Black Card, but has more questions than answers about what is going on, and if its related to her brothers murder. And answers aren't forthcoming from her four main suspects - Dante, Leon, Gabriel and Ryder. But as she spends more time with them, and she falls to the physical urges of these alpha men, she insists on keeping her heart of it. Problem is, it might be too late for that.
I was really hoping for a little more substance to Savage Fae. I wasn't a huge fan of the first book, but I chalked it up to the set up of the story and characters. I excused the little plot and action. But this is the second book. Why am I reading hundreds of pages of sexual tension and smut, and barely ANYTHING to do with the arc of the story? I get that this is a reverse harem. I get that one of the main draws to the series is the sex. But I want substance to go with the sex. I don't just want the steak! I want the damn potatoes too! We get A LOT of relationship stuff in this book, and while all the guys are different, it was starting to feel the same until the end, when we finally get a little more info to the main story line, which is ELISE FINDING HER BROTHERS MURDERER. And listen - I get she can't spend 100% of her time investigating. But the way this book is written, it seems like Elise is WAY more concerned with her harem than her investigation. I think if Caroline and Susanne mixed in more plot with the relationship stuff, I would have liked it more.
I did still like it though! I know, I was harsh up above, but I still wanted to jump into the next book. The one plus to all the focus being on the guys and Elise's bonds with each of them, is the growth we get to witness as readers, and just how attached to these characters we get. Ryder is much more than the scary, psycho gang leader. He feels more than pain and lust. Dante is more than a storm dragon alpha of a wolf pack. He is a romantic. Leon is not just a funny, let's have fun guy. He is sweet, and caring. And Gabriel is not just a grumpy ass. He is just dragged down by a mysterious past and loneliness. And Elise is still fun, still kickass. She just has a severe case of penis addiction, and can't seem to focus on her investigation.
Savage Fae was a bit disappointing, but I have to admit to there is a certain magic to this world. I'm two books in now. I'm invested. I'm just really hoping we get some substance in the third book. Because while I love romance and sexy books - I like it intertwined with the story. And so far we haven't gotten that.
Leon not asking any questions, just letting Elise crash with him and keeping Gabriel and Dante at bay.
Leon's attempt at a sandwich LOL
The bathroom brawl and the fucking swirly. I was dead.
Elise telling Dante about her brother, and her grief
Ryder saving Leon
Ryder and Elise's walk in the woods and strawberry ice cream <3
Elise smelling her brothers clothes and imagining being in his arms again
Gabriel finding out the truth
Elise's selfie with Ryder with the bunny filter
Elise helping Leon get one up on his brother, and the car sex
Ryder helping Elise get info from Nightshades office
Elise punching Cindy Lou and Gabriel taking the fall for the drugs
The. Strip. Tease.
Ryder sparing Dante
Elise: “I feel like shit and my room is full of loud assholes, will you rescue me?” Dante: “Elise, just come back to our room,” Gabriel: “I only want to talk to you,”
Gabriel added, glaring at me.
Leon: “You wanna talk to these two butt munchers, little monster?”
Elise: “No. I just want sleep.”
Leon: “You heard the lady,”
Leon said as he swung the door shut. Ten percent of the red juice coating the chopping board was probably my blood. And that might have been gross to most people. But luckily for me, the Fae I was preparing them for had a taste for blood. Not that she’d bitten me yet and she wouldn’t be doing so until I was ten inches deep in her. Alright nine. Gah fine. Eight and a half. Ryder: “I just don’t understand why you fought so hard against what we had but you have no problem jumping into bed with that fucking hakuna matasshole,”
Ryder snapped as I dropped into my seat. I arched an eyebrow at him.
Elise: “Shit, Ryder, you really do love The Lion King, don’t you?”
Ryder: “Fuck off. And answer my question.”
Elise: “I didn’t hear a question amongst your Disney based insults,”
Leon: “You’re hard work, you know that?”
Elise: “Too much work for one man alone,”
I agreed, winking at him as I blew a bubble with my gum. Leon huffed but he was half smiling too.
Leon: “Maybe I need some help then,”
he teased and my smile grew.
Elise: “Yeah, maybe you do.” Bryce: "I don’t know what his fascination is with you, but I’m here to warn you that I see through the spell you’ve laid on him and I won’t be fooled so easily.”
