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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  154 ratings  ·  68 reviews
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 a
ebook, 79 pages
Published September 12th 2016 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 10th 2016)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~

I was pleasantly surprised by this story. This is only the author's second published book (novella, really), but it's well written and brimming with sweetness.

The main characters aren't as well developed as I would have liked, but I still got a sense of them as people.

John works for Cirque as the lead rigger. He has burn scars on half his face and body, and is used to people staring. His colleagues have nicknamed him Phantom, which is terribly sad when you think about it.

But Bao, one of
This is so sweet!

Aidan Wayne really knows how to write feel-good books. Reading a story of these is a promise of a smile threatening to split my face in two.

They are kind of theatre plays.

Basically they are about two characters with flaws, but this kind of flaws that are not really defects, but an aspect of their lives that prevents them from really looking for happiness because of the fear of how they willl be viewed and judged by society. The problem is, this view and judgment they are scared
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
Counterbalance was a cute story from a promising author, Aidan Wayne, but it was too short to really do much for me.

I'm of the point of view that for a novella to be impactful, the author has to really go for it from the get go. That's really difficult to do in a novella, and that's why so many authors fall short in that format. Aidan Wayne did an admirable job with a sweet story about an eager, bubbly Cirque acrobat, Bao, and the lead rigger for the performance, John, but I still wanted more.
John started as a sideshow act and worked his way up to chief rigger for all Cirque Brilliance shows, meaning he handles the logistics for the stage layout and safety for the performers. Bao is a hand balancer and general gymnast at Cirque, performing for the first time outside of China. This short story is very much a character study of John and Bao, how they meet and become friends, and their first tentative steps into a relationship.

John's nickname is Phantom (think Phantom of the Opera) beca
My second book (short) by this Author and another hit! I'll be totally looking into something more by Aidan Wayne ;)

It was very sweet and made me feel sooo good.
Bao was just adorable and I loved how he cared for John.
And I might have cried a little bit for John in the last chapter...

A highly recommended comfort read that would definitely cheer you up!!!
3.75 stars rounded up

Two novellas (and one short story published under different name) in -- and I can safely say that I think Aidan Wayne's writing and story fit my reading preference to the T. Because I see how Wayne focuses on characters and connections when telling about the relationship, and not just sexual relationship for the sake of steam alone.

I found Counterbalance to be fulfilling my need of reading romance where the characters interact in more than just the bedroom. Where it started

There are books you just HAVE to like.
NOT to like this one felt like leaving pets drowing at the sea.

Sorry for THAT, but I didn't like it. Despite the fact that it was condemned to be liked.

A typical MM romance, sweet, nice, with a typical HEA, but.


I don't know. Sweet. Short. Forgettable.

Nothing happened here. Sweet and boring.

**Copy provided by the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Chris, the Dalek King
Running off to join the circus may be a joke to many people, but for John it ended up being a lifesaver. After many years working under the big tent, he has come to find that the family he has made there is so much more loving than the one that left him with scars and more than a few self-image issues. With a new season starting, and with new tricks and new people coming in, John has his work as a rigger cut out for him. Especially with hints that more water stunts might be added to the producti ...more
Jen Davis
Jul 31, 2016 rated it liked it
This is the second time I’ve been reeled in by a blurb on an Aidan Wayne story. It’s the second time I was totally bummed to realize that it was only a novella instead of a full length story. And it’s the second time the two heroes don’t really seal the deal on page.

But. Just like with the first novella I read from this author, both heroes are sweet and likeable. They’re an unlikely pairing, but they fit. They fill a void in one another, and because of that –and because of their vulnerabilities–
I've read both of Aiden Wayne's available books, and there is a definite "type": unique, sweet, charming, empathetic, and... page-turning! That last one surprised me, because more often than not, short stories (ironically?) bore me. I hardly ever form a connection to the characters and simply don't care what happens to them. With Wayne's stories, I care like crazy! Heart throbbing care. I loved both unique men and the world they existed in. Wayne never gets too physically sexy (hand-jobs, kisses ...more
Alexis  (TheSlothReader)
3.5 stars

Overall this story was adorable. I really loved having a main character who had physical scars that he wasn't struggling with. He was almost confident in them because he wasn't so traumatized by the incredibly traumatizing thing that happened to him. I loved the way the author explained John's feelings about his scars. It was a refreshing angle to read about.

I also loved Bao and the adorable way that he and John's relationship progressed. At first, I was worried that the way that Bao's
I love Bao. He is one of those amazing sunny, kind heroes with a lot of talent. John is nice but I adore Bao.

This is a slow burn and as such need to be more than a novella so that we could really see this relationship flourish.

I also would have preferred alternating points of view. Being stuck in John's head with Bao's limited English makes less of Bao and thus racially colors in a negative way this sweet love story.

Bao is so awesome. Aidan Wayne, please write longer books!

Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was so cute. I cried multiple times.
Obviously, it didn't touch me as deeply as Loud and Clear, but that never would have been a fair comparison. This is a wonderful novella about a queer guy trying to let himself believe that the wonderful, overenthusiastic, cute male asian acrobat really is into him. It's basically all romance, but TW for a recollection of extreme homophobia and violence and implied bullying. Also minor acrobatic accident and mild sexual content.
May 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Sweet but felt incomplete
Lexxi Kitty
*I received this book from NetGalley and Riptide Publishing in return for a fair review.*

After reading Aidan Wayne’s Loud and Clear, I was quite excited to see a new story pop up. I was quite eager to read it and was happy when my request was granted to read. I had to hold off, though, since I read fast, this is a short story, and I got the story a lot more than 30 days before publication. But the time had come . . .

So, John, a Texan, works as the guy who works out how to set up the rigging/matt
Barb ~rede-2-read~
This was a delightful romance story—one of those that leaves me saying “Aww, I want more.” I’ve heard some people call this kind of story too sweet, but really, it was very satisfying on so many levels; and IMHO, nothing is too sweet. This one was somewhat like a fine piece of dark chocolate that melts in your mouth as you savor the flavor while enjoying it slowly.

Bao Liu is recruited from China to join a new Cirque show. On his first day he meets John, the head rigger, a man whose face and bod
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars - I was given a copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.

With a magical Cirque du Soleil setting and a beguiling cast of performers and crew members, the author has created a wonderful setting for a romance. This is the story of John, the badly scarred and socially awkward chief rigger. He is a gentle, private man who is passionate about his work. It is also the story of Bao, a new Chinese acrobat, who is happy, friendly and always cheerful. I loved the contrast between th
Sep 07, 2016 rated it liked it

2.5 stars
I really enjoy Aidan Wayne's writing.
This story falls short of Loud and Clear but its better than most I've read this year which is saying something considering this is Wayne's second novella! Kudos to Wayne! You're doing it right!
So why am I not completely enthralled with this particular story? Well it comes down to there was nothing that made the story stand out from other MM books. Loud and Clear had unique, fresh voice which is missing in this. Bao was lovable but too Gary Sue for m
Joyfully Jay
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kris
A Joyfully Jay review.

4.5 stars

This story was absolutely adorable and wonderful. Bao is so earnest and sweet, John reticent with good reason. And together, they just make a sweet couple. Told from John’s POV, the author shows us a broken man who has come to terms with his life, but isn’t exactly happy there. As soon as John opens his heart to the possibility of more with Bao, he blossoms. These guys work together and I really liked their story.

I thought the author did particularly well with bot
Wart Hill
I received a free ARC via NetGalley

Things I Find While Shelving

I don't know what it is about Aidan Wayne's books but this is the second one I've read and yet again I feel like the portrayal of one of the characters is just a A little. I'm not entirely sure how to explain it, but the way Bao is portrayed felt very...odd to me.

This is a cute, sweet story. Just something about how Bao is written rubbed me the wrong way.
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bao was adorable, I love this author's stories. Looking forward to read the next one. ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shorts, 2018, favorites
I loved this so much! I kept feeling myself smiling as I was reading. Such sweet characters and a wonderful love story ... well, the beginning of a love story. My only real complaint is that I would like so much more about them and their lives. I have to hope that maybe there will be more about them some day although this is a complete story on its own.

Will definitely re-read any time I need to smile. Or feel warm fuzzies. Or to just enjoy a well crafted story.
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
An easy, low angst read. Could see the relationship deepen as the story went on. Will definitely read more from this author.
This is a heartwarming book brimming with good feelings and fluff and it is perfect to read when you need a pick-me-upper.
Mollien Fote Osterman
Title: Counterbalance
Series: Standalone
Author: Aidan Wayne
Publisher: Entertwine Publishing
Reviewer: Mollien
Release Date: September 12, 2016
Genre(s): M/M Romance
Page Count: 88 Pages
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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 fo
Lisa The Novel Approach
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 r ...more
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was very sweet and light!

Counterbalance is a novella about two people getting together and being absolutely adorable. I liked the light mood of the story, there isn't much conflict, everything is cute, funny and light. The best choice if you need pick-me-up book.
I liked the setting. I'm weak for stories set in circus. We have a bisexual protagonist and his love interest is Asian acrobat, who is the sweetest person in the world. I think it's a success that I came to care about these two char
Erica Chilson
I received a copy of this title to read and review for Wicked Reads

4.5 Cuddly Sweet Stars.

Aidan Wayne is a new-to-me author, and I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely Counterbalance was. This swiftly paced, short novella features one narrator, and is surrounded on the development of a friendship into a romance.

Counterbalance was the perfect injection of sweet romance- an enjoyable way to take your mind off life's stressers for almost two hours.

John has a tragic past, which led him to the c
Morgan  Skye
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, 2016, net-galley
What an interesting setting! John and Bao both work for Cirque Brilliance a circus act with acrobats and martial arts and exciting new routines who travel the world. John is from Texas and has a terrible burn across his face while Bao is a fresh new acrobat from China who falls for John’s accent first and doesn’t seem to mind the scars.

This is hurt/comfort at it’s best. Bao is open and honest and enthusiastic and John is sweet, kind and unassuming. John is NOT bitter, but he’s fairly resigned to
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: september-2016
4.5 Stars

I have to say this is the first circus based story I've read in this genre and I loved that. John is the head rigger for Cirque Brilliance and the scarring that covers more than half his face makes John really crawl into himself when it comes to meeting new people. Which I can relate to. I think we all can. Whether it's gaining weight, losing hair, or something else; how we feel about ourselves really reflects on us and our actions.

He does have a great crew/ family who l love and suppor
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Aidan Wayne has been publishing LGBTQ+ fiction since 2016. While they usually stick with contemporary romance (both adult and YA), some soft sci-fi/fantasy has been known to sneak in as well. They primarily write character-driven stories with happy endings, because, dammit, queer people deserve happy endings too.

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