Rating: 4.5 stars
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After a car accident shook up his life, Jon Cooper likes to keep himself controlled with no emotional attachments. Caring too much can lead to incredible hurt, and he is determined to keep his feelings in check to prevent further pain. When he advertises for a roommate, Jon is not looking for a relationship, or really even a friend. Jon just wants someone who will be quiet and easy to live with and do his own thing. He is not prepared for Leander Thorne to worm his way into Jon’s heart against his will. Jon is a caretaker, and despite his determination to prevent it, he can’t help himself from caring for Leander who is like a cross between a puppy and a stray cat needing feeding. And before Jon realizes it, he cares for Lea more than he ever expected. They have an interesting journey along the way, however. When Jon first meets Lea, he assumes Lea is a young student. But it turns out Leander is a psychic who works mostly finding lost pets, but occasionally gets called in by the police for bigger jobs. Jon doesn’t believe for one second what Lea can do until he sees it for himself.
Dead in L.A. is divided into two short stories that flow together but that each involve a separate mystery. In Dead in the Hills, Leander is approached by a police officer who is investigating an old cold case. A woman was killed in a motel 20 years ago and he is hoping Leander can help provide a lead that will resolve the old murder. In Dead in the Valley, Jon and Leander meet Kevin, an old boyfriend of Jon’s, along with Kevin’s new boyfriend Max. It turns out that Max has some secrets from his past that Leander manages to unintentionally uncover.
Although the book is divided up by these two investigations and they sort of guide the story structure, this isn’t really a mystery book in the traditional sense. The investigations serve as a way for Jon and Leander to grow closer and to show Lea’s psychic skills, but they are not really “whodunits” in the sense that the reader is trying to figure out the clues along the way. In fact, in the first case the resolution to the murder plot is pretty much just told to Jon and Lea by the detective. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because what I enjoyed most about this book is the relationship between Jon and Lea, but I just mention it so you understand what you are getting here.
As I said, the real focus of the book is on the relationship between these guys, and to a greater extent, Jon’s emotional recovery from a man who has shut down all his feelings and cut off all connections to someone who can care once again. He has been hurt so badly by his loss that he just doesn’t want to take the chance of being hurt again. When he first meets Leander, Jon wants nothing but a casual, almost businesslike relationship. Even when he accepts his attraction and the men have an occasional sexual hookup, Jon is determined not to let emotions get involved and he retreats almost immediately. But Leander just becomes so important to Jon, almost without him realizing it and certainly against his will. I was amused by the interaction between them as Jon just can’t help but take care of Leander, feeding him when he thinks Lea doesn’t eat enough, insisting on driving him on his jobs claiming he is worried about Leander’s old car. He keeps making excuses to justify his actions, but deep down it becomes clear that he has grown to care for Leander whether he wanted to or not.
I found these guys so cute together and I loved the mixture of Jon’s sort of grumpy curmudgeon and Leander’s endless sunshiny personality. I liked seeing Lea break Jon out of his shell and help him to reflect on his past and start to move on. Although it is clear that these guys have grown to care for one another and have started a fledgling relationship of sorts, this is not an HEA story, and in fact these guys aren’t really even an official couple. But it is clear that there is growing bond between them and an emotional connection that seems likely to turn into more.
So I liked this one quite a lot. A bit untraditional in terms of structure but the story kept me captivated from the beginning and I just loved Jon and Leander. It sounds like there might be a sequel at some point which I would love, as I would be excited to see Jon and Lea together now that Jon has finally admitted to an emotional connection with Lea. I found this one really interesting and clever and a great story.