"One look and she knew he is going to be trouble"
Reviewed by Annetta Sweetko
Posted December 29, 2012
ALONG CAME TROUBLE is set in the fictional little town of
Camelot in Ohio. Where everyone knows everyone and things
are safe and quiet. At least they once were.
Caleb Clark has a job to do and no one is going to stop him
from protecting two women from the paparazzi that are
hounding them. The one woman is Carly, the woman who was
photographed with singing star Jamie Callahan, and
Callahan's sister Ellen who happens to also be Carly's
Ellen Callahan has finally gotten her life together. She
had been pushed aside while their mother catered to Jamie's
talent and career, and her ex-husband had been an
alcoholic, womanizer that she allowed to be too
controlling. He wouldn't even stop calling her Els even
though she had told him a million times she hated it. Now
standing in front of her is someone else who wanted to take
control of her life... her home ... and she wasn't going to put
up with it. Though the more she sees of the macho, handsome
devil, who is hired by her brothers security people, the
more attracted she is. But there is no way she is going
to lose the hard won independence she has made for herself
and her son Henry.
All he's asking is for Ellen to allow him to put up motion
lights, get some better locks on her doors and windows and
let him put up a temporary fence. He isn't asking her to
spend her life with him or anything ... but the more time he
spends with the sexy infuriating woman the more that idea
has merit. It doesn't take long for him to want forever but
getting Ellen to believe in forever again and not just a
few nights of the hottest sex he has ever had is not going
to be easy.
Making his plans harder are his parents and their apartment
complex, a sister who finally admits what her troubles are,
and Ellen's idiot ex. The real clinker is when the singer
finally realizes how much he loves Carly and returns to do
whatever it takes to win her back and in the process
bringing back a bigger influx of paparazzi.
ALONG CAME TROUBLE is a different kind of contemporary
romance. Author Ruthie Knox gives her characters realism
with flaws and the normal ebb and flow of life while still
burning the pages with steamy sex. Readers will laugh at
the antics of little Henry and Carly's Nana and listen to
the good advice of Caleb's father and feel as if these are
people they already know. I can't wait to get my hands on
more from this author.
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.
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
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?
"Get out of my yard!" Ellen shouted.
The weasel–faced photographer ignored her, too
busy snapping photos of the house next door to pay her any
No surprise there. This was the fifth time in as many
days that a man with a camera had violated her property
lines. By now, she knew the drill.
They trespassed. She yelled. They pretended she didn't
exist. She called the police.
Ellen was thoroughly sick of it. She couldn't carry on
this way, watching from the safety of the side porch and
clutching her glass of iced tea like an outraged southern
It was all very well for Jamie to tell her to stay put
and let the professionals deal with it. Her pop–star
brother was safe at home in California, nursing his wounds.
And anyway, this kind of attention was the lot he'd chosen
in life. He'd decided to be a celebrity, and then he'd made
the choice to get involved with Ellen's neighbor, Carly.
The consequences ought to be his to deal with.
Ellen hadn't invited the paparazzi to descend. She'd
made different choices, and they'd led her to college, law
school, marriage, divorce, and motherhood. They'd led her
to this quiet cul–de–sac in Camelot, Ohio,
surrounded by woods.
Her choices had also made her the kind of woman who
couldn't easily stand by as some skeevy guy crushed her
plants and invaded Carly's privacy for the umpteenth time
since last Friday.
Enough, she thought. Enough.
But until Weasel Face crushed the life out of her
favorite hosta—her mascot hosta—with his giant
brown boot, she didn't actually intend to act on the
Raised in Chicago, Ellen had grown up ignorant of
perennials. When she first moved to Camelot, a new wife in
a strange land, she did her best to adapt to the local ways
of lawn–mowing and shade–garden cultivation,
but during the three years her marriage lasted, she'd
killed every plant she put in the ground.