Elise: “Boo hoo. But lucky for me, I have no interest in underdogs so your opinion is irrelevant. I’m all about alphas and it just so happens that your top dog has chosen to be my Source. So cry me a river Bryce, because I don’t give a shit.” Gabriel: “Just because it would be better for you if you weren’t mine doesn’t mean I like seeing you becoming someone else’s. I haven’t thought of another woman since the stars brought you to me, you consume my desires.” Ryder: “Are you done with him? Or do you want me to help you finish him off?”
I laughed lightly as Adrian damn near pissed himself.
Elise: “I think I’ll leave murder off my bucket list for today. I’ll save that for someone more deserving.”
Adrian sagged with relief and Ryder cast a look his way again.
Ryder: “You heard her. Fuck off,” Gabriel: “Do you know what you’re doing?”
I asked, trying to break the ice, though her stiff posture said that was pretty pointless.
Elise: “Yeah, actually…”
She leaned toward her bowl, her lips parting.
Elise: “I can see something.”
I asked curiously, moving closer to gaze into her bowl and our reflection stared glassily back at us.
Elise: “It’s hard to tell but I think it’s a big…winged…dipshit, leaning over my shoulder.”
She elbowed me back and I growled in irritation, turning away from her to focus on my own bowl.
Gabriel: “I see something too. It’s a stubborn girl who thinks she’s funny.”
Elise: “I am funny. Hilarious actually.” Elise: “You can’t have me but you don’t want anyone else to, right?”
She rolled her eyes and I leaned toward her again in the dark so my mouth was against her ear and my heart was thrumming in my chest as her delicious scent washed over me.
Gabriel: “I want you every minute of every day, what do you expect me to do? Seeing you with other men is torture.” Ryder: “I was really fucking tempted for a Scar – Mufasa moment right then,”
he said and I stared at him, unable to process the fact Ryder fucking Draconis had just saved my neck.
Leon: “What changed your mind?”
Ryder: “Mufasa didn’t hang off that cliff by his ass.”
Ryder shrugged and started to walk away.
Leon: “You wanna watch The Lion King with me sometime? It’s clearly your favorite!” Elise: "I was going to offer to do something for you to make up for me snapping but it looks like you’ve got pretty much everything you could wish for covered here aside from an ass wiper and I’m not down for that job.”
Mindy: “I can do it,”
one Mindy offered instantly and I frowned at her.
Ew. Boundaries Mindy. Ryder: “Friends don’t check out their friends,”
Elise: “I think I recall it was you and Dante who made the rules on that deal. So I am sure as hell gonna look if the fancy takes me.”
Ryder: “Why don’t you look a little closer then? You could get down here and let me see how many times I can bench press you?”
Elise: “Because you’re a sweaty Betty right now. So ew.” Gabriel: “It’s raining,”
Gabriel: “And it’s raining.”
I shrugged. Elise: “Great. Thanks for the world’s most basic weather report, but maybe you should consider other career options.”
She mock saluted me and I smiled while she wasn’t looking. The second she turned to look at me again, my face was set in its usual steely mask. Ryder: “Why are you dawdling?”
I glanced over my shoulder as I tried to tug her along again. Her head was tilted to look up at the thick canopy above and she breathed in the fresh piney air with a smile. Rain dotted her cheeks and clung to her hair, making her look like some mythical fairy creature I wanted to capture in a jar.
Elise: “There’s no rush. Just take it all in,”
she sighed, looking to me with a teasing grin like she knew I didn’t know what the hell she meant by that.
Ryder: “Right. I’m taking in that brown tree stump over there. And that brown puddle there and that brown leaf over there.” Elise: "You're so uptight, Ryder. Don't you ever just enjoy stuff?”
Ryder: “I enjoy you,”
I said, immediately cursing myself for letting the words slip out, but her eyes brightened like they’d made her happy. And that felt good. Too fucking good.
Elise: “Well okay, I’ll gaze at the forest and you can gaze at me.” Ryder: “You either trust me a lot, Elise, or you’re not as clever as I thought.”
I moved to sit beside her and my arm brushed against hers.
Elise: “Why’s that?”
She arched a brow, placing her bag in front of her.
Ryder: “How many people in that school do you think would want to be alone with me up here?”
She blew out a breath of laughter, reaching out to brush her thumb across my cheek and painting a line of heat beneath it.
Elise: “You don’t scare me. Besides, I’m fast. You’d have to catch me if you wanted to hurt me.” Ryder: "I do want to hurt you though. I just happen to want to make you come at the same time.”
Her lips parted and her pupils dilated.
