Changing the Rules

About

BRAND NEW RELEASE!

As an employee of MacBain Securities 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 by Catherine Bybee

As their mission becomes deadlier, two security professionals with a complicated past discover the still-smoldering heat that lingers between them. Have you started the first steamy novel in the new series from bestselling author Catherine Bybee Romance Author? Amazon.com/ChangingTheRules

Posted by Amazon Publishing on Monday, March 29, 2021

Excerpt

Claire Kelly maneuvered around the auction table, her eyes in constant motion as she watched for anyone who might think to take one of the many pricey trinkets on display. A form-fitting black dress hugged her frame and stopped before her knees. She wore her strawberry blonde hair straight, and only a minimal amount of makeup dusted her features. Claire silently swore at the pain of her feet pinched into shoes that brought her to a height three inches taller than what her driver’s license said she was.

The guests at the charity auction were dressed to impress. The women wore cocktail dresses, and the men wore suits. Because the event was invitation only, the philanthropic, star-filled guest list mandated serious security. That was where Claire came in. Well, she and her colleagues at MacBain Security and Solutions.

She preferred the solutions part of the job as opposed to a security detail, unless the security detail gave her the opportunity to kick someone’s ass for breaching it. When the guest list was drawn from Hollywood’s famous, Billboard’s top artists, and people who frequent the Forbes list of richest Americans, ass kicking would have to wait for another day.

“Ready for a break, Loki?”

Claire smiled at the use of the nickname she acquired in her boarding school. A name she had needed to keep her identity ambiguous should the headmistress stumble upon the covert communications between her and her best friend, Jax. “Yes, please,” Claire said into the small microphone none of the guests could see she was wearing.

After rounding the table, Jax smiled at her briefly and took Claire’s position so she could step away.

Everywhere Claire looked she saw bling. The women wore dangling earrings encrusted in diamonds, and necklaces sporting every possible gemstone out there. “There’s some serious money here,” Claire said into her microphone to everyone on the team who cared to listen.

“I’m not sure why this surprises you,” Sasha replied.

“If they didn’t have money, we wouldn’t have jobs,” Lars added.

Twilight settled into night, and strings of lights illuminated the outside venue in a magical way. The massive Victorian had coastal views and a large piece of property. The charity event was raising money for a home for orphaned children and teens. It had grown through the years, according to Neil, and with it the celebrity guest list that made the event a who’s who of the rich and famous.

In the six and a half years she’d been employed with Neil MacBain, Claire had met several of the people milling about the lawn. No longer did she feel starstruck when she saw a familiar artist or celebrity. She was numb to it, in all reality. Between the famous people that Neil and his wife knew, and all of their close, personal friends, it appeared that he knew just about everyone.

Claire walked around the back of the house to where the small mobile office was parked. She pressed in the code on the keypad and smiled at the camera focused on the door before making her way inside.

Lars was one of the oldest members on the team. He was not quite five ten with a bit more of fluff around his middle and a sprinkling of gray hair, but that didn’t fool her. The man could move if he needed to. She’d seen him do it. He sat at a desk filled with monitors that displayed live streams from all the cameras around the venue.

“It’s perfectly boring out there,” Claire announced.

Lars pushed the microphone in front of his lips out of the way. “Just the way we like it.”

She motioned toward the door. “You need a break?”

He shook his head. “I’m good.”

She glanced at the monitors again. “We could use someone trying to smash and grab right about now,” she said almost to herself.

Lars chuckled.

“Be careful what you wish for.” The voice in her ear belonged to Neil.

“I thought you weren’t working this event,” Claire said.

Lars pointed to the monitor. Neil stood beside his regal blonde bombshell of a wife. He wore a suit, but his clothing was the only thing that blended with the crowd.

Neil was a brick house of a man. The perfect bodyguard. Which was what he leaned on after he left the Marines. He hid behind the title of bodyguard until he married. Then he branched into a team environment. Years later he had the crew here in California, and another one in the United Kingdom.
“Look who cleans up well,” Claire teased Neil through the microphone.
“What have I said about chatter on the line?”

Claire rolled her eyes and shook her head, but kept her mouth shut.
The announcement for the silent auction tables closing was broadcast over the PA, which gave her a job to do.

Pushing off the wall, she patted Lars on the back. “That’s my cue.”
Back outside the trailer, she pulled down on the hem of the cocktail dress she still hadn’t completely gotten used to wearing. Blend in, she’d been told. The place had security everywhere. The men wore three-piece suits and looked like they were personal bodyguards. And in reality, there were a few of those there as well. But Jax, Sasha, and Claire wore dresses. Granted, there was an awful lot of spandex in the dresses they wore, on the off chance they needed to interact with anyone up to no good. But they were still dresses.