It was only after her divorce that things started to
grow. In the winter after she kicked Richard out for being
a philandering dickhead, their son had sprouted from a
pea–sized nothing to a solid presence inside her
womb, breathing and alive. That spring, the first furled
shoots of the hosta poked through the mulch, proving that
Ellen was not incompetent, as Richard had so often implied.
She and the baby were, in fact, perfectly capable of
surviving, even thriving, without anyone's help.
Two more springs had come and gone, and the hosta kept
returning, bigger every year. It became her horticultural
buddy. Triumph in plant form.
So Ellen took it personally when Weasel Face stepped on
it. Possibly a bit too personally. Swept up in a delicious
tide of righteousness, she crossed the lawn and upended her
glass of iced tea over the back of his head.
It felt good. It felt great, actually—the
coiled–spring snap of temper, the clean confidence
that came with striking a blow for justice. For the few
seconds it lasted, she basked in it. It was such an
improvement over standing around.
One more confirmation that powerlessness was for suckers.
But then it was over, and she wondered why she'd wasted
the tea, because Weasel Face didn't so much as flinch.
Seemingly unbothered by the dunking, the ice cubes, or the
sludgy sugar on the back of his neck, he aimed his camera
at Carly's house and held down the shutter release,
capturing photo after photo as an SUV rolled to a stop in
the neighboring driveway.
"Get out of my yard," Ellen insisted, shoving the man's
shoulder for emphasis. His only response was to reach up,
adjust his lens, and carry on.
Now what? Assault–by–beverage was unfamiliar
territory for her. Usually, she stuck with verbal attack.
Always, the people she engaged in battle acknowledged her
presence on the field. How infuriating to be ignored by the
"The police are on their way."
This was a lie, but so what? The man had already been
kicked off her property once this week. He didn't deserve
scrupulous honesty. He didn't even deserve the tea.
"I'll leave when they make me," he said.
"I'm going to press charges this time."
The photographer squinted into his viewfinder. "Go
ahead. I'll have these pictures sold before the cops get
"I'm not kidding," she threatened. "I'll use every
single sneaky lawyer trick I can think of to drag out the
process. You'll rot in that jail cell for days before I'm
done with you."
And now she sounded like a street–corner nut job.
Not the kind of behavior she approved of, but what was she
supposed to do? It was already too late to give up. If she
stopped pushing, he would win. Unacceptable.
A tall man stepped out of the SUV. One of her cedar
trees partially blocked the view, but she caught a glimpse
of mirrored sunglasses and broad shoulders.
"You're going to be so sorry you didn't listen to me."
Weasel Face didn't even look at her. "Go away, lady."
"I live here!" She hooked her fingers in his elbow and
yanked, screwing up his aim.
The stranger at Carly's must have heard the escalating
argument, because he turned to face them. Ellen's uninvited
guest made an ugly, excited noise low in his throat, edged
forward, and smashed a lungwort plant that had been doing
really well this year.
Ellen considered kicking him in the shin, but she hadn't
remembered to put shoes on before she rushed out of the
house. She settled for a juvenile trick, walking around
behind him and sinking her kneecaps into the back of his
legs. His knees buckled, and he lost his balance and
staggered forward a few paces, destroying a
bleeding–heart bush. Then he shot her an evil glare
and went right back to taking pictures.
"Leave," she insisted.
"No." He snapped frame after frame of the stranger as he
sauntered toward them and Ellen fumed with anger,
frustration, embarrassment, disappointment, fear—all
of it swirling around in her chest, making her heart hammer
and her stomach clench.
By the time the SUV driver reached her property line,
she recognized him. In a village as small as Camelot, you
got to know who everybody was eventually. This guy hadn't
been around long, maybe a few months. She'd seen him at the
deli at lunchtime, always dressed for the office. Today, he
wore a white dress shirt with charcoal slacks, and he
looked crisp despite the damp July heat.
