Black Sheep by Zara Cox
Series: Dark Desires #2 (full reading order below)
Paperback Publication Date: August 8th 2017
In a family of cold-hearted black sheep,
I, Axel Rutherford, am the blackest.
My father has hated me since the day I was born. The feeling was mutual. In the shady underworld that was my legacy, Cleo McCarthy became my light. She was beautiful, passionate, and my whole world. So naturally my father had to destroy us. First he sent me away. Next he claimed Cleo as his own. But now I’ve returned, and nothing will stop me from taking back everything that is rightfully mine.
He was the love of my life – when my life was still my own.
We were young enough to believe we would last forever, Axel and I. But neither of us realized how cruel life – and our families – could be. Now I’m trapped in a gilded cage: desired by Axel, who must never know the full truth, and controlled by his father, who would sooner see me dead than free. And I wouldn’t even care, except that it’s no longer only my life at stake.
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I will admit that I was NOT a fan of the first Dark Desires book, but I had to take a chance on this second book because of the insanely intriguing blurb. Read that blurb for Black Sheep and tell me it doesn’t hook you in! Plus, I am the biggest sucker for second chance romances. Black Sheep had all the makings for a fantastic read, despite my hesitancy because of the first book… and it freaking blew my mind. I LOVED this book. I picked it up one day and literally couldn’t. put. it. down. It was a crazy, intense, angsty read, a second chance romance between lovers turned enemies, with an obsessed alpha hero – how could I not enjoy it?
In a family of cold-hearted black sheep, I, Axel Rutherford, am the blackest. Abundantly despised by my three brothers, actively hated by my father. She was the golden princess. Put on earth to test every single one of my hardened edges. And I happily burned away every last one for her.
Cleo McCarthy and Axel Rutherford were childhood sweethearts and the love of each other’s lives… until they weren’t. Axel worshipped the ground that his princess walked on and vowed to do everything he could to protect her and create a new life for themselves outside of the mafia world. But then heartbreak came, each thinking that the other betrayed them in the worst way possible, which tore them apart and turned that love to hate.
Now, Axel is on a vengeance, working his way toward his goal of making his father, the leader of the mafia empire, pay. Which means he can’t avoid the love of his life, but he won’t let anything stand in the way of getting revenge, especially the woman who betrayed him. Cleo can’t even recognize the boy who owned her heart in the man he is today. He’s become hardened and more powerful, but even he can’t break the hold Axel’s father has on Cleo. Or can he?
She never needed a gentle knight in shining armor. So I become her marauder.
No matter how much they want to hate each other, there is no denying the fierce lust Axel and Cleo still have as soon as they’re in a room together. I LOVED this love-hate chemistry Zara Cox created, how twisted yet sexy as hell it was. Axel is pure alpha-male, hell bent on having everything: his revenge and the girl. And it’s so obvious that no matter how much hate they feel, it can’t be masked by the all-consuming love that never truly went away.
The writing in Black Sheep is cleaned up so much better than in Beautiful Liar (or back when I read it, I, Porn Star). I’m not sure if its due to the author or a new editor, but it was a stunning read. The story had me hooked, the writing kept me reading, and the characters made me fall in love. If you love addicting second chance romances that turn a little dark, I highly recommend Black Sheep. Now I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!
Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.
Now here’s an excerpt from Black Sheep! ❤
I trust no one. But like I do with Quinn Blackwood, the Black Widow and I share a special bond. Not one I would swear life or death on by a long shot. But there’s an…understanding. She’s the only one who’s been allowed into my special room, the only one who knows the ingredients of my sweet poison. The only one who’s seen what this room does to me. The longest I’ve been able to withstand is five hours.
Her concern is warranted.
I see her swallow before she reaches into her pocket. The small remote is directly linked to the chains. She sets the time but hesitates before pressing the requisite button.
Boldly she steps up to me, and she slides her hands through the hair at my nape. I jerk away but cannot escape her touch because of the cuffs. She stops, staring down at me with narrowed eyes.
I’m on the edge. Hell, who the fuck am I kidding? I was born on the edge. But tonight I’m a whisper away from annihilation and we both know it.
“Are you sure about this?”
“Fuck no. Hell yes.”
She opens her mouth.
“No,” I preempt her.
“I don’t have to stay here with you, but I can be outside.”
“No. Press the button. Don’t make me repeat myself.”
I close my eyes and shudder as my fists ball. I want to hear my name, but I don’t want the voice to be The Black Widow’s. There’s only one voice I want to hear right now. One face I want to see. Cleo’s.
