Cover Image: Hotel Laguna

Hotel Laguna

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
The premise of the book drew me in but once I started reading it, I just couldn’t get into it at all.
I wish the author, publisher and all those promoting the book much success and connections with the right readers.
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Thank you to Net galley for a free e - copy of Hotel Laguna by Nicola Harrison in exchange for a honest review..Hazel Francis is a Rosie the Riveter working in an airplane manufacturing plant during WW2.All her family is deceased and after the war she is told there is no place for her at the plant when the men return home from war.She travels to Laguna Beach where she becomes a muse/assistant for famous local artist Hanson Radcliffe and befriends local bartender Jimmy.Can she finally find the family she is missing.?Lots of action and drama including the hunt for a missing painting..This book shines a spotlight on a time n our country’s history where women lost their place in society after the end of WW2 and how one woman fights to stay front and center.
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Every once in a while, the perfect summer beach read shows up. Enter Hotel Laguna, but that’s really not at all surprising, given that it’s written by the fabulous Nicola Harrison. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I always make an exception for Nicola. Her ability to craft relatable and believable characters doing interesting things keeps me completely enthralled, and I’m always a little sad when they’re over.  Thanks for the opportunity to review!
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It’s 1942 and Hazel Francis is one of the American women ready and willing to pitch in while the men are away fighting World War II. When she gets to California, she is hired by Douglas Aircraft, praised early on for her attention to detail and quick speed. Then the war ends and the men return, a bittersweet time for women like Hazel who have to provide for themselves with little to no opportunities to do so.

But after getting a taste of financial independence, Hazel is now certain of what she always suspected, a traditional woman she is not. Rooted in this knowledge, Hazel decides to stay in California, settling in the town of Laguna Beach. There she stumbles upon an opportunity to work with the controversial, yet famous artist, Hanson Radcliff. Pleasing the difficult Radcliff is easier said than done, but in time, the two develop a rhythm, and even a mutual respect. So when Hanson needs Hazel’s help, she has a decision to make. Should she choose to believe the rumors or choose to believe in new beginnings?

This is the second book I’ve read by author @nicolaharrisonauthor, both stories strong, female driven accounts of historical fiction. It’s clear Harrison has a penchant for writing strong females that are ahead of their time. While romanticizing this time period is nothing new, it’s also a part of history that proved to be crucial to the woman’s movement, thus making it the perfect backdrop to depict such progression. Interwoven in Hotel Laguna was also a touch of mystery along with a dash of love. A well rounded blend, Hotel Laguna is one hotel worth checking into this summer.
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I loved Nicola Harrison's previous books, especially her debut, Montauk, and was excited to pick up Hotel Laguna. It's a rather satisfying historical fiction book with a fascinating post-WW2 setting and interesting characters. I loved the relationship between Hazel and her grouchy employer, Hanson. I enjoyed the mystery of the missing painting and Hazel's attempts to solve it. I thought that the romance subplot was weak. And the ending was a little rushed. Overall I enjoyed the book but didn't love it as much as Montauk.
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Book Summary:

The year is 1942, and Hazel Francis has set out on her own, determined to find a way to help in the war. What she found was an opportunity to become one of the "Rosie the Riveters" crew. Unfortunately, this life wasn't to last, as it all fell apart when the war ended.

Many women, Hazel included, don't want to go back to the way things were before. They don't want to fall back into their gender roles. As such, Hazel jumps at the opportunity to take on a new job that will hopefully let her choose her path in life.

My Review:

If you're looking for an inspirational historical fiction novel that will resonate with your soul, Hotel Laguna is the book for you. At least, that was certainly the case for me. Hazel's journey may be set in the past, but so much of it was easy to connect to.

Her story is an extreme form of what many of us go through – fighting against the world to find our place. Likewise, her story may be a work of fiction, but it portrays the real struggles and battles women of her time fought. So I really appreciated reading this tale, even if it sometimes gave me a heavy heart.

I should mention that Hazel is one of the most endearing protagonists I've read about in some time, and I'd like to think that is saying something. She's strong and stubborn and in the best of ways. It'll make you want to hug, protect, and cheer for her. Sometimes all at the same time.

Historical Romance
Battling Traditional Gender Roles
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What an absolutely delightful summer read! This historical novel gives us a strong sense of place as Hazel, a young 20-something from the Midwest, tries to find a place for herself in Bohemian beach town, Laguna Beach after leaving her job building airplanes as men return home at the end of WWII. 

This book is set around WWII but if that’s not usually your jam or you’re tired of WWII stories, don’t let that dissuade you. The war serves as a backdrop but it’s really a story self-discovery, unlikely friendship, and young love set amid the art scene in the 1940s. The historical setting gave the book great vibes without being heavy on the war story. 

