I’ve been gushing about Ms. Knox’s books for the past year, and as I keep saying, I think she has one of the best and freshest voices in Contemporary Romance. But all good things must come to an end (or in this case, a small bump in the road) so today’s review won’t be a gushing one.
Along Came Trouble is the first full-length book in the new Camelot series (there’s a prequel novella, but each story stands alone well). Ellen is a single mother whose only wish is peace and tranquility. But when her famous, Justin Timberlake-ish brother has an affair with her pregnant next-door neighbor, the paparazzi invade her street and put an end to her peace and tranquility. That’s when her brother hires Caleb Clark’s security firm to provide protection to Ellen and the neighbor. Needless to say, Ellen disapproves.
Caleb really, really cares that Ellen doesn’t want him there, because 1. He needs the job to provide the financial stability his new security firm needs and 2. He’s very attracted to Ellen. As you can probably guess, these two are bound to butt heads and to fall in love.
Ellen’s marriage left her some baggage, and she deals with it by constantly reassuring herself of her independence. She doesn’t want to rely on anyone and because of that, she comes across as prickly. This is the part where I tell you how much I hate describing a heroine as prickly, mostly because anything that doesn’t resemble a nice damsel in distress becomes a negative trait. But yes, prickly and somewhat reactionary are good ways to describe her. These are qualities I understand and appreciate, but don’t expect a cuddly, sweet heroine, because you won’t get one here.
Caleb, on the other hand, is as sweet and cuddly as it gets (while being manly and hunky, because of course). It becomes obvious from the start that Ellen is the one who holds all the power in their relationship: he’s the one who falls in love first; the one convinced that they stand a chance and in charge of convincing Ellen of it; and the one in danger of having his heart broken. Not only that, but his professional future also depends on Ellen. So poor Caleb is at the mercy of a woman terrified of commitment and hell-bent on proving to herself that she is self-sufficient. He is, perhaps, one of the most emotionally vulnerable heroes I’ve read this year.
But as much as I liked Ellen and Caleb as individuals, I never quite got them as a couple. The red-hot chemistry present in all of Ms. Knox’s books was completely missing in this story, which is a shame, because chemistry would have helped made the insta-love a bit more palatable. As it was, I found it hard to believe that two mature and cautious characters would fall so hard and so fast when it’s obvious that they lack the necessary recklessness needed to make such a leap. The pace and setting weren’t ideal for a romance between these two.
There are also many secondary characters that distract from the main storyline instead of adding to it. I wasn’t particularly curious or invested in the secondary romance, and I found the sequel-bait character so compelling that at times I wished I was reading her book instead. All the characters were interesting and developed, but they were too intrusive. And one of them does a big gesture that was just plain ridiculous and embarrassing.
Along Came Trouble was a bit of a mixed bag. It’s better than many small-town Contemporary series, but let’s face it, in this particular case, being above average doesn’t take much of an effort. Hopefully the bumpy ride ends here and the next book in the series will be up to par with what Ms. Knox has us used to.
Review by Brie
Ruthie Knox’s Camelot series continues in this sizzling eBook original novel, featuring two headstrong souls who bump heads—and bodies—as temptation and lust bring nothing but delicious trouble.Along Came Trouble: A Loveswept Contemporary Romance by Ruthie Knox
An accomplished lawyer and driven single mother, Ellen Callahan isn’t looking for any help. She’s doing just fine on her own. So Ellen’s more than a little peeved when her brother, an international pop star, hires a security guard to protect her from a prying press that will stop at nothing to dig up dirt on him. But when the tanned and toned Caleb Clark shows up at her door, Ellen might just have to plead the fifth.
Back home after a deployment in Iraq and looking for work as a civilian, Caleb signs on as Ellen’s bodyguard. After combat in the hot desert sun, this job should be a breeze. But guarding the willful beauty is harder than he imagined—and Caleb can’t resist the temptation to mix business with pleasure. With their desires growing more undeniable by the day, Ellen and Caleb give in to an evening of steamy passion. But will they ever be able to share more than just a one-night stand?
Loveswept. March 11, 2013