Verdict: LAGUNA NIGHTS offers a comfortably familiar type of romance in a lovely setting, well-suited to a casual summer read.
Former high school sweethearts and ex-reality TV stars are reunited in Laguna Beach, CA.
When Madison starred in the reality TV show “Laguna Nights” as a teenager, the whole world got to watch as her boyfriend Josh cheated on her. Years later she is back home, caring for her ailing mother and pursuing a career in hotel management, when Josh suddenly walks into her workplace and back into her life. He’s in town to shoot a new TV show that he hopes will revive his failing acting career. They may be able to reconcile and even find a new beginning, but with the cameras rolling once more it certainly won’t be easy.
There could not be a better setting for a summer read than Laguna Beach, California. Even though the events of LAGUNA NIGHTS take place in February, this beautiful seaside community provides a backdrop of sun, surf and sand and grounds the story in a real place and time. A little too much so, perhaps; any watcher of MTV programming in the mid-2000s will instantly recognize the idea of a reality TV show that follows high school students in Laguna Beach. The references to real people and events are often barely even disguised, down to naming MTV as the channel that produced the fictional “Laguna Nights” and making the lyrics to the fictional show’s opening theme be ever-so-slightly modified lyrics of the real-life show. Though, readers may not realize this (or care), and it’s certainly understandable that an author would want to mine such a rich source of conflict, this doesn’t help to establish the novel as a completely original work of fiction.
However, this novel does have the familiar patterns and types are often more important to a romance than originality. Josh is the “bad boy” who feels motivated to change his ways; Madison is the “good girl done wrong” who endlessly questions her own conflicted emotions. There are shady Hollywood dealings, reality show drama, and even some serious contemplation about the nature of fame and forgiveness as the story chugs along to its inevitable conclusion.
LAGUNA NIGHTS offers a comfortably familiar type of romance in a lovely setting, well-suited to a casual summer read.