John works as the head rigging engineer for the Cirque, and since they are creating a new show from the ground up, John’s expertise is invaluable. The Cirque has brought in a lot of new performers for the show. Bao is a bouncy, energetic acrobat who goes out of his way to introduce himself and say hi to everyone. John does his best not to read into Bao’s attention, but the more time they spend together, the harder that is. Bao is constantly seeking John out, eating with him, and talking to him. Other crew members have pointed out that Bao like John, but John knows it can only be friendship. Bao is just that kind of guy, and the burn scars on John’s face and arm make it so no one wants to be too close. But despite some indicators that Bao might actually want John for more, John resolutely refuses to believe it. Until an accident puts Bao temporarily out of commission, and John is there to care for him. A conversation about true feelings leads to so much more, and John just might get everything he’s always wanted.
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 both of these characters. John has a lot of baggage, and some bad stuff has happened to him in his life. But he’s made a life for himself, and he’s resigned to being alone. He’s used to keeping himself at arm’s length, and so he doesn’t quite know what to do with the sweet, energetic, friendly Bao. There’s sort of a slow burn going on here, because even though John acknowledges his physical attraction to Bao pretty early on, it takes time for him to allow thoughts of more. But by the time he was ready for it, it was wonderful to see them take that step from friends to lovers.
Bao is also fantastically portrayed. Since English is his second language, he’s got a particular cadence to his speech that is consistent throughout and really gave a deeper sense to his character. More than that, he’s absolutely adorable. From the very first time he stepped on the page, I adored him. And that was part of the draw to watching this story unfold. Watching Bao try and court John, with John not understanding that was what was happening, and Bao was just so real and earnest. I enjoyed the unfolding of their romance immesnsely.
Now, I did have a couple of small quibbles with the story. I would have liked to see the characters developed just a tiny bit more, as it seemed like some aspects of their lives and personalities were kind of glossed over. Overall, this wasn’t a huge detriment to the story, but it would have enhanced it a bit. I would have also liked to see the conversation come a bit earlier, and to have more time with these guys as a couple. I liked them and wanted more time with them together.
But really, I just thought this story was sweet, adorable, and had just a bit of feels in there to give it depth. I really liked watching these two men find their HEA with each other and it was a great, quick read. Looking for something sweet and angst free? Definitely pick this one up.