One time, she'd been chasing after Henry at the Village
Market, and she'd turned a corner and almost walked right
into this man. They'd done a shuffling sort of dance,
trying to evade one another, and for a few seconds, she
hadn't had a single thought in her head except Whoa.
Big guy. Very whoa, if you went for that kind of thing.
The two invaders assessed each other for a few beats
before whoa took off his sunglasses and tucked them into
his pocket. He stepped around the obstructive cedar tree
and extended his hand to Ellen. "Hi. Caleb Clark."
She shifted her empty glass from one palm to the other,
gripping the slippery surface too tight because an eddy of
uninvited relief had turned her arm muscles into limp,
noodly things. "Ellen Callahan."
Caleb's hand was big and warm, a work–roughened
paw that went with the low voice and the hard body. He
could be anybody, here for any reason, but a zingy little
pulse low in her belly declared that the cavalry had
arrived, and the cavalry was really something. It annoyed
her—one more primitive, irrational feeling to cope
with on top of all the others.
Caleb pumped her arm up and down once, a strangely
formal ritual. He didn't let go of her hand. A mischievous
smile crept over his lips. "You're a scary woman, Ellen
Callahan," he said. "If I were this lowlife piece of shit,
I'd be quaking in my boots."
"You're wearing dress shoes," she pointed out.
Caleb looked down at his wingtips. "That I am. I also
have the good sense not to step on your plants."
Weasel Face mumbled something to himself that included
the words "might as well" and "Jamie's sister," regrouped,
and raised the camera to take pictures of Ellen.
She pulled her fingers from Caleb's grip so she could
cover her face. It was hard to be menacing while cowering,
but facelessness was her best shot at spoiling the photos.
She didn't want to see herself on the news tonight wearing
this particular outfit.
"Get off her property, or I'm going to make you wish
you'd listened to her."
Caleb issued his threat casually, as if he were flicking
a speck of dust off his sleeve. When she peeked at him from
behind her hand, he wasn't even looking at Weasel Face. He
was watching her. His lips had settled into a confident
smirk that established a confederacy between the two of
them she hadn't expected.
She wanted to laugh, except . . . well, she didn't. It
felt good to be part of his team. Theirs was a temporary,
knocked–together army of two, but still, he was
driving the bad guy away, and his conspiratorial expression
gave her a giddy thrill.
Which made her wonder if she was entirely in her right
The photographer looked from Caleb to Ellen, then back
at Caleb. Outnumbered and outgunned, he
He started to move away. Caleb reached out and grabbed
his arm. "Memory card."
The photographer opened his mouth to protest. Caleb's
hand tightened. Weasel Face gave a reluctant nod, pulled
himself free, and extracted the card from his camera. Caleb
put it in his pocket.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Go to hell."
"Never mind. I saw your car on the street. I'll run the
plates. If I see you in Camelot again, I'm going to make
you sorry. And if you step on any more of Ms. Callahan's
plants on your way out, she's going to make you sorry."
A prickle of unease walked up the back of Ellen's neck.
Who was Caleb Clark, exactly? She'd assumed he was just a
friend of Carly's, but she knew most of Carly's friends
I'll run the plates. A cop? She'd never seen him in a
uniform. Unless he was a detective—they wore suits,
"Go," Caleb said, and Weasel Face went. He detoured
around another lungwort plant on his way out of the yard,
then hurried down the drive to the cul–de–sac.
Caleb had dispatched him so easily. He issued commands
like he was accustomed to being obeyed. Ex–military?
He had the body for it. Rangy and muscular, his build
fairly announced, I ran fifteen miles before you got up
this morning, and I still have energy left to bayonet the
It hardly seemed fair.
A moment later, an engine started up with a cough, and
the brown streak of the Weaselmobile appeared and
disappeared in the gap at the bottom of Carly's driveway.
He would probably be back. Even if he didn't return,
there were others. They were always out there now,
sometimes four or five cars, sometimes more. Waiting for
news to happen. Waiting for Jamie to show or Carly to come
outside in a bikini and pose for belly shots.
