Where You Hurt the Most is a beautifully written novelette from the first-person viewpoint of a British man who is an exclusive and highly paid escort. (This novelette and Cruce de Caminos, reviewed above, are two of the four fictions featured in Riptide Publishing’s Rentboys 2012 collection.) I am always glad to snap up the latest fiction from Anne Brooke because the writing is flawless – clean, crisp, minimalist, and elegant – and her insight into the interactions between people is profound. This story fulfills both expectations.
Adrian seems to be the perfect escort, living the perfect life. He’s wealthy, cultured, handsome, and perceptive. He surrounds himself with beauty while pursuing a career doing something he loves. Sex for hire is only a small part of his job description, which involves being a good companion in an overall sense – someone attractive, gracious, and intellectually stimulating who can accompany wealthy male clients to social events to help them appreciate the finer things in life. Adrian even considers his boss a close friend.
However, Adrian also seems to have a white-knuckled sense of total control over his life, which hints at a deeper sense of deprivation. He has never known real love. When his boss asks him to entertain a special client, a young cousin who doubts his attractiveness after getting badly burned in an accident, Adrian is intrigued. But his new client, Dan, begins to shake his sense of control from their very first meeting. Dan is defensive, vulnerable, and traumatized. He also may be the man for whom Adrian hasn’t even known he was looking, and the catalyst for some hard choices.