Saturday, 8 June 2013

Along Came Trouble by Ruthie Knox

Along Came Trouble (2013)
Ruthie Knox
Grade: A-
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: NetGalley
Camelot: (1) How to Misbehave, (2) Along Came Trouble, (3) Flirting with Disaster, (4) Making it Last

Ellen Callahan might love her brother to pieces, but the reporters camped out on her driveway and sneaking up to her house from the back woods, are too much to bear for the entertainment-lawyer sister of a world-famous pop star. She has a young son to think of and doesn’t care for the fact that the reporters are making her their subject, second-best for when they can’t get shots of Carly, Ellen’s neighbour. At 7 months pregnant and the recent ex-girlfriend of Jamie Callahan, Carly is hot news, especially since Jamie’s not the father. Jamie might be powerless while he’s in LA, but he’s bringing in reinforcements.

Caleb Clark needs this job. Camelot Security, the firm he set up after returning from 15 years in the army, needs this job. He has men to pay, a house to maintain and parents to look after, who are too stubborn to ask their only son to help out with their own floundering business. Then there’s his little sister Katie, who has returned after a decade in Alaska, refusing to talk about what happened and has now become Caleb’s roommate and secretary. Caleb doesn’t need another problem on his plate, like a woman who he’s promised to protect, refusing his services.

The first time Caleb meets Ellen, she’s just committed assault-by-beverage, but her victim just continues snapping away. She might not need a Knight in shining armour, but she’s got one and he’s not leaving. Ellen has a lot of baggage. Her first husband was, in her own words, an ‘adulterous alcoholic poet’ who bullied and humiliated her throughout their three years of marriage and she’s adamant that there won’t be any floodlights, fence or security system – even if Caleb’s right.

Caleb briefly entertains some noble notions about it being unethical for him to make a move on his client, and the internal war waging inside him is very sweet. Ellen’s experiences with Richard may have warned her off men, especially big, domineering ones like Caleb who are used to getting their own way, but that doesn’t mean that she’s not attracted. Once she makes it her mission to seduce him, there’s no stopping her. They might both have too many things going on in their lives to maintain this casual, not-a-relationship they’ve begun, but sometimes, when trouble comes along, there’s just no stopping its consequences …

There’s something so natural about Ms Knox’s writing style that I would hate her if I didn’t love her so much. I can’t explain it (not that I ever can) but it’s just the sort of thing you notice when you read a lot. What I can tell you is that it makes for very smooth reading, which only makes the entire experience even better. There’s something to be said for a well-written and well-edited book and Ms Knox hits every note.

I liked that this flipped the heroine-hero dynamic of Ride With Me. Here, our heroine has sworn off relationships, and our hero who wasn’t looking for one, has managed to tumble head-over-heels and isn’t afraid to embrace it. It’s always an interesting one when the guy falls in love first and Ms Knox played it well. Caleb realises straight off that Ellen has problems with the way that he tackled their first meeting, and adapts accordingly. He doesn’t push, knows when to step back but also when to make his feelings clear. With patience and persistence, Ellen is going to realise that he is exactly what she needs.

Ellen’s pretty cool. For one, she’s a lawyer and that automatically puts her in my good books. And an entertainment lawyer at that, which is crazy specialist and I would love to see what kind of things such a course would cover. Secondly, she’s a fabulous role-model. Her relationship with Richard might have been a mistake, but she was stupidly in love and I figure everyone is entitled to make mistakes in life, otherwise how would we learn? Despite him, she’s managed to rebuild her life while raising a kid, and her internal monologues when she’s faced with a flashback to times that she’d rather not remember, are powerful and gut-wrenching.

A few days ago, Ms Knox posted on her Facebook page about her type of hero:
“I take an average sort of guy, and then I give him a full head of hair, a six-pack, a good job, and the ability to clean his own house. Add a dash of intense sexual prowess, the ability to string together coherent sentences about his emotions, and a fondness for giving oral, throw in some kind of deep and abiding emotional wound, and voila! We have a romance hero!”
Not only did this make me crack up when I read it, but boy does her formula work. On their own, none of those characteristics are particularly unique or award-worthy, yet combined, you’ve got yourself the ideal book-boyfriend. In addition, Caleb’s relationship with his family and the unsecure future of his business add a dash of vulnerability to his otherwise solid presence. Now if only we could find more guys like this on every street corner!

There was no way that I wasn’t going to love Henry, especially considering that his name is Henry (see my review of Nicola Cornick’s Forbidden to find out why). Henry is younger than most kids I’ve come across in romance novels, but it’s not a problem considering just how damn cute he is. It’s just much too easy to fall in love with a two-year-old who has a habitual pronoun confusion!

I’m a huge fan of secondary romances, and Carly and Jamie’s was fantastic. They both begin the book too stubborn to admit their love for the other to themselves, let alone anyone else and it makes for a funny read. As with Caleb, Jamie is the one who embraces his feelings first, and his way of trying to win Carly around is original, entertaining, draws much public and media attention but most importantly, wins my heart too.

I’ll admit that I did prefer Ride With Me, but Ruthie Knox is just so damn good that I’m not upset about it. What I love about Along Came Trouble is that it has introduced me to the Camelot series. If I hadn’t loved Ruthie Knox already, I would have loved her now, because any association with Arthurian legend can only be a win-win situation in my eyes. There aren’t words for how much I’m looking forward to Flirting with Disaster, Katie’s book and the next in the series. I can’t get my hands on it soon enough.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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