Reviewed by Helyce
Jon is still recovering following a tragic accident that left him quite a bit out of sorts and unable to go back to his previous work in construction. He’s gone back to school, hoping to get a degree in advertising. He enjoys drawing and art and is pretty good at it. Not really enjoying being alone, and to help make ends meet while he’s in school, he decides to get a roommate. When “Lea” answers his online ad, he’s expecting a woman and is quite surprised when he opens the door and meets Leander for the first time. Lea agrees to take the room and moves in shortly thereafter.
It’s not until they’ve been roommates for a while that Jon finds out that Leander is a psychic; his talent being finding lost things like pets or inanimate objects. Jon is surprised until he sees Lea in action and slowly comes to believe in his ability. As the men get to know each other, Jon takes on a somewhat protective role over Lea which pulls him more and more into the work that Jon does.
All Jon wanted was a roommate to pay half the rent. He certainly didn’t count on how Leander would easily weasel his way into his life and then into his heart.
When I first picked up Dead in L.A., I didn’t know it was actually two short stories that were connected. My initial thought upon reading the last page was, “that’s it????” and I have to admit to feeling quite unsatisfied. I simply wanted there to be more. So before beginning this review, I did do a little bit of research and learned that the author does plan to revisit Leander and Jon and that appeased me a tiny bit.
Our main characters, Jon and Leander, are an unlikely pair where romance is concerned. We get a glimpse into their pasts, but really just enough to understand where they are coming from and why their approach to each other is the way it is. Both have suffered tragedy and loss and while they have that in common, it doesn’t necessarily make their unlikely relationship stronger. Initially Jon takes on a more “big brother” type role where Leander is concerned. At 22, Leander is happy eating Top Ramen 3 times a day and that absolutely doesn’t work for Jon who is closer to 30 and takes it upon himself to make sure that Leander gets 3 decent meals a day. As the story progresses we see Jon’s protective instincts continue to surface, though they quickly become less brotherly in every way.
The paranormal aspect of this story revolves around Leander’s psychic abilities and I was really pulled in to the mystery like feel as Leander works with Detective Lipkin on a cold case. While it’s mentioned that Leander has really only used his gift to find lost pets and lost items, I enjoyed how the author introduced additional qualities to Leander’s gift in the form of dreams and his heightened sensitivity during a storm. I adored Leander. As the reader we know there is so much more to his gift; that he sees so much more, but he only reveals relevant information keeping all the juicy tidbits to himself. Below, Jon confronts Leander after he finds an expensive lost earring for a woman they meet at a party, Jon starts:
“You’re such a terrible liar,” I grumbled.
“All right, I’m sorry about snooping. Sheesh.”
“What about that woman’s earring?”
“What about it?”
“Don’t tell me you didn’t know how it ended up under the fridge.”
“I knew it!”
“That’s different. She wouldn’t have liked her husband to find out. And I won’t tell you anything else either. There’s such a thing as psychic-client confidentiality.”
“There’s no such thing.”
“There is! An unwritten one.”
This is not a typical paranormal or m/m romance. There really isn’t an HEA, though Leander and Jon do find themselves in couple territory as we approach the end. I loved the mystery-like aspect and I certainly look forward to reading more and seeing Leander and Jon forge ahead. The ending took me by surprise, not because there was a cliffhanger, but because it just…ends. I was left feeling a bit empty and if I had this in a paperback I expect I would have thrown it against the wall. Also, if you expect hot sex scenes, you won’t find them here. While not fade to black, Ms. Harper uses a more minimalistic approach to the smexy-time included herein.
I truly dislike that empty feeling or lack of closure at the end of a story, but this author’s take on a paranormal using a psychic ability felt fresh to me as I’d not read anything like it recently. Combine that with very likable main characters who we’ve barely scratched the surface on and I’m looking forward to more from this series.