Sunday, December 29, 2019

Review Tour: The Layover by Roe Horvat #Review #Giveaway

Length: 115 pages


Eight years ago, Ondro Smrek fled Slovakia and the bigotry that drove his first lover to take his own life, but the demons proved impossible to outrun. 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 and soon catches a glimpse of the home he longs for. But with their separation looming, confessing his feelings can only lead to pain and humiliation. Life has taught Ondro not to hope, but then, he never believed in love at first sight either…


Ondro has been running for a long time—eight years of meaningless work as an airline steward complete with rushed and empty couplings with men he never intended to fall in love with ever have left him jaded and lonely. Now it’s time to go home—home to Slovakia—home to a repressive religious run country that hates gays and makes their life intolerable. Ondro isn’t really sure why he’s going back but he’s sure that he must for it may only be there that he will truly feel at home. After all love will never find him—he doesn’t believe in it and so the idea that some man one day may be the home he so desperately seeks is impossible. Then he meets someone at the airport…and everything changes.

Author Roe Horvat is brilliant at creating characters that are so realistic you hunger to meet them and somehow comfort them as they tend to be rather near the breaking point when you see them in his stories. Even in The Layover, despite the short amount of page time we are given to understand Ondro, we are able to see what the weight of the guilt and loss he carries on his shoulders has done to him. Not only has it made him cynical about life, it has also assured him that love can never be his—that to confess such an emotion carries with it all the humiliation and pain from his past. Then he meets a stranger, Jamie, in a layover at the airport and everything he thought could never be his is suddenly dangled before him.

Can he trust what he is feeling? Does Jamie feel the same and, if he does, can it really last? So many doubts and worries consume Ondro who tries to embrace the joy he feels in Jamie’s arms. The Layover is a gorgeous story of comfort and love. In such a short time we learn all we need to know about Ondro, his former life, and the deepest desires of his soul. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Horvat doesn’t sugar coat what kind of life Ondro will be returning to, nor does he make some pie in the sky acceptance by Ondro’s parents a reality. No they are a product of a conservative and repressive religion and, as such, cannot ever accept Ondro’s sexuality. The scene between he and his mother is absolutely heartbreaking. But the love he and Jamie have for each other, while still new and a bit tentative, is enough to cover all the dismal and bad realities of Ondro’s homeland and family.

The Layover is a different kind of holiday story—one that will stay with the reader well beyond the last page. It is raw and beautiful and perhaps the best story I have read this season.

About the Author

Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. He came out as transgender in 2017 and has been fabulous since. He loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, bad action movies, stand-up comedy, pale ale, and daiquiri, with equal passion. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, he can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.

More about the author:
Twitter: @roehorvat

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