Ellen turned back to Caleb.
He grinned, quick and bright, and she found herself
almost smiling back when he raised his hand in the
universal invitation for a high five. The slap of his dry
palm against her clammy one snapped her to attention.
What had just happened? It wasn't like her to get so
angry or to let herself be overwhelmed. All these
amped–up emotions belonged to some other woman.
"Thank you," she said.
"Not a problem." He slid his hands into his pockets.
Something devilish in his expression made her wonder if
he'd seen her marching across the lawn with nothing but a
glass of iced tea for a weapon.
She had her shortcomings, but vanity wasn't one of them.
If she'd been able to witness herself taking on the
photographer, she'd probably be amused, too. As it was, she
felt a little loopy.
Could adrenaline explain why he was leaping into focus
this way? Or shock? Everywhere her eyes went to avoid
meeting his, they got caught on some manly detail. The
hollow of his throat above the open top button of his
shirt, say, or the breadth of his shoulders under all that
She sucked in a deep breath and got woozy with the
clean, woodsy–warm smell of him. His soap, she
guessed, and beneath all those pine needles or whatever, a
tang of sweat that was all man.
Get a hold of yourself.
Caleb Clark wasn't hard on the eyes, but he was hardly
Apollo. He had close–cropped dark brown hair, olive
skin that suggested
ancestry, and a nice straight nose with a bump in the
bridge. Whoa factor aside, he was just a guy who'd helped
her out on his way to visit Carly.
Just an ordinary guy with a dimple in one cheek and
crinkle–cornered, happy brown eyes that transformed
him into a very attractive specimen when he smiled.
A disarmingly attractive specimen. Who had disarmed her.
He seemed well aware of it.
"It's my job," he said.
So dazzled was she by the smile, it took her a few
seconds to hear him, and then a few more to figure out what
he had to mean.
It's my job to drive men like Weasel Face off the lawn.
Oh, crap. She should have known. The black SUV with
tinted windows, his body, his
self–assurance—Caleb was a bodyguard. Of course
he was. "Who do you work for?"
"I work for myself. Camelot Security. But Breckenridge
brought me in."
Breckenridge was the company Jamie used. Which meant
that Caleb wasn't a friend of Carly's at all. Her brother
had hired him. And Ellen knew Jamie well enough to guess he
wouldn't have brought in security just for Carly. Not when
he knew exactly how many times Ellen had called the police
in the past week.
Caleb was here for her.
"I don't need you."
This earned her a smile she found considerably less
charming than its predecessors. "Seemed like you did a
"I did, and I already said thanks for that. But I don't
want a bodyguard."
"I'm not a bodyguard."
"What are you, then?"
"I'm a security specialist."
"I don't need one of those, either."
Caleb raised his eyebrows and looked pointedly toward
Damn it, he didn't even need to speak to make her see
it. He was right—Ellen had no way of keeping the
invaders at bay. Dumping her tea on the photographer had
been stupid. If Weasel Face wanted to, he could have done a
lot worse to her than just step on her plants.
"Okay, fine," she admitted. "You have a point."
Caleb glanced past her to the house, his eyes jumping
from one feature to another, panning across the front lawn.
Surveying her domain. His lips kept twitching at the
corners, as if it took some effort to keep his satisfied
expression from crossing over to smug. "When was this place
built?" he asked. "Sixties?"
"It's a nice house. If you've got the plans, I'm going
to need them—architectural drawings, schematics.
That'll make it easier for the alarm installer. We'll have
to find the survey stakes at the property lines, too, or
else get a new surveyor out here."
"How attached are you to this tree?" He started walking
toward the front yard, and Ellen hurried to catch up. "It's
not supposed to be that close to the road. The county wants
a ten–foot easement along the street side of the
property to keep the electric and phone wires clear. Didn't
the guys tell you that when they planted it?"
