Hotel Laguna by Nicola Harrison

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: June 20th, 2023

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Romance, Adult, Adult Fiction, World War II

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1942, Hazel Francis left Wichita, Kansas for California, determined to do her part for the war effort. At Douglas Aircraft, she became one of many “Rosie the Riveters,” helping construct bombers for the U. S. military. But now the war is over, men have returned to their factory jobs, and women like Hazel have been dismissed, expected to return home to become wives and mothers.

Unwilling to be forced into a traditional woman’s role in the Midwest, Hazel remains on the west coast, and finds herself in the bohemian town of Laguna Beach. Desperate for work, she accepts a job as an assistant to famous artist Hanson Radcliff. Beloved by the locals for his contributions to the art scene and respected by the critics, Radcliff lives under the shadow of a decades old scandal that haunts him.

Working hard to stay on her cantankerous employer’s good side, Hazel becomes a valued member of the community. She never expected to fall in love with the rhythms of life in Laguna, nor did she expect to find a kindred spirit in Jimmy, the hotel bartender whose friendship promises something more. But Hazel still wants to work with airplanes—maybe even learn to fly one someday. Torn between pursuing her dream and the dream life she has been granted, she is unsure if giving herself over to Laguna is what her heart truly wants.

First Line:

I stepped off the coach, directly in front of the boardwalk, and was immediately struck by the colors.

Hotel Laguna by Nicola Harrison

Having just been let go from her riveting job, Hazel has nowhere to go. Unwilling and unable to go home to Kansas to conform to the life of a housewife and mother, Hazel decides to stay in California. Landing in Laguna, Hazel becomes the assistant to the reclusive artist Hanson Radcliff. Hazel didn’t expect to fall in love with the free spirit of Laguna, and she most definitely didn’t expect to become a vital member of the community. Laguna was only supposed to be a temporary place for Hazel to regroup and refocus on her plans- working on airplanes and eventually flying them. Will Hazel put down roots in Laguna? Or will she drift onto the next town, looking for her dream?

I have mentioned this before, but I am fascinated with anything World War II. I read anything that I can get my hands on it. But I rarely have read anything about what happened after World War II. So, when I read the Hotel Laguna blurb, I knew I needed to read it. Also, I am a massive fan of anything that Nicola Harrison writes. I am glad that I read this book because it was excellent!!

Hotel Laguna is a fast-paced book that is primarily set in the town of Laguna, California. The pacing of this book fits the storyline. But the book lagged a tiny bit toward the middle of the book. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.

The main storyline in Hotel Laguna centers around Hazel. This was a well-written storyline that kept my attention on the book. Not only did I enjoy reading about Hazel’s past (and found her riveting experience fascinating), but I also liked seeing how her relationships with several of the characters in the book shaped her.

Several secondary storylines fed in and bolstered the main storyline. The main secondary storylines that stood out to me were the storyline about Hanson, Isabella Rose, the painting, and the scandal. The other storyline that stood out was the one with Jimmy, the hotel, and the Laguna community. Both storylines were well-written, and they added depth to the main storyline.

Hazel was an interesting character, and I liked that she didn’t always make the best choices. But she was a good person, and she did try for a long time to stay in a situation that didn’t make her happy. Hazel also did try to let her fiance down lightly when she couldn’t make things work anymore. And after that nasty letter from her fiance’s mother, she continued sending them money (for his funeral expenses). And in the present day (aka 1946), Hazel still didn’t make the best choices, but her heart was in the right place.

Hanson Radcliff was a compelling character, also. He was much older than Hazel, and I thought he didn’t care for her for most of the book. It wasn’t until the last half of the book that I saw that he cared for her like a daughter. I was slightly irritated that the author dragged out his story with Isabella Rose and the painting

There was a slight mystery angle in Hotel Laguna. It centered around the missing painting that Hanson did of Isabella Rose and where he hid it. There was a neat twist toward the end that I saw coming. Even though I saw the twist coming, it was still interesting to read.

The end of Hotel Laguna was bittersweet. But I don’t think that I would have written it any differently.

I recommend Hotel Laguna to anyone over 16. There is mild language, mild violence, and nongraphic sexual situations.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Nicola Harrison for allowing me to read and review Hotel Laguna. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Hotel Laguna, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Nicola Harrison

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