Top 5 Favorite Spring Activities by Zara Cox – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Top 5 Favorite Spring Activities
1. Reading in the garden when it’s sunny
2. Taking my first vacation of the year
3. Shopping for summer clothes
4. Cycling in the park with my kids
5. Writing outside in the sun

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.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Cleo – Gunpowder & Lead

For far longer than I care to remember, I’ve held the power of life and death in my hands. Between one breath and the next, the responsibility was thrust on me. A permanent state I had no hope of escaping. Not if I wish to keep the one remaining parent I have, my mother, on life-supporting machines rather than six feet under with my dead father. Machines that stay on or could be turned off in an instant, depending on which move I make in this deadly game of chess that is my life.

At twenty-six, I should be putting my actively pursued, proudly earned interior design degree to good use. Instead it’s a front for my real vocation as Finnan Rutherford’s companion. A career I didn’t choose but find I’m now irreversibly immersed in.

I had to learn the game fast or risk losing my life through apathy. It’s a good thing I’m a fast learner. I discovered that I’m an even better student with a loaded gun against my temple.

I’ve stood over too many graves and seen the risks Finnan takes with others’ lives not to have learned my lesson. So now I comply. I obey. I smile through the ravaging pain and the blood-red rage in my heart.

And I plot.

Revenge is the only thing that sustains me. It keeps me breathing, helps me place one foot in front of the other, and steers my compass true.

On the worst days, I wonder if everything I’m fighting for is even worth it. Those dark days I yearn to give in. But I can’t. Not yet. Not if I want my mother’s death and countless others’ on my hands. Having finally accepted the responsibility of my birthright, I’ve also accepted responsibility for those in my care. I do this for the dozens who don’t know that me staying on my knees is the only way they get to breathe.

Checking out would be the cowardly. Although I haven’t ruled it out completely as a last resort. For now, like the six prom dresses I tormented myself over choosing from what feels like a million years ago, I’m keeping my options open. The grim, otherworldly humor behind the sentiment almost makes me smile.

The oil-smooth door swings open behind me, wiping away every last trace of phantom humor. In the den where countless lives have hung in the balance, I fight the shiver that trembles up from my ankles.

In the half hour since my return from New York, he’s kept me waiting in this room that reeks of violence and corruption. A deliberate act meant to establish my weakness and his power.

“You failed me again, my angel.” The accusation is softly voiced in a deadly rasp.

I force my spine not to stiffen and take a breath. My gaze rests on the view of the immaculately kept Connecticut mansion grounds and encroaching dawn for an extra moment before I turn around.

Finnan Rutherford, the man everyone thinks is my adopted father but is as far from a father figure as the moon from the stars, regards me from his impressive six-foot plus height. Despite the early hour, he’s fully dressed in a tailored white shirt and navy three-piece suit, his Oxford pinstriped tie neatly knotted. Not a hair out of place. Like his four sons, he’s built of strong Irish stock with a square jaw, thick shoulders and smoky gray eyes always set with narrow-eyed focus. For the longest time, I was terrified of that stare, couldn’t imagine that he didn’t see into my soul and read the intentions in my heart. But I’ve learned to contain that emotion when in his presence, much like I contain all of my emotions these days.

I stride forward, slowly, and pause against his desk, my own gaze direct. “I warned you this plan would fail. You didn’t listen. Don’t blame me now that my predictions are coming true.”

One dark eyebrow lifts. “Are you saying you weren’t the right person to handle this? That I was I wrong to think I could trust you to get it done?”

I swallow the kernel of terror that threatens to break free. I know better than to answer in the affirmative. “I’m saying I would’ve done things differently. Sending me to him almost every night for two weeks reeks of desperation,” I say with a shrug, even though my heart is hammering. Finnan doesn’t like his faults pointed out. But I’m done dancing around the issue. Or subjecting myself to another long night involved in a staring contest with Axel Rutherford.

About the Author: 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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Porn Star by Zara Cox – Spotlight

9_13-porn-star-banner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher to celebrate the release of the first book in Zara Cox’s new series Dark Desires, Porn Star.

9_13-cox_pornstar_ebookZara Cox brings her self-published novel to Forever as the start of a sexy new series.

People call me many things: CEO, billionaire, bastard. Q.
I love women. I love sex. I love money. I love hot, wild nights with no promise of a future, because a future is one thing I don’t have. I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.

Nobody plans for a life like this. Some of us just end up here.

They call me Lucky, though luck has never been on my side. Before I met Q, my life was a big, twisted mess. Never enough money, never anyone to trust. No way out. With Q, the shame and fear disappear. Instead I feel pure pleasure, and that’s something I’ve never had before. But if what I’ve just learned is true, we’d better enjoy every second together while we can…before our time runs out.

Previously published as I, Porn Star.

Enjoy the Excerpt:

“So it’s true? It’s not a con? This job really pays a million dollars? For…sex?” she rasps.

“You think I’d admit it if it was a con? What did the ad say?”

