by Nicola Harrison
Hazel Francis leaves her hometown of Witchita, Kansas after her fiancee enliststs in WWII. Her parents have both died and she doesnit have any reason to stay in Witchita and she doesn’t really want to be engaged. When she hears that they are hiring women in the airplane factory to replace the men who have gone off to war, Hazel heads to sunny California to help with the war effort. She gets hired and loves her job as a riveter working on airplanes. However, when the men return from war, the women are out of work because their jobs are given back to the men. She is told to go home, get married and have babies but Hazel isn’t interested in that right now.
With her meager savings she heads to Laguna Beach to look for work. She is befriended by Jimmy, a bartende at the Laguna Beach Hotel, who lets her sleep in the bar until she can find a place to stay. She is hired by Hanson Radcliff, a famous Laguna Beach artist to be his model and assistant. Hanson has deep roots in the artist’s community in Laguna Beach but he is difficult, moody and crabby. He gives Hazel a small place to stay while she works for him as long as she also helps out in the art gallery. Hazel is determined to make the best of his cantankerou nature and keep her job because she loves the ocean and the town and is welcomed into this artistic community. She begins to feel like she has found a permanent home at last. However, she begins to hear rumors about Hanson being involved in a famous movie star’s death. No one wants to talk about it because he is such a benefactor to the community. Hanson apparently painted a portrait of her that has disappeared and would be worth a fortune if it can be found. Hazel is determined to uncover the mystery of the painting and Hanson’s involvement with the movie star. He surely isn’t a killer, is he?
I really enjoyed Hotel Laguna, the setting and the artistic community. Hazel is a strong independent, feisty young woman and the other characters are well defined, too. If you like historical fiction with a touch of romance, a bit of a mystery and a beautiful artistic beach setting , you will like Hotel Laguna. This was the first book I have read by Nicola H.arrison and I look forward to reading some of her earlier works. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the advanced reading copy. Look for it on June 20th!
You can pre-order or purchase Hotel Laguna from my Amazon affiliate link.