Question and Answer
CHANGING THE RULES: Book One of the Richter Series (Amazon Publishing; March 23, 2021)
Q. Catherine, welcome to the Totally Addicted to Reading website. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
A. I’ll start by talking about the loves of my life. I’m the mother of two wonderful sons that I couldn’t be more proud of. Although, I never expected my empty nest to be so…well…empty. I am happily divorced and living my best life in San Diego with ocean breezes and salt water dreams. The majority of my working life has been spent as an RN in busy emergency rooms throughout Southern California. The book fodder that career has given me was well worth the twelve-hour shifts and back pain. I fell in love with the romance genre with the first book I read. I gobbled them up in high school and promised myself that one day I’d join the ranks of published authors. Lucky for me word processor was invented with this amazing thing called spell-check. I don’t take myself too seriously. I laugh as often as I can and try to make those around me do the same. When the world isn’t shut down, you can usually find me traveling all over the globe. I have a huge bucket list and try to check off items every couple of months.
Q. What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
A. Have you ever read a book and found yourself asking, “Well, it’s all great and wonderful that AJ and Sasha made a life for themselves…but what ever happened to Claire?” THAT is what inspired this novel. Claire first showed up in the world of Bybee Romance in a different book, and I wanted to explore her story.
I had built an entire world completely by accident when I developed Richter, a military style boarding school in Germany. This was done in The First Wives Series and I couldn’t let it go. I needed to know more about the students that went there, were forced to leave there and take jobs they didn’t want to do. These Richter graduates are lethal operatives that can be used for good… or evil. And how fun is that for an author to explore?
Q. CHANGING THE RULES, the first book Richter series, just released this month. Tell us about it!
A. Claire and Cooper work for a security firm. The two of them are placed undercover in a California high school to root a human trafficking ring targeting teenage girls. Think 21 Jump Street meets Charlie’s Angels with Russian mob bosses, and you might start to get the picture of the plot. Oh, and a sizzling romance between two characters that have kinda had the hots for each other for a while. My readers will happily see characters from books they have read before with new ones to breathe fresh life, along with all the Bybee banter, laughter, edge-of-your-seat action and sigh-worthy moments.
Q. Is there a particular character in CHANGING THE RULES that you relate to? Why is that?
A. It is hard to write a heroine and not relate to her on some level. Claire is confident but still vulnerable. She has a chosen family and not one that is born of blood. And that was me for most of my very young years. While I did have family, I was not close to them. So I suppose that also makes me and Jax a little more alike. But that is a book a little farther off.
Q. Has the pandemic and lockdown changed your writing schedule? If yes, how?
A. Yes. The pandemic has changed so many things. In the beginning it was almost impossible to concentrate, then the ideas felt as if they were drying up. Left with nothing to do but write, you’d think that would be all you’d do… but no. Now that the world is opening up again, especially here in California, I’m finding my days filed with the things we couldn’t do before, and my evenings on my computer. Which is what I like to do.
Q. You have such a gift for creating strong, captivating characters. Can you give us any hints about your next book projects?
A. I have just finished up the third book in this series (Jax’s story) and have left it open for more. Now I’m starting a completely new branch on Bybee books based here where I live in San Diego. Centered around a family living and working in Little Italy. Spoiler alert… you may crave a steamy bowl of pasta and want to say “Ciao” when you wave to your friends after reading.
Excerpt from Changing the Rules by Catherine Bybee
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.”
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.”
Title: Changing the Rules
Author(s): Catherine Bybee
Series: Richter Series #1
Also in this series: CHANGING THE RULES, A Thin Disguise
Published by Montlake on March 23, 2021
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?