About a month ago, I picked up and read About Last Night in one sitting. Then I read it again the next day. Then I thought about it for a few days. I’ll be honest, a lot of the time when I read a romance novel, I am striving not to think, but I get such a kick out of the books that force me out of my mental somnolence and into an engagement with what I’ve read. About Last Night was such a book, and it launched Ruthie Knox onto a rather high spot on my “Authors Whose Books I’ll Anticipate and Automatically Buy” list. When I saw on NetGalley that Knox had another novel coming out soon, I jumped on a chance to read and review it (and then purchased the novella that introduces the series).
Do not judge this book by its cover. I know you want to… dont’ do it! The blurb, courtesy of Goodreads
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?
I’m just going to come right out with the bottom line: this book is fabulous. It takes the well-worn Hero as Protector trope and adds depth and substance by giving Caleb a few genuine insecurities to go along with his protective impulses. Caleb worries about his father and mother; he worries that his mother doesn’t respect him as an adult; he feels guilt over leaving his family behind while pursuing a career in the military, and he worries that he won’t be able to fix all the problems that his family collected while he was gone. Once he’s connected with Ellen, he worries that he won’t be able to adequately protect her while also giving her the space she needs. The poor man worries a lot, significantly more than the brutish alphas one is accustomed to seeing grunting and flexing their way through their more traditional romances.
Ellen is also a bit of a twist on the traditional heroine. After emerging, pregnant, from an awful marriage that left her belittled and diminished, she is extremely reticent to rely on anyone (especially another man) for anything. She fears returning to weakness and complacency. Ellen’s journey from forced independence to healthy interdependence is lovely to see.
This book also features a fun subplot involving Ellen’s brother and her next door neighbor (and her neighbor’s grandmother, who is probably my favorite character in the book). While I’m often a bit leery of subplots (sometimes you wonder why you’re spending so much time hearing about stuff that has nothing to do with the main story, you know?!), it totally worked in this book. I don’t know why (so I feel a bit dumb even bringing up the subplot thing, but whatever), but maybe it’s because the subplot really was necessary to throw Caleb and Ellen together and because Jamie (Ellen’s brother) is an excellent foil for Caleb.
My favorite bit in the book is Ellen’s epiphany after the big conflict. I mentioned in the opening paragraph how much I enjoy being stunned out of somnolence by bits of writing that make me think. Ellen’s epiphany was one of those moments (and the resolution scene following it made me smile and cheer).
If you’re going to read this book (and you totally should), you also might want to check out How to Misbehave a prelude novella introducing the setting and some of the characters in this series, set in an idyllic Ohio town called Camelot. Along Came Trouble is totally a stand-alone book, and you don’t need to read the novella in order to follow the plot, but you should read it anyway because it’s wonderful. Just saying. (For more information about the novella, click on the cover image to visit the book’s page on Goodreads.)
Along Came Trouble was released on March 11, 2013 as an e-book by Loveswept, a division of Random House. If you’re interested in finding out more about the book, click on the cover image above to visit the book’s page on Goodreads. For more information about Ruthie Knox, visit her website.
*FTC Disclosure – I received an e-galley of this book from Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*