Her delicate jaw flexes for a second.

“One million uninhibited reasons to take a leap.
One million chances to earn a keep
One million to give in to the carnal
Are you brave enough to surrender,
For a payday to remember?”

It speaks even more to her desperate state of mind that she remembers the ad verbatim.

I remain silent and wait for her to speak.

“So…assuming it’s not a con, how will this work, then?”

“If you pass the next few tests, and I decide you’re a good fit, you get the gig. You’ll receive one hundred thousand dollars with each performance.”

“So…ten performances…over how long a period?”

“Depending on how many takes are needed, anywhere between three weeks and a month. But I should warn you, it’s hard work, Lucky. If you think you’re just going to lie back and recite the Star Spangled Banner in your head, think again.”

Her fingers drum on the table, the first sign of nerves she’s exhibited. “I…I won’t be doing anything…skanky, will I?”

“Define skanky.”

“This is going to be straight up sex. No other…bodily stuff? Because that would a firm no for me.”

My mouth attempts another twitch. “No water works, waste matter or bestiality will be involved in the performances.”

Her fingers stop drumming. “Okay.” She waits a beat, stares straight into the camera. “So when will I know?”

I hear the barely disguised urgency and I rub my finger over my lip again. “Soon. I’ll be in touch within the week.” I’m not sure exactly why I want to toy with her. But I sense that having her on edge would add another layer of excitement I badly need.

When she opens her mouth, I interrupt. “Goodbye, Lucky.”

A passing thought about the origin of her name is crushed into oblivion. I press the remote to summon the bodyguard to escort her out, and I leave the room.

In my study a few minutes later, I bring up the screen on my desk and activate the encrypted service I need. I open the application and within minutes, the members of my exclusive gentlemen’s club are logging in.

My email is short and succinct.

The next Q Production is scheduled for release on 20 May 2015.
Limited to ten members.
Bidding starts in fifteen minutes.

I start the countdown and rise to pour myself a neat bourbon. I swallow the first mouthful with two prescribed tablets, which are meant to keep me from going over the edge, apparently, and stroll to the floor to ceiling window. I look down at Midtown’s bumper-to-bumper traffic. This mid-level penthouse is one of many I own in this building and around New York City.

Technically, I don’t live here. I only use it when volatile pressures demand that I put some distance between the Upper West Side family mansion and myself. I would never stray far for long. For one thing, I’ve accepted that my family would never leave me alone.

I know what I know. So they’ve made it their business to keep me on a short leash. But with over three hundred properties in my personal portfolio, and a few thousand more under the family firm’s control, there are many places to disappear to when the demons howl.

Today, the Midtown penthouse is my temporary haven.

I turn when the timer beeps a one-minute warning.

I return to my desk and adjust the voice distorter. When the clock reaches zero, I click the mouse. “Gentlemen, start your bids.”

My words barely trail off before the first five bids appear on the screen. Sixty seconds later, the total bid is at a quarter of a million dollars. I steeple my fingers and wish I were more excited. The money means nothing. It never has. It’s the end game that excites me.

My mind drifts back to Lucky. I turn the gem of her elusiveness this way and that and admit to myself she has potential.

I want to take a scalpel to all her secrets, bleed them and soil my hands with the viscera. I also want to fuck her until her body gives out. Right in this moment, I’m not sure what I want more.

So I concentrate on the numbers racing higher on the screen.

Half a million. One million. One point five.

My phone beeps twice. I pick it up and read the two appointment reminders on the screen.

7pm – Dr. Nathanson. My shrink.
9pm – Dinner with Maxwell.

I re-confirm the first and delete the second.

Cancelling dinner with Maxwell will bring a world of irritation to my doorstep. No one cancels dinner with Maxwell Blackwood. For a start he’s one of the most powerful men in the country.

He’s also my father.

Yeah, my name is Quinn Blackwood, heir to the Blackwood Estate, only child of Maxwell Blackwood and Adele Blackwood (deceased). My family owns a staggering amount of property across the eastern seaboard of the United States and a few in the west. According to the bean counters, I’m personally worth twenty-six billion dollars.

But tangling with my father in hell is what I live for. Have done since I was fifteen. So I ignore his summons and watch the stragglers fall away until I’m left with the top ten bidders. The bids wind down, and within the space of half an hour, I’m just under two million dollars richer.

I spot the familiar name of the top bidder and I sneer. Taking his money on top of everything else is darkly satisfying.

Once bidding ends, I close down the application and call up another list. Dozens of charity websites showing pictures of starving children flood my screen. Within minutes, fifty charities are the grateful recipients of two million dollars.

I may be Quinn Blackwood, occasional user of prescribed meds to keep the demons in check, who moonlights as Q, porn star to an exclusive few who pay millions for my work.

And I may be an unhinged asshole with serious daddy issues.

But no one said I wasn’t a giver.

About the Author: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!). This series is Zara’s next step in her erotic romance-writing journey, and she would love to hear your thoughts.

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Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Google Play, iBooks, or Kobo