Elise: “Those don’t sound like the words of a friend.”
A blush lined her cheeks and my mouth hooked up at the corner.
Ryder: “Well I’m learning on the job seeing as you’re my first one.” Elise: “I brought lunch.”
Ryder: “I’ve got a protein shake in my bag,”
Elise: “Yeah, that shit needs to stay in your bag and preferably end up in the trash later on today." Dante: “Did you just jump from the top of the damn doorway?”
She leaned in to whisper in my ear.
Elise: “Like a ninja mouse.” Dante: “You’re crazy.”
And I fucking love it.
Elise: “Giddy up, Drago, to the front gate.”
She plucked at my shirt like reins but I didn’t move. Dante: “Mi fai sentire vivo.” You make me feel alive. Elise: “Do you trust me now then?”
Dante: “Even less than before,”
Dante: “Because I think if I gave you my trust, you’d use it to steal my heart and once it was yours you’d never give it back.” Gabriel: “I’d catch you if you fell,”
Elise: “I know. But I won’t fall.”
Gabriel: “Even angels fall,”
Elise: “Lucky I’m no angel then,” Gabriel: “Tears don’t make you weak, my little angel,”
I said and more tears fell as I called her that name like it meant something to her.
Gabriel: “It’s brave to cry over what you’ve lost. It means you feel it, it means it meant something, and it means you don’t shy away from those emotions even when they hurt the most.” She was the sun and I was the moon, the two of us forever cycling through night and day as we tried to evade one another, but eternally chasing the other too.
Text: Leon: I’m taking you out. Wear something low-cut, short as shit and pair it with your fuck-me eyes.
Elise: Are we going to a brothel?
Elise: A sex club?
Leon: Better (but put a pin in that idea, little monster) Reginald: “Immune to Charisma, unwilling to feed you and a natural born thief, wherever did you find this little treasure, Leon?”
Leon: “She just strolled right into my life like some kind of goddess of chaos,” Leon: “Bad little monster. I can’t believe you stole Roary’s fucking car.”
Elise: “No one gets to make my Leo frown,”
I breathed as he trailed kisses down my neck.
Leon: “Fuck, if you say that again, I think I’ll come already,”
Elise: “Say what?”
I asked as his hands found the hem of my sweater and he tugged it off of me. The cold air instantly found my skin but Leon’s hot flesh worked to banish it again just as quickly.
Leon: “The part where you called me yours,” Ryder: “Do you give up?”
I asked and she nodded.
Elise: “She probably doesn’t keep anything but our files on the laptop anyway,”
Ryder: “My thoughts exactly.”
I tipped the coffee all over the keyboard and sparks shot out of it. Elise laughed wildly, hurrying forward to rest a hand on my arm as I continued to pour it all over the machine until it was deader than dead.
Ryder: “Well you may not have found anything but that felt fucking ace.” Elise: “You do make me happy, Ryder.”
She skated her lips to my jaw and I clutched her against my side with a groan of lust.
Elise: “I wish I could show you how much.”
The door wrenched open and I tugged Elise past the angry janitor standing there. She saluted him and we hurried off down the hallway as he grumbled to himself about spilled coffee and horny students. Elise kept her hand in mine as we headed back downstairs, laughing like two naughty school kids. I couldn’t erase the grin tugging at my mouth and decided I might as well admit the obvious truth to Elise.
Ryder: “You make me feel happy too, Elise. Forget pain or lust. Just happy. Are you going to tattoo it on my dick or am I?” She laughed again, leaning into me.
Elise: “That would make an interesting date.”
Ryder: “It would make a messy one. If you touch it, it’ll go off. Especially if there’s a needle involved.”
Elise: “I thought you were going to make me forget my own name?”
Ryder: “I will on round two.”
I knocked my shoulder against hers and she looked to me with her cheeks colouring and her eyes bright. And I was pretty sure it was the best way anyone had looked at me in my entire life. Elise: “Do you just get off on being the knight in shining armour or something?”
The corner of Gabriel’s mouth twitched and he turned slowly to look at me.
Gabriel: “Only when it comes to you apparently.”
Elise: “Convenient,” Gabriel: “Not really. You make it very difficult.” He siphoned the liquid away from his body, dispensing it onto the dirt before moving closer to me with his hand held out to offer me the same.
Elise: “What’s the matter, Gabriel? Don’t you like me all wet?”
His gaze slid over me slowly and he almost smiled.