This book was entertaining, light enough for summer, but still held enough weight to give it substance. I loved the main character and was invested in what happened to her. I recommend this book if you’re looking for beachy historical fiction this summer. I’ll definitely be reading into Harrison’s backlist!
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What a great book! I really fell for the main character Hazel. All of the characters were very distinct and I could feel the setting all around me. I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Pagent of the Masters which made the book and even more fun read.
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Title:  Hotel Laguna      
Author:   Nicola Harrison  
Genre:  Historical fiction   
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

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.

I enjoyed this read! Hazel was a fascinating character to read:  she went from a small-town girl who went along with what everyone around her wanted (namely men) to making a live that she wanted and impacting those around her. I enjoyed her relationship with Radcliff and how it shaped her, and I loved seeing who she became.

Nicola Harrison is from England and grew up in California. Hotel Laguna is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)
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3.5 stars

I'm a history teacher, so you'd think I would be a sucker for historical fiction. However, there's something about it that pulls me out of the story - wondering if it's historically accurate and next thing you know, I'm on Google looking it up. So, for a normal person, this is a perfectly lovely WWII romance. For a weirdo like myself, it was a good read, but I struggled to stay in the story. It's me, not you. I swear. 

Thank you St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the digital ARC in return for an honest review.
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A different take on the typical World War 2 novels with this book taking place in Southern California. It was an enjoyable historical beach read.
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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5 Stars

Happy Pub Month to Nicola Harrison and The Bookshop by the Bay! Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Nicola Harrison for allowing me to read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) for an honest review!  This book was published on June 20, 2023.

Hotel Laguna is for fans of historical fiction that are looking for an intriguing but not so intense read. This book was hard for me to put down. I remained curious about what events and adventures were up next for the main character, Hazel Francis.

Hazel Francis, native of Wichita, Kansas, said goodbye to “her guy” as he was leaving for war.  Surprisingly, he proposed. She said yes showing loyalty to their lifelong friendship. Hazel moved in with her fiancé’s mother while awaiting his return from the war but finds herself unhappy and unsettled. 

In 1942, Hazel sees an ad describing how women can support men at war. In turn, she leaves everything in Kansas behind and travels to California determined to find meaning and make a difference. She lands a job with Douglas Aircraft constructing Bombers for the U.S. Military.  She love the work and is quickly labeled a nimble and skilled laborer. A true Rosie the Riveter, indeed!

Hazel’s work contract ends and she is challenged with finding another form of employment. She accepts a job as an assistant to local artist Hanson Radcliff. In many ways, this job is the most adverse and rewarding she’s ever held.

In my opinion, the main theme of the book is love (and loyalty). Hazel’s love for the following is evident throughout: Laguna Beach, her independence, her ability to grow, her newfound confidence, Hanson & the artist community, friends, and history.

I highly recommend bumping this novel to the top of your TBR (which I’m sure is already too long). I promise you won’t regret it!
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Nicola Harrison, the Author of “HOTEL LAGUNA,” has written an intriguing and captivating novel. The genres for this novel are Historical Fiction, World War Two, Romance, and Fiction. This is a well-written and well-researched book. Nicola Harrison vividly describes the scenery in California, the dress code for the times, and the dramatic and colorful characters. The characters are complex, complicated, secretive, creative, and quirky.

In 1942, the story’s protagonist, Hazel Francis, leaves her hometown in Kansas for California to help the war effort. Hazel works on aircraft bombers for the United States Military. She is like “Rosie the Riveter.” Once the war ends and the men return home, Hazel is out of a job. The expectations of the times are that women will be wives and mothers.

Hazel winds up in Laguna Beach and finds work as an “assistant” to a famous artist, Hanson Radcliff, who is talented, temperamental, and eccentric. He has secrets from the past that he regrets. Laguna Beach is known for its artists. There is a pageant held that the community works on. There is the Hotel Laguna, which has a fantastic ocean view, and a handsome bartender who catches Hazel’s eye.

Hazel loves Laguna Beach but also misses working on airplanes. There are decisions for her to make. There is suspense and mystery, betrayals, and secrets. I highly recommend this memorable and thought-provoking novel.
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Following the end of World War II, Hazel finds herself relieved of her duties at the aeroplane factory in favour of the men returning home. Originally from a small town in Kansas, she finds her way to Laguna Beach, where despite the small-town vibes she is offered a certain freedom from expectations and convention.

The book offers an interesting perspective on how for some, a war can mean a certain “freedom” from prejudices or futures. It is unconventional but for women during WWII, they were offered an opportunity to be more than a wife and mother. Hazel never wanted the things that others thought was best for her as a woman and the story explores how Hazel finds freedom in her own life by embracing her own path and making her own choices.

