Skip to content

New Release Review! CHANGING THE RULES by Catherine Bybee (Richter #1)

Catherine Bybee
CHANGING THE RULES
blog tour banner

Title: Changing the Rules
Author: Catherine Bybee
Release Date: March 23, 2021
Publisher: Montlake 

As an employee of MacBain Security and Solutions, Claire Kelly can certainly hold her own. Armed with an impressive set of covert skills, she’s more than prepared to tackle any job that comes her way…except one involving Cooper Lockman.

Cooper and Claire used to work together before his feelings for her sent him packing to Europe for six long years. But now he’s back and determined to ignore the still-smoldering heat that lingers between them.

Their current mission: go undercover together at a California high school to root out the mastermind behind a prostitution ring targeting young girls. The closer they get to the truth and the closer they get to each other, however, the deadlier their task becomes. As Claire and Cooper risk their lives to bring down their target, will their hearts be the final casualties?

Changing the Rules cover

Excerpt:

Claire collapsed onto the living room sofa the second she walked in the door. Not only had she suffered a headache the entire day, Cooper ran her like a trainer working an Iron Man competitor.

“That sounds like a bad day,” Jax said as she walked around the corner of the kitchen.

“You don’t want to know.”

Claire flung an arm over her eyes to block out the sun.

She heard Jax walk in the room and then exhale as she sat down. “You’re right. I don’t give a crap what happened in school, unless it involved Cooper. What I want is the details of last night after I got out of the car.”

Before Cooper picked them up, Claire and Jax had agreed that Jax would give them a few minutes to have a private conversation. Now Claire regretted that plan.

“The long story, or the short story?” Claire asked.

“Whatever one you want to deliver.”

Claire’s arms slid off her head, and she pushed herself into a sitting position.

“Cooper has a thing for me.”

Jax sat silent, blinked a few times. “Okay, and?”

“What do you mean, ‘okay, and?’”

“Sorry, Claire, but that’s obvious. I think you’d have to be an idiot to not see it. Even the guys on the team see it.”

“What? Are they talking about—”

Jax stopped her with a shake of the head. “Of course not. But you can tell by how they look at the two of you that they know there’s an attraction.”

Claire pointed to her chest. “I’m not doing anything, it’s him.”

“Maybe it’s more him.”

She kept shaking her head. “No, it’s all him. I’m not instigating anything.”

“You flirt with him all the time.”

“I do not,” Claire huffed.

One look from Jax and she rescinded her statement. “Okay, we banter. But it’s always been like that. I have the pool stick, he makes some kind of phallic joke. It’s banter. Not flirting.”

Jax sat back, crossed her arms over her chest. Claire couldn’t believe her best friend was calling her out. “We’re friends. And last night he ruined that by telling me he’s had a thing for me since we met. Told me he left sunny California for dreary London because I was too young and naive to handle him when I first got here.”

Jax narrowed her eyes. “Is that really how he said that?”

Claire’s headache was coming back. “No. He said I was a child.”

“A child?”

Claire stood up from the couch, started for the kitchen. “He kept repeating that I was eighteen back then.”

Jax followed behind. “Which is true.”

Claire yanked open the fridge, pulled out a beer. “Whose side are you on?”

“Yours. Always. But I just don’t see where all the fire is about this. Cooper owns up to the flirting comments and puppy-dog looks he gives you, and you’re pissed because he walked away six years ago.”

Like picking a lock, the pieces slid into place and finally started to click. “But he’s my friend.”

“Trying to say you’ve never thought of him as more?”

“No.” Her denial was quick.

Jax started to smile. “You’ve never checked out his ass? The guy can fill out a pair of jeans.”

Some of the anger she’d harbored all day eased. “That’s true.”

“And that smile. When he’s belly laughing he has the tiniest dimples.”

Claire closed her eyes, pictured his smile. She hadn’t noticed the dimples, but now that she thought about it . . . She opened her eyes to find Jax staring at her.

“Sounds like you have a thing for him,” Claire said.

“Wouldn’t matter if I did, and I don’t, by the way, but it wouldn’t matter. The guy can’t stop looking at you.”

“God, what am I going to do with him?”

“I don’t think you have to do anything. It’s not like he asked you out and you said no and now it’s awkward.”

“You’re right. It’s worse than that.”

“You’re overthinking it.” Jax pushed off the counter. “You know what, let’s gussy up a little and hit a proper happy hour. We’ll talk in German and pretend we don’t speak English and shamelessly flirt.”

Claire abandoned her beer. “Now that is exactly what I need to do and get my mind off of boys.”

Review:

Changing the Rules is one of those books that is likely to have you turning the pages when you know darn well you have other things you’re supposed to be doing, like sleeping 😉 Claire and Cooper are great characters, and once their undercover mission gets started the story will absolutely sweep you away.

Apparently if you were a fan of the 21 Jump Street television series, then this book will likely be your jam–one of the secondary characters even mentions it at one point. Since I barely know more about the series than Claire does (I’ve at least heard of it) I can’t say how much it is or isn’t like it for certain, but from my coworker’s description (once she got past the “I don’t know if we can still be friends” part of her lecture) it sounds pretty similar.

At least Claire wasn’t nearly as bored with her job at the end of the book as she was at the beginning–plus now she has Cooper, so bonus 😉

To be honest, I felt a little lost for the first few chapters of this book–it’s been several years since I’ve read anything from Catherine Bybee, and though this is the first book in her new series, Claire, whose POV is dominant in the beginning of the book, references back to a lot of people and incidents that apparently happened in another series (mainly Say It Again though her boss Neil has apparently appeared in three different series) without much explanation, and I kept thinking, wait, should I know who these people are? Once the main plot of this book really got underway it drew me in, but Claire’s old school (Richter, where this series gets its name) and the things that happened there come up a lot throughout this entire book, so reading that one at least before this wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I really did enjoy this book–the characters are great, and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat (and up too late), for sure!–but I did feel left out of the backstory loop quite a bit. So if you have the time and means, I definitely suggest reading Say It Again before this one, if you haven’t already. If you don’t, just keep reading through the barrage of other characters and past references Claire hits you with, the story’s about to suck you in really soon 😉

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

About the Author:

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than five million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series.

Social Media Links:
Website: http://www.catherinebybee.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCatherineBybee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinebybee
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2905789.Catherine_Bybee

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Published in4 starsB+blog tourBook reviewsBOOKS!excerptGIVEAWAYnew releasespotlight
%d bloggers like this: