Author: Aidan Wayne
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 88 Pages
At a Glance: This author definitely has a talent for writing short stories.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: John loves his job as head rigger for Cirque Brilliance. The heavy scarring over half his face makes it a little hard to meet new people, but John’s got a good crew and a nice found family, and he’s content with his lot in life.
When Cirque hires talent for a new show, John meets Bao, a bright, ever-cheerful acrobat. Bao seems drawn to John and becomes a constant presence at his side — talking to him during downtime, spending time with him at lunch, and generally seeking out his company.
John doesn’t know what to make of this. Sure, he likes Bao — maybe a little too much, honestly — but he’s had enough experience to know that Bao couldn’t possibly like him back. Or so he thinks, anyway. Fortunately, Bao seems determined to prove him wrong.
Review: Counterbalance is more super cute, short story goodness from author Aidan Wayne. This was the second book I’ve read from Wayne and once again, their writing and characters captivated me. I didn’t love this one quite as much as I did Loud and Clear, but still thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of good stuff to tick off here: Unique setting; interesting characters; sweet, but not too sweet; loads of charm. Also, I love when authors aren’t afraid to write flawed or atypical characters, and Wayne does it really well again in this book.
John is seriously taken aback when one of the new performers takes a shine to him, and it’s quite amusing when what seems obvious to the rest of the crew—that Bao sincerely likes him—is completely lost on John. He doesn’t think anyone could possibly be truly attracted to him, what with all of his off-putting scars. Bao isn’t put off by John at all, however, and does everything he can to show John his affections. But, language and cultural barriers are only part of the issue…John simply can’t allow himself to believe that love might happen for him.
John is such a good egg. Just a solid, good guy. I liked him very much. And Bao is an absolute delight. Fun, bubbly, seemingly always happy, he is definitely the new bright spot in all of John’s days. Bao’s appetite for learning and his earnestness at practicing both his craft and English are endearing, and John finds himself being just as drawn to the Chinese acrobat as Bao obviously is to him. These guys were fantastic together. I loved their clumsy and awkward interactions just as much as I loved when they started figuring things out.
A quick couple more things that worked so well…First, the setting and premise were very cool. Building a Cirque show as the backdrop for the story was fun and intriguing. Even the stuff about John’s job as head rigger was interesting. Who would have thought that reading about people setting up tumbling mats would be fascinating?! Second, I loved John’s relationships with his co-workers. Their good-natured ribbing, and obvious fondness, of him was lovely to read.
This author definitely has a talent for writing short stories, and I would love to see more—we need more great stories in the less-than-one-hundred-pages category—but, I would also love to see something novel length from them because so far I’ve loved their work!
You can buy Counterbalance here: