Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Book Review: Hotel Laguna by Nicola Harrison

Pages: 288
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: June 20, 2023
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Montauk
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads says, "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."


Hazel Francis left her small town behind for California during WWII. She worked at Douglas Aircraft building aircraft for the military, but now that the war is over, so is her job. She is expected to return home. But what about all the women that did not want to return home to the status quo and wanted more for themselves? Well, Hazel is faced with that very problem as she doesn't want to return home, and happens upon Laguna Beach when looking for a new job. Laguna seems so promising with its artistic and boho vibe. Eventually, she does land a job as an assistant to Laguna's most successful artist, Hanson Radcliff. Hanson is mysterious and moody, but locally adored, so naturally Hazel finds him intriguing. As more time passes, Hazel becomes a member of Laguna's community, she finds a possible romance in Jimmy, a bartender, and perhaps her place in a post-WWII war. Nicola Harrison's Hotel Laguna is a solid historical read that highlights the struggles women experienced during this transitional time in America's history.

Hazel is a character you have to respect in
Hotel Laguna. She stepped up to the plate during the war and built aircraft for the military and contributed to such an important cause. However, once the war was over, Hazel, like many American women, was dropped and just expected to return home to their former lives. While I am sure many women did happily, others wanted something else for themselves. Hotel Laguna highlights this struggle through Hazel's experiences post-war. I can't say I've read a book that details how difficult it was for women during the time, so this was a new concept for me and one that I appreciated wholeheartedly. I enjoyed her journey to finding something more for herself, a place in a new community, a possible love, and an unlikely friendship with her boss, Hanson. 

The real star of the show in
Hotel Laguna is Laguna Beach itself. Harrison did a wonderful job bringing it to life. The art show, the artistic community, the bohemian vibe, and the beautiful landscapes were done so well; it made me want to visit one day. If you love a memorable setting in your historical beach reads, look no further.

Hotel Laguna wasn't a stand-out historical beach read, I still enjoyed Hazel's story and how it highlighted postwar America. It was a quick read (less than 300 pages), so it would be perfect for a long weekend at the beach.

Are you a fan of Nicola Harrison? Is
Hotel Laguna on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.



  1. There are so many WWII stories, but not a lot that focus on the post-war period, so that's very interesting!

    1. Yes! So true. This time period was definitely a fresh change from the usual. Thanks for dropping by, Angela.


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