Cover Image: Hotel Laguna

Hotel Laguna

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Member Reviews

Hotel Laguna transported me to the sun-soaked beaches of Southern California post WWII. I found I really had a feel for the time and place -- the language used by the characters called up decades past ("swell!"). Although there is a romantic sub-plot, the bulk of the story is Hazel Francis coming of age post-WWII and really figuring out for herself what she wants out of life. I enjoyed that it wasn't just another predictable romance novel, and had important themes of friendship and community. I really liked the inter-generational friendship between Hazel and the artist, Hanson Radcliff, and wish that storyline had more time to develop (although that may just have stretched out the length of the book unnecessarily).

I feel like this is the kind of historical fiction book my mother would like -- wholesome, engaging, with a fulfilling ending.

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Thank you to Net Galley for the chance to read this story!

This story is California perfection - the reader feels as if they are living in Laguna Beach with Hazel and the cast of characters. It is a feel good post-war story.

While Hazel has her imperfections and still needs to grow quite a bit as a character and person, she recognizes those flaws and wants to work on them. This is a love story, but not just in the main context; this is more of a love story between Hazel and Hanson and their friendship.

It ends a bit predictably, but definitely worth the read. It’s a setting to get lost in, and would make a fun movie. The writing really encourages such visualization along the way.

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This is my second Nicola Harrison book, and what I love is the women she centers in her books. They have unique stories you often don't read, and I find I'm so captivated by how she builds their worlds and adventures. This story focuses on Hazel. Following her time as a "Rosie the Riveter" in Wichita, she heads to California to figure out what's next for her. She finds her way to Laguna Beach working for an artist surrounded with secrets. The book is about Hazel trying to figure out the truth behind his life, but more so, it's about her finding her place in the world. I will say an added special part of this book for me was that my grandma (who I lost this year) worked at an aircraft plant in Wichita. It was special to read a story of someone (even though she was fictional) who could have been right there beside her. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this June 2023 release.

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Hazel was one of the "Rosie the Riveters" and was quite successful at it- moving up the ranks. But when the war ended, she lost that job and was cast adrift. Living in Wichita, Kansas wasn't what she wanted either, so on a whim she took the train out to California. Desperate to find work, she takes on an assistant job under a very eccentric artist, Hanson Radcliff. He has a past that he is hiding from and little by little Hazel is able to help him unearth the tragedy and heal from it.

This one was just okay for me. I overall did enjoy the characters and the story was mostly engaging. I just overall wasn't a fan of Hazel, so it was hard to fully invest in her story. I liked the adjoining characters more than her.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Very interesting read about Post WWII in southern California. I had heard about the role women played in airplane manufacturing during the war and learned a lot in this book about the impact on their lives once the men returned and they lost their jobs. The characters are very well drawn and the focus on the artist community in Laguna Beach was very enlightening. Highly recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

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The setting is beautifully depicted by the author: WWII and hot, sultry California with its breeze. The salty wind blows on my face and cools me off from the scorching heat.
Hazel wanted to help her country and find her place in life outside the kitchen, which was a woman’s place. She did her job fairly well. But she was a woman.
A woman's life is well portrayed, when she suddenly becomes an unnecessary part of a society's production and is forced back to her "female" duties after being a major player. However, Hazel didn't want to give up. Therefore, she moved to Laguna Beach where she could try and achieve her dreams of flying planes, and maybe she would meet her love? Is it Jimmy? This book is the book of many topics: hard work, dreams, friendship and love. There is a wonderful combination of history, characters with emotions, and a delightful plot in this book. I enjoyed this book. It was very delightful.
Maybe she will be able to fly someday?

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“Hotel Laguna” is the latest historical novel by Nicola Harrison.

We meet Hazel who moved to California to work for Douglas Aircraft during the second world war. Unfortunately, after the war as men returned, Hazel, like many women during this time, lost her job. But instead of returning to her Kansas home to marry and raise a family as was expected, she travels to Laguna Beach and finds work as an assistant for a painter.