For the first small portion of the novel, the book alternates timelines from when Hazel arrives in Laguna to the past as America enters the war and what leads her to the aeroplane factory. I don;t normally notice when characters slip tenses but it bothered me that we had to jump to the past only for Hazel to offer insight on situations that she couldn’t possibly have unless she was telling it from the present. 

The book features a relationship but it is by no means a romance. Like a lot of the novel, it was a lot of telling instead of showing. For a large portion of it I just didn’t feel anything for the characters until the circumstances themselves generated a bit of empathy. I felt a bit yucky reading the initial encounters between Hazel and Hanson. For me what was supposed to be a portrayal of eccentricity was just downright creepy.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Hotel Laguna is a perfect beach read if you're heading to Southern California. I found the historical fiction side of the story more interesting than the romance side. Harrison gives the reader a new and compelling take on women who came to California to work in airplane production during WWII - and what happened to them after the war ended. The setting is unique and rarely (ever?) written about - Laguna Beach. I love destination novels, especially when I travel, and this book perfectly nails this vibrant artist community. I've always wanted to attend the Pagent of the Masters ( ), and Harrison has inspired me to make it happen.

The romance aspect of the book was less to my liking. Hazel's reactions felt overly dramatic as she grappled with some mystery and revelation about her employer. But I'm not a massive fan of high drama in romances. If you love romances (all open-door in this novel), you'll be less annoyed by the heroine's reactions than I was. 

If you gravitate to WWII historical fiction and want a lighter version for your summer or vacation read - and you like a bit of predictable romance, this book will fit your bill.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an electronic ARC in exchange for a review.
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Overall a really immersive and interesting historical fiction read, Hotel Laguna has a wonderful setting and set of characters. I found myself loving and wanting to read more about her time during the war making airplanes. I wish there had been more focus on her time there. It took awhile for me to really get into her present timeline, which is 1946 in Laguna Beach, California. But I did really love how the book comes together at the end. And all of the characters were really fun and well written. I loved MC Hazel’s perspective. I highly recommend if you’re a fan of historical fiction!
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Building fighter planes for WWII pilots has given Hazel confidence in herself. But as the war ends, Hazel finds herself looking for more rewarding work. She finds work with an aging artist in Laguna Beach which may be just what she has been looking for.
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This novel has an unusual approach to its take on WWII because we only see it from the home front with women working and what happens to those women after the war ends and they no longer have the job that made them fulfilled. Catching up with our main character at the Hotel Laguna, it only unravels slowly that this young woman was orphaned and came west with no real plan except to get a job at the Douglas Aircraft Factory.

Without a home to return to,  Hazel wants to create a life in California instead of returning to Witchita. She quickly finds a job with an aging but well-known painter who has a secret from his past he doesn't want to talk about. Along the way Hazel makes friends with Jimmy, one of the hotel bartenders, a starlet, another artist and other people from the community.

The community folks are involved with an annual festival, put on hiatus during the war, which depicts great works of art in a type of tableau.  

This definitely kept me reading. I wanted to learn how Hazel would deal with her changing future and the story really paid off!
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Hazel has worked for Douglas Aircraft since she has left Kansas. Now that the war is over, she has lost her job. She takes a leap of faith and ends up in a town of Laguna Beach. She is going to be the assistant to a famous artist there, Hanson Radcliff. But, work for Hanson is a bit precarious. He is cantankerous and unpredictable and has a shadow of a scandal following him around.

Hazel is such a fabulous character and so is Hanson! I adored both. But, Hazel is my favorite. She is tough but naïve. And that is what makes her capture your heart. She really struggles to make a go with her new world and she is not afraid to learn or try new things.

I adored how this story unfolded. And don’t let Hanson fool you, he has great talent but he also has a big heart beneath that gruff exterior.

I have been a fan of this author every since I read The Show Girl. And this book rates right up there with it. This author knows how to weave a tale!

The narrator, Carlotta Brentan, is fantastic. She has the perfect tone for these characters, especially Hanson.

Need an all consuming tale…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today.

I received this novel for a honest review.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a feel good, heartwarming story about a young woman in post World War II California.  Hazel Francis leaves Kansas in 1942 to work for Douglas Aircraft in airplane production, a extremely hard job that she grows to love and becomes quite proficient in various positions in the company, after the war is over she loses her job and decides to stay in California and she makes her way to Laguna Beach.  Hazel finds a job as an assistant to an eccentric artist, and encounters some other new people in this community, as she begins to make an enjoyable life  for herself. The story focuses on Hazel and her adventures with these various people.  The story comes together at the end with a pleasant ending, and you will be rooting for Hazel and her resiliency throughout this book.
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