And Able is the last in a trilogy of books about heroes who are former mercenaries (and if you can’t guess the titles of the first two books in the series you must be a newbie to romance novels). The hero is a hot and studly lone wolf, rather like one of those hot and studly lone wolves that Linda Howard does so well, and the heroine is vulnerable, but not wimpy. Normally, I love this kind of story, but And Able didn’t exactly make me want to fly to the bookstore to pick up the first two books. It was competent, but that’s about it.
And Able begins after the wedding of Josie and Nitro from Willing. At the reception, maid of honor Claire Sharp would love to change out of her dress and put on a pair of jeans (and given the description of the dress, I don’t blame her). But she’s stuck in a poofy dress and heels from hell, and that outfit attracts Nitro’s friend Hotwire, who turns on his southern charm full blast. Hotwire spends most of the wedding reception in a perpetual state of woodiness caused by Claire’s hottiness. He’s a loner determined to remain so because of a Tragic Incident from his past, while she’s a struggling non-traditional student, who grew up with a dysfunctional mother. Claire works and studies hard – and has no time for hanky panky – but Hotwire promised Josie and Nitro he’d look after Claire so she’s stuck with him.
One night, someone tries to smother Claire with a pillow, but she manages to mace him. He does get away, though, so Hotwire decides to move in with Claire, claiming he has to protect her. They smoulder at each other for a while, then they ask a sensible question. Why would someone want to kill a student with no ties to crime or terrorism? At first they think that the man who tried to smother Claire mistook her for Josie (who was trained as a mercenary) but it turns out that Claire’s job is the source of the danger she’s in. Claire has been working at a nursing home and one of her favorite patients was Lester, a man who in his youth had been an assassin. Someone thinks that he told Claire some of his secrets before he died and that someone wants to silence her.
The suspense elements and love story are not well integrated. The suspense stops for long periods of time while Claire and Hotwire boink like rabbits, then muse over their relationship. Hotwire, whose real name is Brett Adams, is actually a sensitive soul under his uncaring exterior. He paints, he has an artistic cabin in Montana, and for years he’s been carrying a torch. A long time ago, he fell in love with a woman named Elena. He promised her he’d never love a woman like he loved her, and when she was killed he decided that since a promise is a promise, he’d have lots and lots of sex but never love any of his partners. However there’s something about Claire (probably since she’s the heroine of this book) that brings out his latent ability to love.
Claire is a likable character. I empathized with her pain over her horrible childhood, and her determination to finish her college degree and become independent. She is only slightly TSTL (ladies, when the man you are with is a mercenary and he gives you security advice – Take It!), and doesn’t wilt into a puddle when danger rears its head.
And Able ended up as just an average read. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t exceptionally good. I was only moderately engaged in it while I was reading it and I doubt that it will stick in my mind for any length of time. Claire is nice, Hotwire is a sensitive stud, but Linda Howard does this kind of book better.