Title: Where You Hurt the Most
Author: Anne Brooke
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Characters: Adrian, Dan
POV: 1st Person
Adrian is more than happy as high-class escort for a number of regular clients. When his boss and dear friend asks him to entertain his nephew, Adrian readily agrees, but meeting Dan challenges him in ways he’d never imagined.
Dan is scarred inside and out from an accident that destroyed a promising future. Despite Adrian’s loveless lifestyle and Dan’s withdrawal and anger, the two men forge a deep—if unnerving—connection. Soon they find themselves questioning the choices they’ve made and the futures they’ve mapped out for themselves.
Yet even bright young men like Adrian and Dan fear the unknown and take comfort in the familiar. Neither may be strong enough to step away from the life they know and toward the one they dare not hope for. But while it’s true that love can’t heal all wounds, it is the surest balm for where you hurt the most.
Some of the most painful scars, the ones that hurt the most, are the scars that can’t be seen, whether it’s the end of a relationship or the end of a chapter in life that seemed like nothing but promise until, in the space of a moment, it shifted drastically and left behind the visible evidence of that change like a brand upon the skin.
Where You Hurt the Most is the story of two men, each scarred but in very different ways, who are brought together in what might be described as both a business transaction and an act of mercy.
Dan’s life was irrevocably altered after a tragic accident that left half his face scarred and left him decimated emotionally. Hiding himself from the world, keeping everyone at arm’s length, Dan cut himself off from everything he was and everything he’d dreamt of being before it was all so cruelly stripped away from him. He is the beast who guards himself and hides behind the walls of bitterness left behind in the wake of his transformation.
Adrian is a paid escort, not a whore, mind you, but a warm and intelligent companion for hire who seems to instinctively know his clients’ needs, even if the need is nothing more than a momentary sense of connection to another living soul. But not a single one of those clients truly knows Adrian. He separates himself from them, maintaining a sense of distance even as he draws them out of themselves. He is physical perfection and beauty, but even Adrian has scars and hides behind an identity that isn’t even his own.
Where You Hurt the Most isn’t a literal retelling of the French fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, but whether Anne Brooke intended it or not, the connection is there in this story of patience and acceptance and understanding and compassion that completely alters the lives of these two men. This is a story of seeing and sensing the pain and the promise that lies beneath the surface of the fragile and imperfect skin, of going beyond the physical and delving into the places where the strength of the man, the truth of him, resides, until, finally, he is changed for the better.
This is a short but truly gorgeous story, rich with the hope found in something new.
Reviewed By: Lisa