Along Came Trouble: A Loveswept Contemporary Romance

Along Came Trouble - Ruthie Knox 3 1/2 stars. Three years after kicking her alcoholic philanderer husband to the curb, Ellen feels like life with her young son in their quiet town is finally the way she wants it. But a media frenzy involving her pop star brother Jamie and her closest neighbor Carly has invaded her space -- and she's not happy when it gets invaded again by security specialist Caleb Clark, who wants to ruin her peaceful life with fences and lighting and new locks. Caleb has several big advantage over the slimy photographers and reporters though -- he's thoughtful, capable, and gorgeous. And that starts making Ellen think that maybe something is missing in her life after all. I tend to find "no-string affair" plots kind of bogus, but Ellen's reasoning here is compelling: now she wanted the sex… She didn't want to swap secrets in the afterglow, or to hear about his life before he'd met her or his plans for the future. She didn't have the energy for that shit anymore. She was already her son's loving mother, her brother's devoted sister, her clients' fearless champion. And now, it seemed, she was Richard's long-suffering ex again, too. Playing all those parts exhausted her. The last thing she needed was to be the wind beneath another man's wings.Nope. "Lover" she could handle, but nothing heavier than that. Another ounce of weight, and she would buckle.Bu Caleb is not the no-strings player Ellen thinks he is and wants more. And he's a born problem solver, so he sets out to get as much as he can, in a very funny negotiation session. (Caleb is the first speaker):"You have to give me a chance here. How about you let me ask you personal questions, but you only have to answer two out of three?""That's ridiculous. I'm not a game show.""One per orgasm.""Yours or mine?""I was thinking yours.""You think I'm going to have more than one orgasm a day, on average?"What a heady notion. Three climax-free years followed by a veritable monsoon season."You've had three since I showed up with the pizza."Fair point.Ellen being a lawyer, every possible detail come into the discussion:"We're not going to call it 'making love.'"He sighed. "You're going to make a thing out of that?""Yes.""All right. What do you want to call it, 'nookie'?"She laughed. Even when she was exhausted, wrung out from lack of sleep and a stressful day, from hot sex and waging war, Caleb could make her laugh. She liked him. He was a good guy. A sexy, funny, smart, solid guy. Also, a piranha."I was thinking 'boffing.'"He rose onto his hands and knees and started crawling towards her. '"Yeah, because that's sexy. C'mere baby, I wanna boff you."She giggled. "How about, 'Let's make whoopie'?""Sounds like you want to bake a cake." He straddled her thighs and kneeled above her. "I want to play hide the bone." In a note at the end of [b:How to Misbehave|17162570|How to Misbehave (Camelot #1)|Ruthie Knox||22005525], Knox wrote that the original conception for this book was a famous singer visits his sister and falls in love with her neighbor -- but then the sister's story took over and became the primary plotline. At first I was kind of sorry it played out that way. As it stands, Along Came Trouble opens in the middle of Jamie and Carly's intriguing story, and I was really frustrated by the waste of good angst. But then both of them started to seem like royal pains in the ass, so it's probably just as well they were secondary.Ellen and Caleb's story grew on me, but I ended the book feeling I hadn't seen enough of what Ellen did for Caleb, to cause such strong feelings in him. His good guy, let's-get-it-done appeal is obvious, and Ellen's journey is mainly about being able to accept what he offers, and to realize that it's okay both to lean on someone and to let them lean on you. But she's a difficult woman to love, and what she gave him is less clear to me. Overall I liked this, but thought it had less emotional resonance or oomph than I usually get from Knox. (reviewed from e-arc provided by netgalley)