The Sapphire Affair by Lauren Blakely

The Sapphire Affair by Lauren BlakelyThe Sapphire Affair by Lauren Blakely
Series: Jewel #1
Published by Montlake Romance on July 12th 2016
Pages: 207
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Bounty hunter Jake Harlowe knows how to track a criminal. So when a group of swindled shareholders hires him to trail their former CEO, Jake expects a quick trip to the Cayman Islands to close another case. Until a devastatingly beautiful woman gets in the way.
Steph Anderson is visiting the Caymans for a rock climbing and dive trip—or so she tells Jake. She’s really trying to find out whether or not her stepfather embezzled money from his company. The last thing Steph needs is the distraction of a sexy, charming man whose kisses drive her wild.
Soon, the pair discover they’re after the same target—and millions in jewels. While Jake can’t be certain Steph isn’t working for her stepfather, and Steph can’t be certain Jake isn’t after the diamonds for himself, they can agree the heat between them is intense, and neither can deny the passion for long.
But the morning after, Steph discovers that she just might have slept with the enemy, and now she’ll have to outwit him to get everything she needs.…

Jake Harlowe does many things and is called by many names: retrieval expert, a modern-day Robin Hood, a bounty hunter, but the quasi-mercenary is propelled by needing to support his siblings who badly need financial support after their parents’ deaths years ago. But his latest assignment brings him into contact with Steph Anderson – a woman who might be after the very thing or person he wants – and sets out a collision course that puts both their lives and emotions on the lines.

The setting is of course, entirely appropriate: a shady, shadowy tax-free haven of hedge funds, where tourist throng sandy beaches and turquoise waters, blissfully unaware of the its dirty underbelly with a shiny veneer of money. Diamonds, cocoa investments and all sort of get-rich schemes are hinted at in the story and Lauren Blakely excels at these whispered trades that barely skim the surface of legality. I do appreciate meticulous set-up of location, setting and context of both Jake and Steph: there are separate chapters dedicated to what they are, how they’ve come to do what they do and the entire lead-up to how they finally meet in the very exotic Cayman Islands. The tension and chemistry felt entirely believable and the odd ‘sort of frenemies who don’t deny the attraction’ vibe kept me waiting on end to see of either side would give in as the story wore on.

But as a 2-parter, ‘The Sapphire Heist’ – as much as I kinda loved the toned-down <i>Oceans Eleven</i> feel to it – is very much unfinished by the end of the long establishing ‘shot’ of how they tackle the complex case of a con-man, his diamonds and missing money everyone wants a part of. Well-written as it is and breezily punchy with great scenes and banter, I felt unsatisfied by the end only because I needed part 2 to know how it all turns out.