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 has been all over my feed the past few days. I was unfamiliar with the author, but I decided to take a chance and read it for myself. The story, while short, was beautifully written and engaging and I'm wholeheartedly glad I gave this book a shot. Sometimes you've just got to take a chance, and as it turns out, that theme played heavily into the story that The Layover told, as well.
The Layover is about two men from two very different backgrounds and realities meeting by chance when they are both stranded in an airport. There are a lot of things this story could have turned into that it didn't. It could have turned into a sex-fest. It could've felt like insta-love. It could've felt trite. But it wasn't any of those things, at all. Instead, it was a story of two men getting to know each other and finding that they clicked beyond the physical. It was about taking chances. And it was the story of finding your way home.
Home. It's an interesting concept. It's both specific and vague. Home isn't always a place and sometimes a person can get so lost searching for it that they feel they'll never be able to find their way. But the lucky ones, whether by chance or sheer determination, do find home.
Ondro and Jamie are so different from one another. They have vastly different backgrounds and life experiences. Ondro comes from a country where bigotry and oppression was the normal. Ondro feels directionless and defeated. His family is religious and don't have much money. Jamie comes from an upper middle class family and has the education he wanted and has the privilege of living somewhere he not only loves, but that doesn't treat him as 'less than'. And I loved that Jamie recognized that privilege.
I loved their interactions from the start. I loved how Ondro was willing to try - without overstepping boundaries - to get Jamie's attention. And I loved that Jamie, ultimately, decided to take the chance. Sure it was supposed to be a one-night stand. A hookup. But when circumstances kept them together for longer than they originally planned for, Ondro was attentive and caring. And watching Jamie get so angry over the current events in Ondro's home country made me love him even more. When all was said and done, they both felt like there could be more, if only they were willing to take the chance.
The Layover was just so refreshing and unexpected and I just loved every bit of it. I'm truly impressed by this author and would definitely be willing to read more.
ARC of The Layover was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
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