Friday, September 27, 2019

Review & Giveaway: Say It Again by Catherine Bybee

Publication Date: September 24th 2019 by Montlake Romance
Pages: 343 
Source: Publisher
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

About the book:

In the final First Wives novel by New York Times bestselling author Catherine Bybee, falling in love could become the most dangerous dare of one woman’s life.

Protector-for-hire Sasha Budanov is accustomed to life as a loner. Always on the move, she’s now reached a crossroad. Looking for answers about her shadowy youth, she’s returned to the strict boarding school in Germany where she was raised. It’s also where she was trained in the stealthy, militarized art of survival. But behind its gleaming gates, Richter is a fortress of secrets, including those buried in Sasha’s mysterious past. To uncover them, she’s clinging to her first rule of defense: stay guarded.

If anyone can challenge Sasha’s rules, it’s devilishly sexy stranger AJ Hofmann. He wants answers, too. And he needs Sasha’s help. The recent deaths of several of Richter’s former students—including AJ’s own sister—have aroused his suspicions. He’s arousing something more in Sasha. Never one to surrender to her emotions, she senses something tempting in AJ. She trusts him. He’s fearless. And he kisses like a demon. Sasha’s found her match.

But treading Richter’s dark halls—and following their hearts—has its risks. As the decades-old secrets of the past are mined, Sasha and AJ are falling deeper in love…and into danger.
My Thoughts:
Sasha is at a crossroads in her life after fulfilling a long-time mission and having nothing on her agenda she’s not sure what’s next.  Ritcher is the military type boarding school that molded her into the woman she is today and so she decides to visit her old school and ends up with a mystery to solve in the process.

Enter AJ. His sister, a previous student of Richter, has been murdered and AJ is determined to find her killer.  AJ wasn’t super close to his sister, so he decides to trace her past and find out if it had anything to do with her murder. He hits a roadblock with Richter, they’re secretive sending up all kinds of red flags for AJ, so he hits up Sasha for help.

While the previous books in the First Wives series have been more contemporary romance with a bit of romantic suspense, Say it Again is more of an action/romantic suspense story. Sasha (as the interview below points out) is kind of like a female James Bond. She’s been a savior and protector of the heroines in the past stories, so I’m happy to get the story behind this badass woman!  As an orphan in foster homes and then as a student in Richter, Sasha is used to being on her own without anyone having her back, so it’s a new experience to have AJ, Reed, Trina, and the gang at her back providing not only support and protection, but a place where she fits in as family.

The romance between AJ and Sasha was fitted in between solving AJ’s sister’s murder, and evading danger, but whenever they had a minute it was electric and passionate!  Even with the intense attraction between them, Sasha and AJ didn’t just jump into a relationship, there was a lot going on and each were focused on finding Amelia’s killer as well as what is really going on at Richter. They got to know each other bit by bit under tense circumstances, forming a bond with an attraction that eventually couldn’t be ignored. The slow progression from attraction to more, felt right for the story.

I really enjoyed Say it Again with the extra amount of danger, action, and thrills thrown into the mix! Never a dull moment with this fast-paced story, and I’m pleased with how it all turned out! There’s potential for more action/thriller/romance books with a few of the characters introduced here. Maybe Claire or Olivia? I guess we’ll see if Ms. Bybee decides to continue their stories. I look forward to whatever she decides to write in the future. 
 4 Suns

Q & A with Catherine Bybee:

1) Sasha, from your newest novel Say it Again, is unlike any character that most readers will have encountered. Can you give us a rundown of your heroine?

Sasha is a female James Bond with all the skills that kick ass and the sexy that opens doors. She’s a master of disguises, speaks more languages than anyone should…and has a razor-sharp mind that doesn’t sleep. In all her badassery, (pretty sure I just made up that word) Sasha has a soft spot—a vulnerability that makes her want to protect the innocent. She’s a true to life superhero who walks the fence between right and wrong. She really doesn’t have any issues breaking laws to get what she wants. And that’s what makes her so fun to read, and for me to write.

2) Fans have been following Sasha throughout your First Wives series. Did you always know you wanted to write her story?