When the auction table came into view, those at the event who were bent on winning something hovered over the items and waited for the countdown so they could write their names in the final and winning spot. Which meant the table was packed with people.

Claire noticed the back of Jax’s head at the far end.

“Everything good down there?” she said into her mic.

Jax didn’t respond.

Claire tapped on the microphone that looked like one of the many beads on her dress. “Yoda?” She used Jax’s nickname.

When she didn’t respond a second time, Claire tapped on the microphone again. “Lars, is there an issue with the mics?”

Her earpiece crackled, almost like it was underwater.

“Great.” The state-of-the-art, high-end toys were shockingly reliable in difficult situations like jumping between rooftops and surviving hand-to-hand combat, but apparently walking around a lawn party was when they failed. “If anyone can hear me, my audio took a hike. I can’t hear any of you.”

Silence met her.

Instead of returning to the trailer, Claire waded through the crowd and did her job.

She was in charge of the east end of the table, and Jax was on the west.
The announcer started the final countdown, and a buzz went up among the hovering guests.

Claire smiled at people as they stepped in front of her, but then looked around them to lay eyes on one of three extremely pricey items up for auction. Items that were small enough for someone to walk away with.
A man stood in front of the pair of diamond earrings. The woman with him smiled as he wrote his name slowly.

Next was a sapphire-and-diamond tennis bracelet where a lone woman was also writing her name.

Then there was a Victorian brooch that was previously owned by some famous woman Claire didn’t know. The starting bid was twenty thousand dollars. But at last look, the bid was nearly double that. It, too, was where it needed to be.

“Three, two, one. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to step away from the auction to enjoy the rest of the evening.” With the final direction from the announcer, she heard the first chords of a guitar strummed from the stage. The band hired for the evening welcomed everyone.

The coordinators for the event started to push in as the guests dispersed.
Her gaze ignored those acting as they should and instead found a man who switched places with the woman gunning for the bracelet. His back to her, Claire started to move forward.

His hand reached out to touch the jewelry. Something many of the guests had done all night. But when Claire peered closer, she saw something dangle in his fingers for less than a second. A flick of his hand, he switched the bracelet on the table with whatever he had in his palm. If she’d blinked, she would have missed it.

Her heartbeat sounded in her ears as her adrenaline started to pump.
“We have a situation,” Claire said into her mic as she moved to intercept the man.

The silence that followed had her cussing dysfunctional equipment.

She didn’t run, didn’t call out. These events called for diplomacy, so unless someone was flashing a weapon, the team was meant to apprehend and deal with any situation with as few witnesses as possible.

The thief kept his back to her as he slowly walked away. Unlike the other guests, he wasn’t headed to a table or the bar line that never seemed to end. He headed toward the back of the house to where the catering vans were clustered.

Claire looked away for less than a second to signal to Jax. Only Jax’s view was blocked by the exiting guests. When Claire looked back, the man was slipping around the house and out of view.

She reached down and took off one spikey heel and then the next before she picked up her pace.

“Someone lifted the sapphires and is headed to the back of the house. If anyone can hear me. Male, approximately six one, wearing a black suit.” Just like every other man there. “I didn’t see his face. He is on the heavier side and needs a haircut.”

As soon as the voices behind her drifted away, Claire started to run, her shoes dangling in her hand.

The side of the house was deserted, only the fleeing thief swiftly walking away.

“Hey!” Claire yelled.

He didn’t look back.

Instead, he started to run.

Claire had the advantage. If there was something she took pride in, it was her ability to beat anyone on the team in a one-hundred-meter dash. So she dashed. Her skirt hiked higher and her legs took off.

She was on him before he reached the pavement.

Her arms tackled his waist from behind and brought him to the ground.
He rolled with her.

Claire attempted to grab onto his skin through his clothing and found her hands filled with padding. Almost like he was wearing something under his suit.

He used her hesitation to twist out of her grasp and scramble to his feet.
Only she was faster. She kicked his legs out from under him before he managed to run a second time.

She jumped onto his back and had his right hand twisted behind him and her knee to the back of his shoulder blades, pinning him to the ground face first. “You’re not getting away, buddy,” she said between pants.

He heaved his body and Claire put more pressure on his arm. “Okay,” she heard him say. And then, for whatever reason, the man’s body started to shake.

With laughter.

She pulled on his arm again.

“Okay, uncle.” Something about his voice.

“Who are . . .” Her hold softened, she moved her knee from his spine, and the man twisted out from under her. Without warning, she was on her back and he was straddling her.

Clear, calculated, and well-practiced moves started to unfold inside of her. Her arms and legs moved at the same time. Her knee came up and met something entirely too hard to be mistaken for flesh, especially male genitalia, which was what she was aiming for. Even without that jarring surprise, she twisted her legs up with his and heaved her weight until he was on the ground under her.

