Title: Changing the Rules
Author: Catherine Bybee
Release Date: March 23, 2021
Exclusive Excerpt from Changing the Rules by Catherine Bybee
“Wow, why are you girls all dolled up?” Lars asked before he sat down.
“Jax has a date,” Claire announced.
“What’s your excuse?” Cooper asked. “Do you have a date, too?” His eyes walked up and down her body. She was wearing a dress, which she didn’t often do unless she was painting the town with her best friend.
But sometimes, when she’d been cooped up too long and hadn’t been able to shop or let her hair down, or be something other than a girl trapped in a world she didn’t want . . . yeah, at those times she needed to get out. It was her release valve.
Jax started to laugh.
Claire followed Cooper’s gaze in Jax’s direction.
“Claire doesn’t date!”
The hair on her neck started to stand on end.
Jax leaned her head back and laughed. “No, what you do doesn’t classify as dating.”
Much as Claire wanted to disagree, she knew her friend spoke the truth. It wasn’t that she had an aversion to dating, there just didn’t seem to be enough datable guys out there.
“What the hell does that mean?” Cooper’s tone was anything but happy as he asked the question.
Claire was about to ask why he cared when Neil stepped forward. “Are we done with the chitchat and ready to work?”
“Technically this is my day off.”
Neil’s expression told Claire he wasn’t amused.
Cooper looked like he had more to say, but kept his lips shut. Lars patted Cooper on the back as he walked by. “I need coffee.”
“There’s a fresh pot in the surveillance room,” Claire informed him.
“We start in ten,” Neil said before heading to his office.
Once the door was closed, Cooper slid beside Claire. “Mind elaborating about this ‘doesn’t date’ thing?”
“Why are you so interested?” And why was Cooper standing so close and watching her as if an expression was going to give something away?
When his eyes dropped to her lips, her belly did a little twist.
It was then that her brain started to short-circuit and the coffee felt bitter in the back of her throat.
There were two reasons a man stared at a woman’s lips.
The first was if they were a family member or possibly a gay friend that wanted to comment on the shade of lipstick.
And the second . . . he wanted to kiss her.
She blinked several times.
Cooper wanted to taste her.
The realization of that fact had her head spinning. Then, because she couldn’t stop herself from looking, she took in his lips, and then the expression on his face.
So many things clicked together. With them, a thousand questions.
Lars pushed through the door from the surveillance room talking and had Cooper taking a step back. “Have you met the new guy?”
Claire’s eyes stayed on Cooper. “Yes, I have.”
Cooper blinked and turned away. “I have not.”
A few more steps and Cooper walked into the other room.
“What the actual hell?” Claire asked the universe out loud.
Lars walked by, oblivious to what had just happened.
Claire glanced over at Jax to see her soft smile.
In German, Claire asked, “Did you see that?”
“I felt the static in the room,” Jax replied.
“You know it’s rude to speak in a different language, right?” Lars said. Jax shook her head and went back to writing on the whiteboard. “Sorry,” she replied in English.
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?
Changing the Rules is the first book in the Richter series by Catherine Bybee. We met Claire and Cooper in Say it Again and I was so happy when I heard they were getting a book! I loved Claire as soon as she said “Put it away Cooper. You’re too old for me.” And not only that, we get to see Neil, Gwen and Sasha again. I was so engaged with this story that I didn’t want to put it down. Claire isn’t a kid anymore. She’s grown up, working for Neil and loving her job. Cooper left town for six years and now he’s back. Claire hasn’t seen him since and she’s so happy to have her friend back. But Cooper can’t hide his feeling for Claire anymore and when she sees what everyone else sees, she can’t stop thinking about him. They have a job to do though and she’s going undercover as a student and he as a teacher. While they are at school it’s business, but after Cooper is just glad she’s not eighteen anymore. They have a serious job to do, tracking down a group of sex trafficking people, some of which might be teachers or undercover cops. I didn’t even know who to trust! I had my favorites and prayed it wasn’t them! I loved Claire’s teenage antics and her confidence and attitude. Cooper was swoonworthy as he put it all on the line with Claire. His honesty just made him sexier! And then she was saying “Put it away Cooper. We don’t have time for that right now.” I’m already loving the secondary characters and can’t wait for more from this series (Give me Leo!) Overall, I loved Cooper and Claire. There were fun, hilarious, sexy and sweet!
About the Author
New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than five million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series.
Social Media Links
Release Date: March 15, 2021
Purchase here: https://geni.us/AmazonFeatherbed
Add to Goodreads here: https://bit.ly/3mKWKXJ
Vino & Veritas Series Page: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/vino-and-veritas/
Cover Design: Christine Coffey
When a bookworm on borrowed time meets a younger, free-spirited chicken farmer, sparks and feathers fly…
Harrison Phillip Fletcher, III isn’t supposed to be here. Not in Burlington, Vermont, not running Vino & Veritas, a quaint inclusive bookstore and wine bar, and definitely not still alive, at forty-two. Also not supposed to be here? An unexpected delivery of chickens.
