Claire Kelley is back and she’s all grown up. As a graduate of the infamous Richter Academy, twenty something Claire has unique skills that are being wasted in her current job with MacBain Security. She’s bored silly babysitting celebrities, getting more restless every day, so when the opportunity comes along to go undercover in a teen sex trafficking/prostitution case, she’s all in. Claire’s always looked much younger than her age so passing for a high school senior is no problem.
Her teammate on this assignment is Cooper Lockman. He and Claire worked together several years earlier before he transferred to Germany. Back in the States now, Cooper is doubling on this gig as a shop teacher and track coach. The theory is there’s a dirty cop and probably a faculty or staff member facilitating the mastermind behind this heinous scheme. As MacBain’s agents, Claire and Cooper have latitude and resources not available to law enforcement and as they dig deeper and get closer to the truth the danger increases exponentially, right alongside their attraction to each other. Can they survive the physical and the emotional danger?
In “Changing the Rules” Claire resurfaces as a Richter graduate where she learned weapons, hand-to-hand combat, martial arts and everything else one learns in extensive boot camp type training. So her biggest challenge on this assignment is to keep her unique skills hidden while giving a convincing performance as a bright but bored teen, teetering on the edge of trouble. Cooper’s biggest challenge will be keeping his hands off Claire. He’s been in love with her since she was eighteen and now that she’s a woman, he’s not sure he can maintain his hands-off policy.
“Changing the Rules” is the first book in Bybee’s new Richter Series which has its roots in “Say It Again”, the fifth book of the First Wives series. However, each is a standalone and can be read and enjoyed without having read the others. Claire’s character is a delightful mix of sass and brilliance. It’s easy to believe her as a smart mouthed teenager, constantly pushing the limits and secretly hoping someone will care enough to curb her self-destructive tendencies. Cooper is equally endearing in his own right, surprising himself as a teacher that successfully connects with his students. Pretty amazing given that he’s not really a teacher. Added to the exceptional character development is an original and suspenseful plot with chilling possibilities. Bybee’s reputation as a gifted storyteller is well established and I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the range and depth of her talent. Four stars.