Changing the Rules (Richter Book 1)
March 23rd, 2021
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.
The author noted, “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.”
“I did not exaggerate the atrocities. 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.”
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.
“I wrote Claire as 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. While Cooper is ex-military that would defend people to the end. Loyal, capable, one of the good guys that people are always searching for.”
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.
“For the relationship, I wanted it to be 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.”
This story is a page turner filled with heart-wrenching and heart-warming scenes. The characters are strong but also vulnerable.