“Do it and leave. Now.”
“I will, but at least let me come back and check on you—”
“Say another word and I’ll fire you.”
Her eyes harden to ice chips. “Fuck you. Have your six hours if you want. But I’m coming back in three hours to check on you. Fire me then if you want.”
With a defiant flick of her wrist, she sets the timer down between my feet, within touching distance.
The moment her back is turned, I kick the remote. It bounces against the last step and skids sideways halfway across the room. She hesitates, her back stiff, but she doesn’t turn back around. In silence, she leaves.
The moment the door shuts, twenty projectors on the dark gray walls flicker to life. Large, small, and in-between, they take up every inch of the circular wall. If space allowed I would have had more screens put in, but I work with what I have.
Each one is set on a half-hour loop at full volume with a different video. With barely an inch between them, they could be one jumbled-up picture but I know each screen like I know the length of my cock.
I take a deep breath as the first reel plays on the middle screen. The chair moves, the wheels beneath the floor spinning it slowly around.
Fading sunlight dapples over a lake before the camera swings to the figure in the tiny white bikini fleeing a large wave.
The wave catches her, splashes up to mid-thigh. She shrieks. “Omigod, you’re such a liar. The water is collllldd—What are you doing?”
“What does it look like?”
She approaches. Her hands come up to block the lens. “Stop filming me. I look fat.”
A different set of hands reaches out to grasp hers, gently nudging hers aside. “You don’t look fat, Cleo. You’re perfect.”
Feminine hands curl around a masculine one. Together they slowly lower until long-lashed, deep blue knowing eyes stare into the camera. “You’re only saying that because you’re in love with me.” Sultry words whispered from between kiss-swollen lips.
“Yes, I’m saying that because I’m in love with you.” Gruff, hopelessly young, newly broken voice, thick with seething emotion. “I’m also saying it because I have fucking eyes in my fucking head.”
A naughty, goes-straight-to-an-eager-cock giggle. “You’re so bad swearing all the time. Daddy says he’ll paddle my behind if he catches me swearing.”
A wobble of the camera before it steadies. “If he lays a fucking hand on you, I’ll tear his fucking head off.” A voice no longer gruff, hard with rigid purpose. Harsh breathing. “I mean it, Cleo. I see so much as a scratch on you, someone will fucking die.”
A gasp. “You can’t say things like that!”
“I can. I fucking am. Because you belong to me. I don’t care who created you. You are mine. No one else is fucking allowed to touch you. No one is allowed to take you away from me, do you hear me?”
A bite of her lip as her nostrils flutter in a shaky inhale. “You’re scaring me.”
Deep, harsh breath. “Am I? Really? Tell the truth. Are you scared, Cleo?” Camera poised with intent, recording every flutter of her lashes.
A pause. A firming of plump lips. Then a shake of the head. Thick, vibrant locks frame her stunning face.
“Say it. I want to hear you say how it makes you feel when I say this to you.”
“It…it excites me.”
“That I claim you as mine?”
A shy nod.
“What else excites you?”
A flick of her gaze between the lens and the face behind it. “Come on. I can’t say it on camera.” She reaches out.
The camera angles away from her but remains on her. Focused. Rabid. “Tell me.” The voice that will one day command hell itself.
“It excites me when you say that you’ll do…all of that for me.”
“All of what?”
“That you’ll…tear his head off.”
“I fucking will.” A solemn promise. A brief pause. “You think I’m a sick psycho?”
“I think you’re…you’re…”
“I think you’re effing amazing.”
Pink color stains her cheeks. “Don’t tease me.”
“I won’t if you say the word. The actual word, Cleo.”
“Right. Then I’m not as amazing as you want me to think, am I?”
Blue eyes, opened wide. “You are.”
“Then say it. You’re not going to burn for it. It’s just a word.”
“I hate you when you’re like this.”
“You don’t hate me, but fine. Don’t say it.”
The camera swings out to the lake, to the setting sun that’s almost swallowed up by the orange water.
Reading Order: Dark Desires series
#1 ~ Beautiful Liar: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Black Sheep: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2.5 ~ Wicked S.O.B.: Ebook • Goodreads
#3 ~ Arrogant Bastard: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (Sept. 12, 2017)
Zara Cox has been writing for almost twenty-five years but it wasn’t until nine years ago that she decided to share her love of writing sexy, gritty stories with anyone outside her close family (the over 18s anyway!).
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Ten (10) print copies of BLACK SHEEP
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