Family secrets and fresh romance collide in this heart-pounding Richter series installment by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee.
Jacqueline “Jax” Simon knows how to expose secrets: she’s a skilled operative with MacBain Security and Solutions. When Jax hears her parents are divorcing, she races to London to find out why. She’s determined to learn the truth, especially when her investigation uncovers why her parents sent her to Richter, the German military school that made her a fighter.
Andrew Craig collects Jax at Heathrow Airport as a favor. He’s heard she’s a handful, but he didn’t know she’s dangerously gorgeous too. His instant attraction could change his life…or end it.
Jax doesn’t want to fall for Andrew, but soon he’s worming his way into her life. Together, they infiltrate Richter to discover if it has returned to its covert purpose: training children to be spies and assassins and blackmailing parents to look the other way. As the attraction between the two intensifies, so do the secrets exploding all around them. How deadly are those secrets—and who will survive?
Publication Date: November 30th, 2021
Series: Richter (#3)
Previous books in the series: Changing Rules, A Thin Disguise.
An Unexpected Distraction is the third book in Catherine Bybee’s addictive series that deals with former alumni of a super secretive military boarding school called Richter. The first book Changing Rules focused on Claire Kelly who was sent on an undercover mission to bust a child trafficking ring. I absolutely adored her best friend Jax Simon and couldn’t wait to read her story in An Unexpected Distraction.
All books in this fast-paced, gripping series can be read as standalones- a new reader gets enough background to understand how the protagonists are related to Richter, which for many years trained future spies, secret agents for various governments and private companies, and …assassins. We met one of them- Olivia Nought- in the second book A Thin Disguise. Claire and Jax were among the more fortunate ones- they were given a chance to be on the right side and good by working for Neil McBain’s Security and Solutions team. Neil was also the man behind exposing what was going on in Richter and sending the former headmistress Lodovica to prison. But the legacy of Richter still lives on and not all secrets have been revealed.
The book starts with Neil’s employees doing a teambuilding exercise- practising a scenario when one of them gets kidnapped. You get a good feeling of how how-close knit the team is and how much they trust each other. Then Jax gets a call from her brother Harry who is asking her to come to London and help him out with a family emergency.Things do not seem to add up and Jax’s professional skills are being called upon. All through this Jax is dealing with an unexpected distraction- her brother’s friend Andrew is gradually becoming more and more important to her and suddenly going back to her life in Californis doesn’t seem as appealing as it used to. As Neil reminds her, in Jax’s line of work distractions can be fatal, especially, since the case isn’t just about her own family, it has an unexpected connection to Richter.
I have to admit the first part of the book was unusually slow for what I’ve come to expect from Catherine Bybee. But then the pace picked up considerably in the second half and suddenly I was on the edge of my seat, gripped by the action-packed, thrilling finale.
The genre of romantic suspense calls for a fine balance of romance and mystery and Catherine Bybee is one of the best. Jax is a strong, independent woman, comfortable with her life choices, but even she has to deal with her own doubts and insecurities- do her family care for her and are just too reserved to show it? what is going to happen to her friendship with Claire now that Claire is getting married? Moving to California for work was a no-brainer for her given how much she loves her job and sunny weather, but does it mean there’s nothing tying her back to England? The book is written from Jax’s POV, so we do get to know Andrew only the way Jax sees him. Sometimes it felt as if there was only one protagonist and Andrew was just one of the secondary characters. Having said that, there are some very sweet and romantic moments interwoven with the mystery and its thrill.
While every book in the series is complete on its own, it’s clear there is more to the Richter story as the ending proves and I can’t wait to read the next instalment!
Thank you to NetGalley and Montlake for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.