If you have already read L. A. Heat by author P. A. Brown, you have met David Eric Laine and Christopher Bellamere. If not, get ready to make their acquaintance in L. A. Mischief, a fast-paced novella that details the early months of their relationship. David a LAPD Homicide Detective is stubborn, proud, and barely out of the closet. As the story opens, he is struggling to find the balance between his intense feelings for Chris, the urges of his newly liberated libido, and the demands of a job where bodies pop up on an all too regular basis.
Chris blonde, smart, out and proud faces his own set of challenges, including helping his best friend cope with his ongoing grief after the brutal murder of his lover. Life events conspire to bring David and Chris together while at the same time keeping them apart. Will they be able to push their way through and find a common ground for happiness and their shared love?
There are 3 stories in this book – L.A. Mischief and two shorts about David’s and Chris’s erotic adventures.
The plot is about a couple of murder investigations and, according to the blurb, “details the early months of their (David’s and Chris’s) relationship.” However, the story opens one month after the protagonists have broken off their affair and they are both seeking sexual satisfaction in the arms of random men they pick up in bars. Both characters were cock whores for approximately 40% of the story and demonstrated the stereotypical behaviour that a lot of people associate with gay men. I couldn’t figure out the purpose of all the action unless it was to show that their need for sex was so powerful and overwhelming that they had to have it with the flavour of the night. At times I wondered whether this was a different type of “romance” since David and Chris were with everyone but each other, and it didn’t appear that they would ever get together. Chris seemed to be feeling the effects of the breakup more than David — not only was he drinking a lot, he was also indulging in poppers which were a prelude to him having sex (sometimes unsafe sex) with strange men. Here’s a quote from a ‘morning after’
CHRIS ROLLED AWAKE groaning as his head throbbed and nausea launched an assault on his stomach. His teeth felt slimy and his tongue was thick and fur covered. He could still smell the stink of sex and poppers. God, not again. But the bed beside him was empty, though he had a vague memory of someone. Dancer. Broadway dancer. Star. Right, Star, the incredibly lithe dancer of the dexterous mouth and talented cock. No, wait, that was the night before. Last night had been who…? Miguel. Another conquest from Man2Man
David was now out and frequenting gay clubs and bars to pick up men and he liked the leather scene. He had a new boy toy Blair, an EMT, and they seemed to be serious since Blair had a key to his place, and he definitely enjoyed his new lifestyle including the threesomes. No longer did David have to go out of town to pick up men, now that he was out there was a veritable smorgasbord of hot men from which he could choose. He was still very conflicted about being openly gay at work. He and Chris had broken up over something that seemed insignificant to me (Chris called him at work, and apparently he had requested that he should not do this.) Even though I understood his anger it did not seem rational that they would break up over something as minor as this, but he was clearly not happy that his brothers in blue now knew about his sexual orientation and he blamed Chris for the ridicule he was subjected to at work.
The two murders in the book that required David’s and his partner Martinez’s attention were relatively short lived investigations and were not important in the sense that the Carpet Killer was in L.A. Heat, although one murder investigation resulted in David being stabbed, which was used as a plot device to bring Chris back into his life. I enjoyed this part of the book when David and Chris were trying to revive their relationship and actually began dating each other. These two very flawed men had a lot of work to do in order to resolve their issues, however, I didn’t feel that the characters had as much depth as in L.A. Heat. Chris was the more vulnerable and he was eager to get back with David, rather than the other way around.
I had some difficulties with L.A. Mischief, not the least of which were the characterizations and what appeared to be some obvious editing errors. At the end of L.A. Heat it was around Christmas time, several months after the end of the Carpet Killer case, and the guys were together celebrating the holidays, very much in love with no ominous storm clouds hanging over them. To my surprise, in L.A. Mischief, a subsequent book, it’s not even Halloween and they have broken up a month after the end of the case. Did the events in L.A. Mischief occur prior to the end of L.A. Heat? When did the problems start between them? These conflicting timelines were very confusing. Also, there were other errors including the length of time Martinez and David had been partners – L.A. Heat mentioned that they had been partners for 6 years but L.A. Mischief stated that they had been partners for 7 years, so the partnership gained a year in a month.
L.A. Mischief had a lot more of Des, Chris’s good friend, who is still depressed and in therapy because he is grieving the rape and murder of his lover at the hands of the Carpet Killer. It took an emergency for Chris to wake up and realize how much Des really meant to him and needed his support.
To wrap up, even though this book was well written, as you probably figured out from this long and unfocused review, I didn’t enjoy L.A. Mischief as much as L.A. Heat which I thought was a superior story. I love some man on man sex in M/M romances but I felt that the amount of sex was excessive and detracted from what could have been a wonderful exploration of Chris’s and David’s relationship since we left them in L.A. Heat. I’m certainly not advocating that if the protagonists break up temporarily they should be celibate, but I did think that there should be a balance. The bonus stories explore David’s and Chris’s relationship and were enjoyable quickies.
If you read and enjoyed L.A. Heat then you should read L.A. Mischief, the second book in the series, to understand the story so far before you tackle L.A. Boneyard the newest episode. While I didn’t love some elements of the story there was sufficient content that I enjoyed, especially the murder investigations, and I would therefore recommend L.A. Mischief, especially if you’re a fan of P.A. Brown.