Hazel is a plucky character with plenty. She isn’t perfect, but it’s because of her flaws that readers will love her. This is a fantastic coming of age story set in an intriguing slice of history where the protagonist goes through ups (and many downs) as she struggles to find herself in a world where women had a very limited voice. I used to live in Southern California but knew nothing about Laguna Beach’s bohemian past as told through the author's colorful narration. .

Thank you to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for my advanced copy.

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Hotel Laguna is a delightful story scattered with some lovable, quirky characters. I have spent some time in picturesque Laguna Beach, and it's one of my favorite towns. The author captures its essence. At the conclusion of this well-written story, I was sorry to say goodbye to all the sweet characters and especially Hazel.

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A young single woman moves to Calfornia to move on from a job helping build new airplanes from World War II. She finds a help wanted article for an artist needing an assistant. She's hesitant at first to do what he asks, I loved the toughness of her character and her "Girls can do it too, but better" attitude. This is an overall good historical read with it's share of villains, coming of age, finding new relationships, and finding a sense of belonging for a girl who at first has no home and no one.

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After reading this historical fiction novel, I’m ready to pack my bags and head to Laguna, California! This story has a bit of everything I love in a book—history, a touch of romance, friendship, kindness, and mystery.

During the war, Hazel built bombers in an airplane factory. She was among the women who stepped up to work—in jobs they never imagined—when men were fighting overseas. Searching for a fulfilling path after the war, Hazel lands in Laguna. Once more, she steps into a job she’d never pictured for herself.

In her spare time, Hazel volunteers with the Pageant of the Masters, a living art festival still in existence today.

Like THE SHOW GIRL, another novel by Ms. Harrison I adored, HOTEL LAGUNA combines a compelling story with an introduction to an experience I knew nothing about. My favorite combination.

And, if readers judge a book by its cover, this one is a winner!

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Nicola Harrison is establishing herself as a top historical fiction writer. The Show Girls was one of my favorite books I've ever read and Hotel Laguna is just as amazing. The story follows Hazel Francis who heads to Laguna Beach after working on airplane assembly in LA during World War II. She begins working for acclaimed artist Hanson Radcliff and becomes immersed in the art world of Laguna Beach.

I felt transported back to the 40s in Hotel Laguna. It was mysterious, beautiful, and such a lovely read. While at points sad, it was also inspiring with a perfect ending.

Highly recommend Hotel Laguna!

Thank you, St. Martins Press and NetGalley for the eARC!
4.5/5 stars

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This was a very enjoyable read. After working for the war effort building airplanes, the women were let go. After feeling needed, many were left adrift. The characters here were well-defined and the plot moved right along. The ending was very satisfying.

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Hotel Laguna will take you back in time (1940s) to sunny California. This is a very enjoyable book with rich descriptions and a plot that will carry you away to a different time and place. The art world during that era provides interesting insight as well as developing relationships/friendships. This book captures the true spirit of each character, and you will remember them long after the last page has been turned. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the privilege of reading a memorable book.

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1942 Hazel Francis leaves Wichita, Kansas and heads to California. There she becomes one of thousands of women known as "Rosie the Riviter" who fill in for the men who went off to war. However, when the war is over these women were no longer needed and were dismissed. Hazel was one of them. Not wanting to go back to Wichita, she remains in California where she answers an ad for an assistant. Accepting the position she is now work for Hanson Radcliff and old artist with a huge secret. She is now his model and to her dismay she models nude for the old man. With no other prospects for work and not wanting to return to Kansas, Hazel reconciles herself to her current life. Laguna is basically an artist's colony and to be sure it is never dull. With no place to stay and little money she accepts an offer from Jimmy, a bartender at the hotel, to stay at the hotel for a few days until she can find a place of her own. Hanson, a gruff, cantankerous person, keeps the secret to himself but there are people who seek that knowledge. As a young girl, Hazel is unsure of herself and often second guesses the choices she's made. It was interesting to watch her come out of her "shell" accepting the friendship of those around her and finally to understand the man she is working for.

I read this book in one day, not being able to put it down. The book was well written, the characters both large and small were very interesting. In all, this made for an enjoyable novel. My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this ARC.