No! Not at all. The first four books in the series were going to be it. However, Sasha commanded attention the first moment she walked on the page and I couldn’t get enough of her once I dreamed her up. I was almost finished writing the first book when I decided that Sasha was not going to be a bad guy. Yes, I’m a pantser, and have no real outline before I sit down to write. I think the fact that I didn’t know she was one of the good guys made her all that more believable. I don’t even think she knew she was going to be on the side of right and justice until the end of Fool Me Once.

3) While many of your novels have a mystery or suspense element, you dive head first into action and spy-games in this book. How easy was this transition for you?

It was super easy and tons of fun. In fact… I think I may have a spin off of a spin off rolling in my head with all the fun characters I played with while writing this book. Neil was one of my very first book boyfriends from the Weekday Brides. And having him come back in this book just reminded me how much fun it is to write all the action and intrigue. I hope my fans love it enough for me to continue the theme with new books.

4) When AJ is first introduced he seems pretty average—just a guy looking for answers about his sister’s death. But in reality, there is nothing average about AJ. How would you describe him? 

The best picture in my mine that I can describe with all clarity is Brian O’Connor, Paul Walker (RIP), from Fast and Furious. Innocent until he isn’t.

I would say that AJ is exactly what Sasha needed to open up and accept that she too can be loved. I wanted AJ to come off as average until he wasn’t. Sasha is such a strong character that she needed someone who wasn’t going to try and overpower or overshadow her badassery (love that word). AJ does that. Yet he has some badass moments himself and that is what makes her fall for him even more. He is in no way perfect and neither is she.

5) AJ and Sasha have something in common—they are both characters with lots and lots of secrets. What makes them open up to each other? What else do they have in common?

Trust through time. That’s the best way for me to describe how they evolved in my head. There is a common respect the moment they “acquire” the other’s phone. A moment where they take notice and begin to respect the other. Honor among thieves as they say. I think the common ground that isn’t apparent until the story evolves is how they want the love of a family. AJ is much more open to it than Sasha, but they both have to fight for it in the end.

6) While you have written books with scenes in foreign countries, this story takes place internationally. Have you visited the same places as your characters? Where do you hope to take readers around the world in the future?

Yes, I have been to all the places I have written about. I was in Berlin a couple of years ago at a book signing and managed to get their by taking the train from London, through Amsterdam etc. So yes, I’m blessed to have visited these places which makes the story that much richer in my opinion. Richter, the school in the story, is from my imagination. I did some fact checking and learned that post Hitler’s Germany, military boarding schools were not welcome in the country. So I made one up and made it as great and awful as I could while still making it believable.

I have placed most of my travels, or experiences from them, in my books. And as I travel the world, I will bring my readers along…eventually.

7) Say it Again wraps up your First Wives series. What have you learned while writing these books? Will these lessons affect your writing in the future?

On a personal level, I will say that I’ve leaned to write with a great deal of personal turmoil. There have been times I’ve doubted my process and this final book in the series has told me to never do that again. I would like to always keep the door open for more books because of characters like Sasha. I love writing fast moving romantic suspense and intrigue and can see Claire, Cooper and the whole of Neil’s team as a great setting for future books. Yeah… I’m liking that idea more and more. I hope my readers do, too. 

Author Biography:
New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written thirty books that collectively have sold more than five million copies and 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. For more information, visit

Connect with Catherine Bybee:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

The publisher has generously provided a copy of Say it Again along with a $25 Amazon Giftcard. Simply fill out the rafflecopter for a change to win!

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  1. What an interesting twist with the woman being the bodyguard/protector type and the man needing her help. Love it! I like the way it sounds so fast-paced with plenty of action.

  2. Great interview! I've read some of this author's romance books and really liked them. Love that she branched out a bit into a mystery/thriller/romance blend as well. This looks like it would be a really good fall read.

  3. Oh man you had me sold at female James Bond... this sounds so good! Great review!

  4. Sasha deserved a fantastic romance, and I am glad Bybee gave it to her. She was a great character, and it's fantastic that she let this side character have her own story.

  5. I have not read this author before but I know you love her work. Sasha sounds like a fantastic character. I will have to keep this series in mind.

  6. This sounds fun, love the sound of Sasha and how badass she sounds haha- and the romance between AJ and her sounds like it works too!