Finn Barnes knows chickens. The burly organic farmer knows all about rare breed poultry, but dealing with a hot, older bookseller is an entirely different matter. City slicker types like Harrison never end up staying in Vermont for the long-term.
They should steer clear of each other. But the flare of attraction is mutual. And somehow amid book discussions and farm tours, they discover plenty in common. Now they’re stealing kisses in Finn’s barn, sneaking out like teens, and burning up the sheets.
What starts as a fling brings very real feelings for two lonely souls, but a future together seems as unlikely as chickens in a bookstore. Feathers may be flying, but learning to trust takes time neither may have. Can they take a leap of faith together before it’s too late?
Featherbed is a stand-alone novel in Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. This opposites-attract, age-gap romance features a low-angst, fluffy—and feathery—romp as a fish out of water discovers the home he never thought he’d find.
Featherbed is Annabeth Albert’s newest fun, sexy romance with an older bookstore owner and a young chicken farmer. I love a good age gap romance and this one was so good! This is a standalone in Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. All of these books are going to be awesome! This is Finn, the sexy farmer and Harrison, the new to Vermont bookstore/wine bar owner. A mix-up with a chicken delivery brings these two together and the instant attraction keeps them coming back for more. Excuses to see each other again. Brief, hot kisses that lead to more. But they are both so busy so it’s just going to be casual. Until it’s not. Finn is afraid Harrison won’t be able to stick it out in Vermont. Harrison has anxiety about his future. But can they work past their fears and admit it’s more than they asked for? It’s actually everything. I love this story! It was funny and sexy and sweet and a little dirty and I don’t mean the chickens! I loved the way Finn and Harrison bantered and just meshed their lives without even really knowing it. It’s a feel good romance with fun characters, family, sexiness, books and cute little animals. What’s not to love!
“What’s next?” Harrison was so serious that I wasn’t sure whether he meant us or the shelf project, but I couldn’t resist messing with him a little.
“Screwing,” I deadpanned.
Predictably, Harrison made a sputtering noise. “Pardon?”
“With a drill, Harry.” I held up the trusty cordless I’d retrieved. “With a drill.”
“No one calls me Harry.” His mouth pursed. I wanted to kiss it. Perversely, the more uptight he got, the more I wanted to unravel him.
“Not even your mom?” I found the correct drill bit for the project and slotted it in.
“Ha.” Harrison had locked his gaze on my hands in a way that made me both self-conscious and more than a little turned-on. “I call her Mom only because she dislikes the formality of Mother.”
“Whereas you love the formality. I get it. Harry.” I put deliberate emphasis on the nickname, so that I could categorize all the different shades of pink and purple he was turning. Besides, it was a good distraction from how his shrewd eyes made me feel.
“You’re fun to harass.” I grinned at him, which earned me an eye roll in return.
“I try. Now give me something to do.”
“Okay, okay. Back to work. You can help by measuring to mark each of the screw holes.”
“Why do construction terms always sound so suggestive?”
“Because you have a dirty mind, Harry.” I gave him an exaggerated leer.
“You better stop that.” He didn’t sound particularly convincing.
“Stop teasing or stop looking at you?” Laughing, I waggled the drill in his direction. “I’ll remind you that I’m the one holding power tools.”
“So you are.” Harrison kept holding my gaze, eyes soft and expectant behind his glasses, tongue darting out to lick at his lips. In that moment, he was infinitely appealing and nothing at all like Astin.
Maybe I’d been mistaken in thinking he was a branch of the same tree of rich dudes who had no issues taking what they wanted. Like him, Astin had favored designer clothing, pricey-looking watches, and the same luxury brand car, and had also dropped clues about inheritances. But unlike Astin, there was a certain humility to Harrison, and he didn’t try to tell me how to do my job.
Oh, Harrison was still a city slicker, and probably not sticking around, but he wasn’t an entitled asshole either. He wanted to kiss me. That want was all over his face, but so was his restraint. As with the woodworking, he’d let me lead. He’d wait for me to make my move and didn’t have a ready arsenal of slick lines. His uncertainty was perhaps the most charming thing about him.
And so, still meeting his eyes, I set the drill back down on the workbench. “No power tools now. You still want to shut me up?”
I stepped closer, in case he had any doubt as to my intent. He smelled good. Expensive, like someone had married delicate herbs and leather scents in an aftershave that probably cost more than a year’s supply of my soap.
“Yeah. I think I do.” His cultured voice had gone husky, but still contained that vulnerability I found so damn intoxicating.
“Show me.” Touching the sleeve of his waffle-knit sweater, I turned him toward me. There. I’d made my move. The next was his.
Title: Starting From The Top
Series: Starting From, #5
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Release Date: March 8, 2021
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Genre: Romance, Age Gap, Rock and Roll, Hurt and Comfort, Bisexual, Contemporary Romance
The guitarist, the dad, and a band on the rise…
A quiet place to live and some time to recharge before my band heads out on the road again sounds amazing. I wouldn’t mind a distraction too, but my new neighbor is off-limits. There are rules about not getting involved with your bandmate’s ex, right? And Sean isn’t my type anyway. He’s too bossy, too commanding, and he has way too much baggage. I’ve learned that it’s best to let go of the heavy stuff. So why am I so drawn to him?
