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Never Play Fair (Sydney Evans, #2) by Leah Cupps 

A truly explosive follow-up to WHAT LIES IN PARADISE! 

After her grandmother's death, social media influencer Sydney Evans returned home to her Chicago condo emotionally exhausted, only to find Special Agent Elena Browne on her doorstep. It seems Sydney's boyfriend, Alex Birch, an agent himself, had gone missing somewhere in Central America while investigating the international criminal Vincente Estavez. The Bureau wanted to know if she had any information about Alex's last whereabouts. However, it had been days since she'd last spoken with Alex, and to her regret, the phone call had ended somewhat abruptly with him telling her he loved her, and she hesitating to reply in kind. 

Unfortunately, Sydney was all too familiar with Estavez and his capabilities. The previous year, and how she met Alex, Estavez had been responsible for the murder of one of her best friends. Jack, her husband at the time, had abandoned her, faking his own death to escape Estavez's wrath when he and his twin brother had meddled in his dirty online gambling business. Now the Bureau wanted her help to find Alex but to do so, she would have to get back in touch with Jack. 

Never Play Fair, the second book in the Sydney Evans series is the explosive follow-up to the exciting series debut, What Lies in Paradise. Though this entry can be read as a standalone, reading the previous book first is recommended. Sydney is emotionally-spent after caring for her grandmother during her final months of life, but truth be told, her PTSD from a wedding fiasco in Jamaica had already worn her down. She and Alex have a romance that has quickly gotten serious; however, Sydney is second-guessing her feelings and ability to commit to a relationship again after what she'd gone through with Jack. 

Jack is back, and so is his brother, Ethan. The story unfolds not only from Sydney's point of view but that of the two brothers as well, and readers are privy to the guys' more honest thoughts and feelings. I loved this triple view of the events occurring in the story. 

The action got going quickly, and the story flew by without slowing down. The prologue is an absolute attention-grabber! There are also some very tantalizing glimpses of Costa Rica's west coast that give the action a sultry, noir feel at times. 

With a fascinating triumvirate of characters providing the narrative and a plot that takes off like a speed boat, I recommend NEVER PLAY FAIR to mystery readers who enjoyed the first book in the series and those who like fast action, good guys that aren't so good, and stories featuring online gambling.

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