John leads a settled life as the head rigger for an acrobatic troupe based in Canada. Disfigured in a hate crime when he was a teenager, he is used to being avoided and left to get on with his work of figuring out how to stage the troupe's daring performances safely. But things change when a new group of acrobats from China arrives for the up-coming season. One of them, Bao, seems fascinated rather than repulsed by John's looks, and seeks him out at every opportunity. John isn't quite sure what to make of Bao's friendliness. Surely the lithe young performer can't be interested in a troll like John.
“Counterbalance” is a rather sweet novelette about an unlikely relationship between two men from very different cultures and backgrounds. The cultural differences aren't explored as deeply as they probably could have been, but it's not a significant omission in the story. For such a short book, the story is well constructed and reasonably complete. You might wish the book was longer, but nothing essential is really missing.
Both John and Bao are quite well defined characters by the end. We get to know quite a bit about them, and how they got to where they are in the story, especially considering how short the book is.
“Counterbalance” is available from Amazon.