Coming out later in life has taught me to protect my privacy at all costs. And while juggling a handful of businesses and two kids isn’t easy, I excel at the art of multitasking and keeping everything separate. But Johnny blurs those lines. He’s easy-going, sweet-natured, and cool. In short, he’s everything I’m not. I want to know all about him…starting from the top.
The cheery sound of family fun drifted through the house…the dog barking, cupboards closing, and a girlish squeal of delight. And more dog barking.
I chuckled at the chaotic homey cacophony. I would never have envisioned this was Sean’s life. He’d always seemed like a badass boss to me—not a man who’d wear an apron to bake cupcakes with his daughter while his son had a guitar lesson. His chocolate mussed hair and concerned parental frown made him look goofy and yet very…endearing. In a hot dad way.
Okay. Definitely time to go. I reached for the knob just as Sean did.
“I’ll walk you out,” he insisted, holding the door open.
I stepped onto the porch and blinked against the bright afternoon sun at the hilltop view of the city. “Wow. This is nice.”
“Yeah,” he agreed absently. “How was he?”
“Amazing. The next Chuck Berry.”
Sean sighed grumpily. “Less sarcasm, please.”
“Sorry, Dad.” I snickered. “He was great. I mean, he sucked, but I think he had fun. I told him to keep the guitar and practice on his own. If you want me to come back, I will.”
“Really? That’s good.” He stared at the horizon for a moment before glancing my way. “I wanted to—why are you smiling at me?”
“You’re fuckin’ covered in chocolate. It’s in your ear.” I made a face and tugged at my own ear.
He gestured at the apron. “Baking isn’t my thing.”
I flashed a megawatt grin at him. “Sure, it is. Are you decorating those cupcakes with anything besides frosting?”
“Sprinkles. You’re welcome to join us.”
“Thanks, but I don’t want to crash your family time.”
Sean inclined his head. “So…did he talk to you?”
“It took a little coaxing. Full disclosure…we played video games before we picked up the guitars. You’re not paying me, so I don’t really feel guilty. I just don’t want you to think it was a jam session from the start.”
“You know?” I repeated.
“I snuck in to see how you were doing. Hulk let you down. You might want to go with Iron Man or Captain America next time.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” I snort-laughed, then sobered. “As for Parker…he’s a good kid. He’s shy, reserved, and likes organization. He seems like the kind of person who excels at things he can control. I bet he builds killer Lego sets. He might learn a few songs, but I doubt he’s a savant. You never know, though. Kids are sponges. They pick up stuff you and I would never catch.”
“That’s true. I’m impressed. And you’re right…about everything. He keeps a lot inside. He’s always been that way. Very thoughtful and methodical. He sets a high bar for himself. He likes to get things right the first time. He does well in school, but he’s struggling with the transition to junior high. His old friends tried out for sports and he opted not to. It’s left him feeling ostracized and alone. Hormones don’t help. I thought it might be good for him to spend time with someone cool who—”
“Cooler than you?”
“Well, let’s not get crazy.” Sean flipped the corner of his apron and let out a self-deprecating laugh. “I just…thanks for doing this. I appreciate it.”
“No problem. Hey, if he really is interested, we can do this regularly. My schedule is light for the next couple of months, but it’ll get crazy again in late spring.”
“I’ll call you.”
“Text me. I hate phone calls.” I held out my right hand and snatched it away a second later, narrowing my gaze. “You have frosting on your nose.”
“My nose?” He wiped his hand over the apron, then across the tip of his nose. “Did I get it?”
“No. Come here. Let me help you.” I stepped into his space and brushed the sugary goodness away.
“Did you get it?” he asked in a huskier than normal tone.
“Yeah, but it’s on your ear and your chin and…”
I ran the pad of my thumb under this bottom lip. “Got it.”
I didn’t move. I should have, but something held me in place. I studied his features, noting the flecks in his eyes. I wondered what color they were…gold, green, brown? I traced a line at the corner of his mouth, rubbing the scruff of his neatly-trimmed beard. I stared at his full lips for a long moment before meeting his gaze. Then I inched closer and…kissed him.
Purchase at Amazon
Starting from the Top is the fifth book in the Starting From series by the talented Lane Hayes. I have read so many books by Lane and every one becomes my new favorite. Her writing just keeps getting better and better. I’m seriously in love in love with Johnny and Sean. Johnny is young, fun, talented, but he had a hard childhood and he doesn’t see himself as famous. Sean is older, has kids and needs to have control over everything in his life or he’s afraid it’s all going to fall apart. What starts out as a fun thing that’s just physical, turns into something more meaningful. They become friends. Johnny spends time with Sean and his kids. They talk about themselves, their lives. What they want. But what happens when feelings change? When it’s more than just fun? Oh my! I couldn’t get enough of this story! I loved how Johnny saw the world and that he learned and grew just from being with Sean. I loved how Sean lightened up and relaxed more and actually let Johnny in. And Parker and Penny, they were so funny and real! This is the perfect age-gap, rock star, family fun book!
Meet the Author
Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards.
She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.
Get the Entire Series Here!