“Layover”, by Katrina Jackson

30 Mar
Cover for LAYOVER, showing a muscular bearded Black man, with long hair in a top knot, in a grey t-shirt, with a tattoo covering most of his left forearm, leaning against a wall.

I would very much recommend this novella is an introduction to the writing of Katrina Jackson, with a couple of caveats: it’s very much HFN rather than HEA, and one of the characters is dealing with grief over the loss of a parent.

Also, graphic sex on the page and a bit of cursing.

“Layover” by Katrina Jackson

This novella covers both one night, and a period of a few months, as our heroine, Lena is having a bit of a professional crisis–which, to be honest, it’s more a very personal crisis–, while Tony is having a crush in free-fall.

Da blurb!

Lena Ward is an unhappy travel blogger with a less than 24 hour layover in her hometown. She spends the day with Tony Dembélé, a podcaster she’s been flirting with for a few months online. In their brief time together Lena confronts some hard truths about her life and her past and the two test the waters of their connection.

The story is told mostly from Lena’s point of view, with a few scenes from Tony’s; I found the structure of the chapters clever and charming.

Because this is a novella, there’s not much I can say about the actual plot without spoiling it, so I’ll just say that there’s quite a bit of depth in about 90 pages of story. The romance is sweet, the sex is well written and it furthers the characterization in how they talk about consent, contraception, etc.

The secondary characters, mostly sketched rather than fully developed (with one obvious exception), ground both Lena and Tony as people who exist beyond the confines of this story, in a world that is big and colorful, and intimate and loving.

I’ve said before that I am generally not a fan of grand gestures–in real life I find them almost universally cringe–but occasionally there’s one in fiction that fits the characters and the story so well, I’ll take it. 1 That is the case here: it fits for a HFN ending, as this is a sweet relationship that’s basically just starting.

Finally, here’s where I confess that most of the references to specific songs, and some artist’s oeuvres as a whole, passed me by entirely; I am positive that anyone who listens to U.S. music regularly, both current and not-so-much, would enjoy this novella that much more. But–and this is important–the story quite enjoyable even when you don’t get the references.

“Layover” is a romance, but it’s almost more Lena’s story, and I liked how it handles both aspects quite a lot. Ms Jackson has a very engaging writing style. 8.50 out of 10


1 Most recently, there’s one at the end of SOMETHING NEW that I enjoyed quite a bit.

5 Responses to ““Layover”, by Katrina Jackson”

  1. Lori 30/03/2022 at 3:09 PM #

    Sounds good. And novellas are much more my speed currently so time to check it out.

  2. willaful 31/03/2022 at 1:03 PM #

    I can’t find this in my records, but I’m sure I read it. I remember really liking the depiction of Oakland.

    • azteclady 31/03/2022 at 1:27 PM #

      I’ve never been there, but the story feels very grounded, and the places and streets familiar, if that makes sense?

      • willaful 31/03/2022 at 1:29 PM #

        Yes. It wasn’t set in actual places I knew, IIRC, but it felt right.

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