Reviewed by Ami
Title: The Layover
Author: Roe Horvat
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 104 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: July 19, 2017
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Eight years ago, Ondro Smrek fled Slovakia and the bigotry that drove his first lover to take his own life. The demons proved impossible to outrun, though, and now, desperate for somewhere to belong, Ondro is returning to start over. During a layover in Basel, Switzerland, he meets Jamie, an American living in Scotland who is as brilliant as he is beautiful.
Jaded Ondro never would have guessed he could fall in love during a brief layover—until now. When he is put in a position to offer Jamie comfort without hope of recompense, Ondro doesn’t hesitate. Soon, he catches a glimpse of the home he longs for. But with their separation looming, confessing his feelings would only lead to pain and humiliation. Life has taught Ondro not to hope, but then, he never believed in love at first sight either….
Review: As a reader, the most important thing when I read a story is the connection. Connection to the characters, to the storyline, to the writing style. Connection is what can elevate my reading experience into the next level – when I can feel emotional about fictional characters, or when a story stays with me long after I finish it.
I always have soft spot in my heart for stories featuring lonely people that meet during a trip or being stranded at places like the airport or even a city. I think it has huge potential for a level of intimacy that transcends instant-attraction. You can blame the movie “Before Sunrise” for that I guess.
And that’s why The Layover works for me perfectly. There is a sadness and loneliness in Ondro Smrek, a Slovak who leaves his bigot of a country eight years ago. Being a flight attendant, I feel that Ondro hasn’t yet find a place that he belongs to. A place he can call home.
I yearned for the clutter and personality of a real home.
Then Ondro finds out that his first lover has committed suicide, and Ondro decides that maybe, maybe, it’s time to return to Bratislava, even when Slovakia is not really conducive for people like him. But before he can get there, he is stranded in Basel, Switzerland where he meets Jamie, an American transplant from Scotland.
And that’s how their story starts. In the beginning it’s going to be a one night stand – although Jamie doesn’t make it easy, he’s not into one night stands at all – but then it stretched for a week when Jamie gets sick and Ondro decides to take care of him.
Gah, I loved it so much.
I loved how this story is basically just about the two of them – we have a couple of friends, one is Ondro’s and the other is Jamie’s, that gets to talk to them via telephone – but the core of it is them. Talking about lives and maybe regrets as Jamie is recuperating. Ondro cooks, Jamie rests, they watch movie or play game during the day, and cling to each other at night. It’s tender, it’s gentle, and most importantly, it’s about that human connection.
And all the while, Ondro is navigating the messy feelings that he starts to develop for Jamie. The hope, the need, the fear, and that vulnerable state of being. It touched me in such a real way I got all choked up a couple of times when I read this in the wee hours of the morning. That’s when I knew this one was a winner for me.
The only thing that I miss is probably Jamie’s perspective. Because everything about Jamie comes from Ondro, and I wonder if he sees Jamie in sort of rose-tinted glasses. I don’t feel like I knew Jamie enough. It’s a tiny fuss though. Even within the short time span that happens in this novella, I believe in Ondro and Jamie.
I love Roe Horvat’s writing style. It has a poetic touch that I adore so much.
He ate very little but clung to his coffee mug like it was his lifeline. He looked out the window, and I couldn’t help but watch his profile, letting the desolation flood me. In the cold morning light, his skin was almost completely white. He’d tied his hair into a little bun again. The whisper-soft strands that curled around his ears made my fingers tingle with the need to touch him.
As a new-to-me author, Roe Horvat delivered to my reading taste. I will most definitely keep my eyes on their next book.
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*