Review: “The Layover” by Roe Horvat

TITLE: The Layover
AUTHOR: Roe Horvat
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
LENGTH: 104 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 19, 2017
PRICE: $4.99 – e-book


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….

The Layover was a wonderfully surprising and very sweet little romance. What I really enjoyed about it was that it was different from most other books I have read. The storyline plot was extremely well thought out and researched, and felt authentic. The author’s writing style had me completely immersed in the story, and I felt like I was watching a movie in my head while reading. Everything seemed so real. I could see the character’s faces, I could picture the environment around them, I felt the fear and joy that they did. It was just…genuine.

The story is told in first person POV by the main character Ondro. At 30 years old, Ondro has just quit his job as a flight attendant and has decided to return home to Bratislava, Slovakia, but due to a strike by the airline, he gets stuck in Basel. Even though he was a flight attendant, Ondro comes across as being distant and grouchy, not really a people person. He normally only thinks about himself and doesn’t really get close to anyone, except for his best friend Kristina who he has known since he was a child. Ondro doesn’t really want to return to Slovakia, especially because there’s a referendum being held on same sex partnerships and it’s quite a hostile environment for a gay man. But he feels like he needs to face up to the life he left behind, to not feel scared or ashamed anymore, so that he can move on and be happy with himself.

In the airport while trying to arrange a hotel for the night and another flight, Ondro notices a young man with quirky dress-sense in front of him in the queue. At first, he finds the man to be quite strange, but when he actually sees his face, he realises that the man is actually very attractive and for some reason, Ondro can’t stop looking at him. When he finally gets the courage to speak to the other man, he’s shocked to find that he looks scared of Ondro and seems to be very nervous and doesn’t want to be involved in any kind of conversation. The men go their separate ways, and when Ondro arrives at his hotel, he decides that he can’t be stuck in the room looking at the four walls, so heads down to the bar, where he is surprised to find the young man from the airport. Ondro approaches the man again, and after some awkward conversation, they begin to relax a little. He discovers that the young man is the complete opposite of what he thought when he first set eyes on him, and his name is Jamie.

Jamie is originally from Idaho, but is living and working in Edinburgh, where he’s teaching and doing research in biochemistry and genetics. Jamie is quite shy and almost introverted. His best friend tries to push him to experience things out of his comfort zone, but Jamie can’t seem to bring himself to do it. He isn’t a one-night stand kind of guy, he needs to feel a connection to someone before he will take the next step, and even though he’s having a good time with Ondro, he knows he won’t go any further so decides to call it a night. But when Ondro gives him a napkin with his room number on it, it gives Jamie something to contemplate, after all, they’ll probably never see each other again. The two men soon find that their chance encounter will change their lives completely, and everything they thought they knew and believed about themselves was maybe wrong.

I adored this story and the characters. The little bits of Slovak that Ondro spoke just added to the realness and enjoyment of it. I love when an author includes parts of the language and culture they’re writing about, it really does make a difference to how the story/book is perceived and how it flows. I had never heard of this author before, but I’m going to make sure I have a look out for future releases, because if this book is anything to go by, I’d say we’re all in for a real treat.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***


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