Reviewed on Goodrreads, to be reviewed on Amazon.

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‘Hotel Latina’, is my second book by Nicola Harrison. Ms Harrison tells an easy to follow story of a woman trying to find her place after WWII, and finding her new home in Latina Beach among the many artists. Her characters a relatable and well developed.

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This book felt different than historical fiction I’ve read in the past, but I enjoyed it as much as I have others. Hazel is a young woman who finds her way out to California during WWII and works in a factory to help build planes. When the war is over and women are no longer needed as the men return to work, she finds herself lost trying to figure out what is next. She ends up making her way to Laguna Beach where she becomes an assistant to an artist. Hanson Radcliff is a complicated man, and I found the friendship and familial roles he and Hazel eventually filled for each other very endearing. His struggles were heartbreaking, and I thought it spoke to the kind of woman Hazel was that she found a way to understand him and become a meaningful, bright part of his life. At times I found myself wondering where the story was going with multiple threads trying to tie themselves together, but in the end I thought it was well-crafted and satisfying.

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In 1942, Hazel Francis leaves Kansas for California, fleeing an “accidental” engagement and a marriage she doesn’t want. She lands a job at Douglas Aircraft and surprises herself with the joy she finds in manual labor as a “Rosie the Riveter.” But when the men return from war, women like Hazel lose their positions and are encouraged (strongly) to focus on being wives and mothers.

Hazel, unwilling to give up her independence and the fulfillment she finds in it, struggles to find another job—any job. She ends up in the artsy town of Laguna Beach where she takes the only position she can find--being an assistant to famous artist Hanson Radcliff.

I thoroughly enjoyed camping out in the colorful, laid-back town of Laguna and meeting the artists, dreamers, and Hollywooders who populated it. Hazel’s new relationships—not only with the crusty, moody painter but also with a gentle, dreamy bartender and a couple of scallywags—transform her even more than her factory job did. I loved the author’s portraits of flawed, charismatic characters.

Hotel Laguna brims with themes of love, friendship, transformation, hope, hard work, and creativity. I especially enjoyed learning about the Pageant of the Masters, a real art festival that’s taken place in Laguna Beach for 90 years.

Pick this book up for a lovely getaway to a beautiful California coast drenched in sunshine and stay for a glimpse of lives shaped by war, art, and secrets.

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Hotel Laguna is a light read and will be perfect for summer. It is the story of Hazel Francis, a young woman who after working on warplanes during WWII landed in Laguna, CA looking for a job. She answers an ad for an artist's companion and gets the job working for a famous but curmudgeonly old man who has a bit of mystery surrounding him. She gets involved in her community while trying to solve the mystery and bring her boss some closure. An enjoyable historic novel, especially for those who like this time period.

Thank you to the author, St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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I loved this historical fiction read about Hazel, a midwestern girl who finds herself in Laguna Beach, California after working in a factory to help the war effort during WWII. This book had a little bit of everything, from a look into women’s contributions during the war, to romance, and even a little mystery. The setting was also lovely. Full review will be posted to my socials closer to date of publication

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In 1942, Hazel Francis became one of many “Rosie the Riveters,” helping construct bombers for the U. S. military. But when the war ends, men returned to their factory jobs, and women like Hazel were expected to become wives and mothers.

Unwilling to be forced into a traditional role in the Midwest, Hazel remains on the west coast, and finds herself in the bohemian town of Laguna Beach. Desperate for work and lodging, she accepts a job as an assistant to famous artist and local legend Hanson Radcliff. Her relationship with Radcliff soon becomes fraught when she realizes not only is he an alcoholic but he is living under the shadow of a decades old scandal that still haunts him.

What I liked; Switching between POVs from Hazel working in the factory to her new life in Laguna Beach. I enjoyed reading about the war effort and how women worked jobs in factories. I also love "old hollywood" and there was a touch of that.
What I didn't like; The romance between Hazel and Jimmy was a bit slow. The "scandal" that haunts Radcliff is built up pretty heavily and I thought it was a bit anti climactic.

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