Gabriel: “I like you like this. But not because you’re wet.”
Elise: “What am I then?”
Gabriel: “Happy,” Gabriel: “The girl you are hasn’t changed. Just because you’ve had to live through-”
Elise: “The girl I was is long gone, Gabriel. And if you really have to question the truth of that then why not take a better look at that photo you have of me from last summer? She’s practically a stranger to me now. The things I’ve done…the things I’m going to do…she wouldn’t understand that at all. And I can’t even begin to remember what it was to live without this pain in me now.”
Gabriel: “But there’s so much more to you than that,”
Elise: “There isn’t. The only reason I get out of bed in the mornings is because I haven’t figured this out yet. Because I can’t let Gareth’s death go unanswered. If it does, it’s like he didn’t even matter. Like he wasn’t the only good thing I ever had in this world and he hadn’t deserved better than that. And I refuse to let that be the case. So I’ve gathered all the broken pieces left of the girl he loved and bound them together to seek vengeance for what was done to him. That’s all I care about.”
Gabriel: “And what about after that?”
Gabriel asked, his frown deepening like he didn’t know what to think of me at all. I shrugged.
Elise: “I’ll figure that out if I get an after.”
Gabriel: “What the hell does that mean?”
Elise: “That I’ll do whatever it takes to bring down the person who took my brother from me. I’ll give anything, sacrifice anything. So if it takes every piece of me, my freedom, my future, my life and my soul then that’s what it takes. I don’t care. I’ve just got to get justice for him.”
Gabriel’s face paled.
Gabriel: “Surely he wouldn’t want you to do that? If Gareth loved you like you clearly loved him, he’d want you to have a life, be happy. He’d want-” Elise: “The dead don’t want anything. Because that was stolen from them alongside everything else. So I’ll decide on my own fate and that’s this: I will find out what happened to him that night. Every. Little. Detail. And once I’ve figured out who took him from me, I’ll make them pay in pain and death.”
Elise: “You know there are ladies present, right?”
I teased while happily checking out his ass. Dante chuckled and I bit my lip at the deep tone of it.
Dante: “No, bella, I don’t see any ladies here. Laini seems to be shielded by her sheet and I don’t think you count.”
I smirked at that comment.
Elise: “What does that make me then?”
I asked as he pulled on a pair of black boxers before stepping into his suit pants. He turned to face me as he fastened his fly, his gaze capturing me and drawing my eyes from his chest.
Dante: “I’d call you temptation. Of the darkest variety.” Leon: “Maybe I need to set up a schedule with him. So we can have you on alternate days.”
Elise: “That wouldn’t work,”
Leon: “Why not?”
Elise: “Because then I’d never get to have you both at once,” I traced my fingers over the cards until the energy of one seemed to sing to me then teased it free.
Dante: “What did you get?”
Dante asked, his eyes on the dark road ahead of us. I flipped it over and smiled as I spotted the naked man and woman standing beneath a heavenly figure.
Elise: “The Lovers,”
I said simply, my gaze drinking in Dante’s profile. He blew out a laugh, his gaze cutting to the card for a moment as if he had to see it for himself to believe me.
Dante: “The stars are certainly testing my commitment to this deal,”
Elise: “They probably think it was a stupid deal," Dante: “In here we can be whoever we want to be,”
Elise: “Maybe I like just being us,”
I replied, reaching out to skim my fingers along his jaw. His eyes darkened as he leaned into my touch and he shifted forward to speak into my ear.
Dante: “And maybe I like to pretend I’m more than just an Oscura when I’m with you.”
Elise: “You’re not just anything, Dante,” Dante: “Sometimes I wonder how it is that you manage to see so much of me,”
Elise: “It’s because I’m looking, Dante. Not at a gang leader or Storm Dragon or an Alpha. I’m looking at you.” Dante: “Go,”
I begged as my tongue loosened just enough to release the word. She knelt down beside me, her jaw set stubbornly.
Elise: “And let the Brotherhood kill my Storm Dragon? I don’t fucking think so.”
I sighed, sensation returning to my lips so I could manage a cocky smile. She rolled her eyes, but there were tears of relief rimming them too.
she confirmed, her fingers locking around my hand.
Elise: “Now hurry up and get the feeling back into every muscle in your damn body.”
Dante: “I think my dick’s working again, can you check?” Elise: “This is so not the time for jokes, Dante,” Ryder: “You’d put yourself at risk for him?” Elise; “I’d do the same for you,”