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Today we are really pleased to welcome New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee.
Changing the Rules by Catherine Bybee ~ Review
Changing the Rules by Catherine Bybee is the first in a new series that takes readers on a thrilling ride. If people believe in the saying ‘the best is saved for last,’ then they have something to look forward to because this one is fantastic. There are bittersweet moments, plot twists, and surprises, with a lot of emotion. The characters are strong yet have a softer, gentler, more vulnerable side. The plot has the perfect balance of action and suspense intermingled with a little romance.
Readers familiar with Catherine Bybee might recognize some characters from past series. In the last book of the “First Wives Series,” Say It Again, the characters were Sasha Petrov Hoffman and Claire Kelly, the Richter Military School runaway who helped solve a murder along with Cooper Lockman. Now, both Claire and Cooper work for Neil McBain’s security company. This story has the security firm hired to fish out human traffickers who are targeting high school students. Claire, Cooper, and Jax, Claire’s best friend who also works for the security firm, go undercover at two high schools as seniors to try to find the people involved, while Cooper will be a substitute teacher and assistant track coach at the same school as Claire. Everyone is a suspect both students and faculty.
The banter between the characters is not only funny and entertaining, but also lightens the very serious topic of human trafficking. The romance has Cooper realizing he had feelings for Claire, but she was too young for him then. Neil, the head of the security firm, regards Claire as a daughter, and firmly suggests that Cooper work in the London office. Now, six years later, Cooper was brought back to work with Claire on the case. Both realize there is an attraction between them that cannot be ignored.
This story is a page turner filled with heart-wrenching and heart-warming scenes. The characters are strong but also vulnerable.
The Interview ~ Elise Cooper: Why human-trafficking?
Catherine Bybee: When I sat down to write this book, I wanted to highlight a real problem in this country that is being swept under the rug. I have a friend who worked with a division in the FBI, some neighbors who are District Attorneys, and a friend who is a Vice-Principal in a high school. They all talked about human trafficking that had my eyes opened. Someone who has low self-esteem or wants to be popular might hang out with the wrong crowd. I really wanted to highlight this in the story. My Vice-Principal friend would literally tell students to stay away from others because of the real threat of human trafficking.
EC: Did you exaggerate any of the atrocities?
CB: No, I did not. The majority of the time when teenagers are involved with human trafficking it starts out as a local crime. There is a local organized gang element that target those teenagers. I took the liberty of taking it out of state to make it a bigger situation. I did not encompass all the reality including farming out these teenagers into different countries or some who are forced into slavery to be domestic workers. What is true is how the teenagers are put into a situation that they do not know how to get out of and how they are manipulated with the threat of being harmed or killed.
EC: You had the high schools open without virtual learning?
CB: I did not have the book take place in 2020. I really do not think people want to read about what they are currently going through. Maybe, in the future, we will be able to reference it. We have all been living it, so nobody wants to read about it. I think this book is a cross between “21 Jump Street” and “Charlie’s Angels.”
EC: How would you describe Claire?
CB: A surprisingly grounded orphan. She is smart, driven, loyal, kicks butt, caring, adapts well, adventurous, rebellious, and at times sassy. She is the Mini-Me of Sasha who is like a sister to her, but not a mother figure.
EC: How would you describe Cooper?
CB: He is ex-military that would defend people to the end. Loyal, capable, one of the good guys that people are always searching for.
EC: What about the relationship?
CB: It is a slow burn. First, it was a friendship, then lovers, then in love. In the beginning, he was more infatuated with her. As she matured, she became ready for this relationship. She opened her eyes to new possibilities.
EC: What about the Richter Military School?
CB: As the series progresses readers learn more about the backstory. It is a military-type boarding school in Germany that is completely fictitious. They did it in secret, training spies and those in law enforcement.
EC: In this book you mention Algebra?
CB: Yes. I wrote that about Claire knowing the answers because that is what I wanted to do when I was in high school. A friend who Sasha was based upon, a PTA mom told me how she spoke French and Arabic. She was recruited by the CIA. She thought the American school system is really behind. After all, Algebra is one of the most useful math subjects.
EC: What about the scene with Shakespeare-that was hilarious?
CB: I am a frustrated Thespian. I came to California to be an actress but changed my mind to become a nurse. You must be referring to the scene where Claire says about Romeo and Juliet that it is “a stupid teenage drama.” My youngest son took this class and came home and said that. I also referenced how Shakespeare only left his wife a bed in his will. I found that tidbit piece of knowledge and put it in the story for everyone to learn.
EC: The series before this, “The Fire Series,” was also very compelling?
CB: That was a true trilogy with similar themes. I had the characters throughout each book. I have a hard time letting my characters disappear. I like to find out what happens to them. I had to write these books because it was such a traumatic time in my life. There are a lot of me in the characters: snarky, sarcastic, with some humor. All strong women.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?
CB: It is the second in this series, titled, A Thin Disguise, and will be out in July. The heroine is the assassin, Olivia. She is Jason Bourne, female style.
Changing the Rules by Catherine Bybee
From New York Times and USA Today, bestselling author Catherine Bybee comes the steamy first novel in her new adrenaline-fueled Richter series.
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?