And he was still laughing.

Claire brushed the hair out of the man’s face and finally saw him.

Her mouth opened and her eyes narrowed.

“Cooper?” Their eyes connected.

“Hello, Yearling.”

The Book

Changing The Rules
The Richter Series, Book One
A First Wives Spin-Off
March 2021, First Edition
eBook & Print

Ranks & Awards

#1 AMAZON NEW RELEASE IN ACTION & ADVENTURE ROMANCE
#2 AMAZON BESTSELLER IN CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE (BOOKS)
#1 AMAZON BESTSELLER IN ACTION & ADVENTURE ROMANCE (KINDLE STORE & BOOKS)
#3 AMAZON BESTSELLER IN WOMEN’S FRIENDSHIP FICTION
#14 AMAZON KINDLE BESTSELLER

Reviews

“Spicy, mysterious, and deliciously romantic! Changing the Rules is an action-packed, menacing, addictive novel with irresistible characters that I devoured from start to finish. It captivated, amused, and thoroughly entertained me.”
—WHAT’S BETTER THAN BOOKS?

“When it comes to writing contemporary romance with an edge of suspense, Catherine Bybee can do no wrong. Changing the Rules was an intense but fun novel where ancillary cast members from previous series found it was finally their turn to shine.”
—HARLEQUIN JUNKIE

“Changing the Rules by Catherine Bybee is the first in a new series that takes readers on a thrilling ride…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.”
—CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE

“Wow! This story incorporates everything a reader could beg for in a deliciously suspenseful love story. Ms. Bybee weaves so many threads together so deftly that one is gifted with a rich cast of characters that readers can feel  truly care about each other, along with a riveting suspense/mystery and a steamily smoldering romance, all tied together to create a memorable one-sitting experience!…this one is definitely a keeper!“
—IND’TALE MAGAZINE, CROWNED HEART FOR EXCELLENCE

“Catherine Bybee is one of the few authors I stalk to see when she’s releasing something new. I enjoy her books and she’s not one to write the same thing over and over again. Changing the Rules is the first book in a new series. It is more of an in the field and in the thick of the action suspense title than roll in the sheets a million times romance.”
—STEPHANIE’S BOOK REPORTS

“The twists, turns and unexpected ending will keep you wanting more, and  you will understand the need for changing the rules.”
—BOOK PLEASURES

“…an extra dash of suspense at the end was unexpected and surprising…”
—THE BOOK DECODER

“With an impressive blending of romance with action/adventure, Changing the Rules by Catherine Bybee is an inherently absorbing and compulsive page turner of a read from cover to cover. A fully entertaining novel by an author with a genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling, Changing the Rules is the first volume in Catherine Bybee’s new ‘Richter’ series and will leave her fully satisfied readers looking early toward the next volume of romance and adventure!”
—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

“Changing the Rules was an excellent beginning to a new series, by an author that always brings her A game. The slow build of the romance, coupled with the investigation into their case kept me turning the pages of this one right up to the gripping finale. I absolutely loved it!”
—NEVER SLEEP BOOK BLOG

“I really enjoyed the relationship between Cooper and Claire…”
—BOOK DEVIL REVIEWS

“The entire story is classic Bybee, with smooth as silk writing that is an absolute delight to read and characters that are so real they could jump off the page! The author does a fabulous job of combining multiple genre aspects as well. We get to enjoy a bit of mystery, a dose of suspense, mixed with a scrumptious romance!”
—TJ MACKAY, PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AT IND’TALE MAGAZINE

“This [Changing the Rules] was my first read from this author, but it will not be the last.”
—SIMPLY KELINA

“I really liked this story. It is a romantic suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. I was so drawn to this story, that I finished it in one day. The hero is the perfect alpha male; he is protective and strong. The heroine is strong and independent, and they are the perfect couple. This is a first for me from this author, and I can’t wait for more in this series.”
—WICKED READS

“WOW, this blew my socks off … The story was gripping, fast-paced, and very interesting.”
—TILLY, BOOKISH SPOONIE REVIEWS

“Absolutely amazing! Catherine Bybee never fails to deliver. This had it all, smouldering romance, quick and witty lines and suspense by the boat load.”
—SUSANNE, GOODREADS

“This story was incredible. The characters were real and flawed and so easy to fall in love with. Cooper is my new book boyfriend for sure. The author does an excellent job of making you feel in this story. There are no slow parts, and the novel really held my attention.”
—BOOKS, WRITING, & MORE

“I could not put this book down! Catherine Bybee always tells an excellent story, and this one was no exception. Suspense, mystery, romance.”
—KRISTEN, GOODREADS

Quick Links

Reading Order

BOOK ONE

BOOK TWO

BOOK THREE