Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: The Layover by Roe Horvat

the layoverTitle ~ The Layover

Author ~ Roe Horvat

Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press

Published ~  19th July 2017

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance





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....


Debra’s Review

I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye out for future books from Roe Horvat. This debut is a sweet, sometimes haunting, low key story of finding love and direction, told from the POV of Ondro Smrek, a man who is once again running from something.

At 30 years old Ondro is lost and lonely and a bit jaded. He has up and left his job as a flight steward, leaving his apartment in Dubai and is heading back to Slovakia, where he grew up, and he’s not really sure why. There is nothing back there for him other than the best friend whose couch he is going to crash on. He is mostly estranged from his family other than occasional emails with his mother, but he knows he’s already a disappointment to them even without them knowing about his sexuality. The country is riding an anti-gay wave with referendums and rhetoric from the Conservative Catholic church ratcheting up the potential for violence against anyone assumed to be gay.

A delay at the airport has him noticing the beautiful, quirky young Jamie who seems to be everything Ondro is not. There is awkward flirting and getting to know you talk, but Jamie is not usually a one-night stand kind of guy. But Jamie isn’t all he outwardly appears to be either and when circumstances conspire to turn one night of fun into almost a week of time spent together, Ondro finds himself reconsidering almost everything.

There is a low key, simmering love story here but it is more a story about Ondro finding himself and dealing with his past in order to allow himself to move forward with a purpose. Told only from his POV, in a straightforward and simple writing style, it is easy to become immersed in the character, although it took me a little while to decide whether I was going to like Ondro or not. While it is technically insta-love it was easy to accept since we are privy to almost every thought Ondro has from the moment the two see each other at the airport.

Jamie is an unexpected burst of color and freshness in Ondro’s world and I loved his character from the start. Even without his POV and not yet having his full story, I felt as if I fully understood Jamie after their conversations the first night together. He is straightforward and a perfect contrast to Ondro.

The story packs a lot into its short length including commentary on the political climate relating to LGBT issues in various countries. There are several secondary characters that add to rounding out the men’s stories and there is even time for Ondro to go back and confront what he left behind. The story also runs the gamut of emotions as Ondro goes from a closed off man making a zombie-like trek to a place he no longer calls home, to a man whose whole future has opened up in a way he never allowed himself to believe it could.

This is a fantastic debut from Roe Horvat. It’s something a little different than your typical insta-love story so don’t let that scare you away. The Layover is a story that will draw you in and make you think, a romantic character study, if you will, that I think you should take a chance on.

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Meet Roe Horvat

Roe was born in former Czechoslovakia and endured a miserable adolescence in the post-communist wasteland. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, they left for Germany and later, Spain.

Finally, they settled in Sweden, where the weather is nasty but the freedom great. Roe works as a motion graphics artist, loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams and everything in between, preferably by the fireplace with a strawberry daiquiri in hand. Roe writes contemporary romantic fiction – it conveniently balances out their real-life pragmatism.

When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, Roe can be found trolling caf├ęs in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.



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