"No." She'd dug the hole herself after she bought the
tulip tree for Henry's first birthday. It had never
occurred to her that she wasn't allowed to put it wherever
She felt as though she ought to say something about
that, but she was having trouble keeping up with him. He
walked fast, and her thoughts kept whirling around, a
tornado that flung little bits of verbal flotsam toward her
mouth, words like no and what? and stop and fuck and help.
"Sorry, I'm not sure . . . what does that have to do
"The tree's going to mess up your fence line. I can have
it moved back, though. No worries. First things first, I'm
going to do a circuit around the house. I'd like to
"Stop." He was getting away from her, his long legs
eating up the ground, and an air raid siren had started
going off inside her head. "Stop walking. Stop looking at
things. And for the love of God, stop talking."
He actually had the audacity to grin at her again, as if
they were still allies, and this was all an enjoyable game
rather than the second wave of a hostile incursion.
"There's not going to be a fence," Ellen said firmly.
"Your brother is crazy–famous, and you have a kid.
You need a fence. I can get it painted any color you want.
Or stained. Cedar would look nice with your siding." Caleb
looked at his watch. "Are you free in about an hour? I'm
supposed to be meeting with Carly, but after that I'd like
to come back by here. In the meantime, it would help me a
lot if you could pull together your itinerary for the next
few weeks. I need names and contact information for all
your friends, too—family, boyfriends, anybody who
comes over to play with your son—so I can let my team
know who it's okay to let on the property. Oh, and does
your cell phone have a radio function, by any chance?"
Ellen's fingers had begun to ache deep in the joints, so
she opened her hand to stretch them, and the iced tea glass
fell onto the lawn. She gawped at it, unable to collect her
thoughts over the ringing in her ears.
Trouble. This man was trouble. Far bigger trouble than a
Caleb leaned over and scooped up the glass. Then it was
in front of her face again with his hand wrapped around it,
and her eyes traveled the length of his forearm and over
the rolled sleeve at his elbow, up to the rounded cap of
his shoulder, his collar and neck, his jawline and that
bump in his nose and those twinkling, confident,
conspiratorial eyes. Heaven help her, he looked good. Why
did misery always come in such attractive packages?
She took the glass from him, and his fingers bumped
hers, and it was terrible the way she felt it. Just
"Don't worry about it," he said. "I'll get you a new
phone with a radio. Comes in handy as a backup. You'll have
to let my team know every time you leave the house, and
they'll decide whether you need an escort. I'll get that
set up by tomorrow morning. In the meantime—"
"Stop," Ellen whispered.
Not loud enough. You had to be loud—she'd figured
that out with Richard. You had to be louder than they were,
stronger than they thought you could be, and so mean and
cold and unforgiving, they called you names.
She knew how to do this. She'd done it before.
"Stop," she said, and this time the word came out at a
satisfying volume. "You're not putting a fence up on my
property. I'm not giving you schematics. I don't want your
"Didn't we already cover this a minute ago?"
They had. But she'd been a fool, and she knew when to
change tactics. If she gave this man one more inch, he
would take over. She'd seen it with Jamie. One day, she and
Jamie had been ordinary teenagers, and the next thing she
knew her brother had his own armed escort. He was
ostensibly an adult now, but he reported his comings and
goings to a team of people who monitored his food, screened
his friends, and installed an alarm system in his house
that had a habit of going off a three a.m. in irritating
bursts of shrieking that no one knew how to stop.
Security guards oversaw Jamie's whole life. They told
him where he could go and when, controlled him, choked him.
Ellen couldn't handle that. Not after Richard.
So she folded her arms over her chest and stood up
straighter. Caleb's gaze locked with hers. Let him try, she
told herself. Just let him try.
But he only smiled, his eyes too kind and a bit
bewildered. "I'm here to help you. The way I see it,
Breckenridge put me under contract, but I work for you."
"Excellent," she said. Because it didn't matter whether
he was kind. It only mattered that he would wreak havoc
with her life if she let him. "In that case, you're fired."
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