Release Launch and Reviews: The Sapphire Heist: Lauren Blakely

The Sapphire Heist - coverThe Sapphire Heist (Jewel #2)
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Expected August 16, 2016

Keep your lover close and your enemy closer…

After giving in to a fiery night of passion, island adventurer Steph Anderson and bounty hunter Jake Harlowe are back to square one. With millions in stolen jewels at stake, it’s hard for Steph not to question her new partner’s true motives—no matter how sexy he might be. Jake is hungry for more of Steph, but he can sense her growing mistrust, which only fuels his own doubts. Worse, there’s undeniable evidence that someone else is now after the jewels—and that they are both in real danger.

Fighting against their magnetic attraction is a distraction these two can’t afford. In order to survive, they’ll have to pull off one more heist—and trust each other with something even more precious than jewels: their hearts.

** THE SAPPHIRE AFFAIR & THE SAPPHIRE HEIST are being released by Montlake, which is an Amazon publishing company, and will only be available for sale at Amazon. You can download a free Kindle reading app for any smartphone or tablet here: http://amzn.to/1MIyrHi
He grabbed her waist and slammed her close. Her breath caught. He nipped her earlobe. 

“Admit it,” he growled. “Admit I am masterful at darts. Then, and only then, will I accept your rematch offer.”

She shook her head and made a move to reach for the dart in his hand. Like she was trying to subtly snatch it away. He clamped his palm around it and raised an eyebrow. 

“You trying to pickpocket me?”

“If pickpocketing from your hand counts, then yes. I was.” 

“You need a lesson in proper pickpocketing then, woman. You’re too obvious. Like you were in the alley earlier today.” 

“You’re telling me you know how to pick pockets, too?” She narrowed her eyes, skepticism in her tone as she grabbed her iced tea from the nearby counter and took a drink. 

He laughed. “I do. I don’t do it often, but it’s a useful skill.” 

She put down the glass, then parked her hands on her hips, hiking up her purse on her shoulder. “Teach me.” 

“Can’t really teach you everything in one night, but it’s all about the art of deception,” he said as he led her back to the dartboard. Grabbing a dart from the green felt, he raised it and took aim at the bull’s-eye. Her gaze followed the dart. “That means you need to get the person to look elsewhere, like at the dartboard.”

She nodded and stared at the dartboard. For one second. Two seconds. Three. Then it dawned on her. When she snapped her focus back to him, he brandished her wallet. 

“You got that from my purse,” she said, stomping a foot.

“I sure did. But that was the point. To show you how it’s done.” 

“OK,” she said, wiggling her fingers. “Let me try.” 

He taught her a few basic distraction tricks, and she practiced on him, dipping her hands in his pockets and trying to pilfer his watch. She was no pro, and he was aware of her moves every time. But her technique improved with the brief lesson. However, the constant gliding of her hands into his pockets zapped his focus away from teaching and onto the next phase oftonight. 

“That’s all for today’s lesson,” he said, since he had no more interest in being out with her. “Need to get you alone now.”

Her eyes told him she wanted that, too. “Let’s say good night to Marie.” 

She’d been busy all evening pulling the tap and pouring drinks, so he drummed his fingertips against the bar, tipped an imaginary hat to her, and waved good-bye. But she beckoned them over. “Hey. You found your sexy fisherman,” Marie said to Steph, flicking her long braid off her shoulder so it hung down her back. She turned to Jake. “And you found my favorite mermaid.”

“We did find each other,” Steph said in a sweet voice that nailed him right in the heart. We found each other. Those words. They pulsed with double meaning.

This begins right after the cliffhanger in The Sapphire Affair. Steph and Jake were having an island tryst and developing a partnership and some trust. But what happens when doubt creeps in? Are they really on the same team or is one of them being made a fool?

This is the second part of this who-dunnit-it missing diamonds caper with multiple antagonists and theories as to what is really going on. They both want answers but for somewhat different reasons. Steph still hopes that she can prove her step-father's innocence while getting some money back for her mother, while Jake just wants to do his job, make criminals pay, and restore missing money. But their smoking hot chemistry tends to distract each other from their investigation at times.

It's a fast-paced adventure of set ups, surveillance, heists, and shenanigans with twists, shifting theories, and diamond hunting in the Cayman Islands. But it is also a romance between two adventurous, fun loving people that have been burned in the past and have trust issues. It is only supposed to be an easy island affair, but could it be more? Their passion is not in question, but they are not supposed to get emotionally involved. They have to decide how many risks they are willing to take and how much they will open up and learn to trust. And they have to figure out what the real prize in the whole situation is.

This is a really fun duet that make perfect summer reads. It has Lauren Blakely's trademark humor, sexual tension, and steam, but with a side of island adventure and suspense. It was fun trying to solve the crimes along with them and determine who the real bad guys or girls were. There were some fun surprises and twists. Steph and Jake were totally likable characters with a great rapport and chemistry and I could not help but hope that they could find a way to find their way towards happiness. And it was sure fun going on the trip with them. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
As Stephanie and Jake work to learn what is really going on with Steph’s stepfather, their paths have split amid questions of loyalty and trust. The action picks up right where The Sapphire Affair leaves off, and some of my remaining questions found answers almost immediately.

This second half of Jake and Stephanie’s story is full of twists and turns as they continue tracking the money and diamonds. Sorting through clues leads them to even more questions -- where are the diamonds, who are the thieves, and who is following them?

I enjoyed getting to know more of the side characters in this book, but all those introductions only gave me more characters to question loyalty and motives. I liked how each new character had some motive in the overall search, making it just as hard for readers to trust as it was for Jake and Stephanie.

I gave this half of the story a slightly higher rating than the first book for a couple reasons. I have liked Stephanie and Jake from the beginning and their story as a whole, but it really needed this second half for the closure and the answers. I found myself reaching that point of "I can't put this down" much sooner in this book, and my excitement to find out what was really going on drove my rating higher. All of my questions were answered as these two faced new concerns as a couple. Even though things seemed to have smoothed out shortly after this book started, they were not finished with bumps in their road.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Sapphire Affair - coverThe Sapphire Affair (Jewel #1)
Lauren Blakely
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…
Author pic - Lauren Blakely
About Lauren Blakely: Since self-publishing her debut romance novel CAUGHT UP IN US three years ago, Lauren Blakely has sold more than 1 million books. She is known for her sexy contemporary romance style that’s full of heat, heart and humor. A devout fan of cake and canines, Lauren has plotted entire novels while walking her four-legged friends. She lives in California with her family. With nine New York Times bestsellers,her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller List more than three dozen times. Her bestselling series include Sinful Nights, Seductive Nights, No Regrets, Caught Up in Love and Fighting Fire. She recently released BIG ROCK, a sexy standalone romantic comedy that became an instant New York Times Bestseller. In the late spring, she’ll release MISTER O, another standalone romantic comedy.

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