Author: Nicola Harrison
Published by: St. Martin's Press on Jun. 20, 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction
Source: St. Martin's Press
Book Rating: 8.5/10
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.
Nostalgic, romantic, and intriguing!
Hotel Laguna is a vivid, compelling tale that takes you into the life of Hazel Francis, an independent young woman who, after moving from Kansas to California to help in the war effort, finds herself settling in the artsy city of Laguna Beach after the war ends working as a girl Friday for the temperamental, eccentric Hanson Radcliff and developing a budding attraction for Jimmy, the handsome, helpful bartender at the Hotel Laguna.
The prose is rich and sentimental. The characters are complex, talented, and kind. And the plot is an engaging tale about life, loss, friendship, determination, kindness, romance, happiness, self-discovery, and community.
Overall, Hotel Laguna is a sweet, tender, delightful summer read by Harrison, complete with strong, endearing characters, a touching storyline, and an insightful look into life in 1940s California.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.