When We Left Cuba
In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life--and heart--to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.Beautiful. Daring. Deadly. The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez--her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future--but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything--not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart...

When We Left Cuba Details

TitleWhen We Left Cuba
Author
ReleaseApr 9th, 2019
PublisherBerkley Books
ISBN-139780451490865
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance

When We Left Cuba Review

  • Miranda Reads
    January 1, 1970
    "I am nothing if not a scandal." Beatriz is one of the Perez daughters - known for their fame and fortune in their homeland, Cuba.But they were forced to flee due to the revolution. And though her family has settled in Florida, and her father is bent on reforming the Perez family fortune, Beatriz cannot help but long for the life she left behind. "They said you ruled like a queen in Havana." Beatriz becomes consumed with the near-impossible goal - to destroy Fidel Castro.But making plans and "I am nothing if not a scandal." Beatriz is one of the Perez daughters - known for their fame and fortune in their homeland, Cuba.But they were forced to flee due to the revolution. And though her family has settled in Florida, and her father is bent on reforming the Perez family fortune, Beatriz cannot help but long for the life she left behind. "They said you ruled like a queen in Havana." Beatriz becomes consumed with the near-impossible goal - to destroy Fidel Castro.But making plans and executing them are two different things. ...you're too young, too pretty, too sheltered to understand the world around you...your worth only lies in you beauty and what they can barter for it." Beatriz manages to find contacts, ones who see eye-to-eye with her aspirations in the United States. She manages to become part of the CIA. "If I don't succeed, then they kill me. I assure you, I'm aware of the stakes. I wouldn't volunteer for this if I wasn't." The Cold War hovers at the edge of the horizon, Castro's power grows ever stronger...Beatriz is set on her path to revenge...and yet...there is a man. A man who is Irritatingly beautiful. A man who exceeds all her expectations, one who is everything she is not and one who represents everything she cannot have. "Because I think of you. Constantly. Because I wonder what it would be like to kiss you. For you to be mine, even for a moment." One false move could cost everything - her country, her love, her life. "It's dangerous, Beatriz.""I know." Wow. I am still reeling!This one has such a different feel from the first novel but was still so enrapturing. I feel like the author really did a fabulous job embodying such a complex character. Beatriz has such a different feel from Marisol/Elise from the first novel.Beatriz (Elise's sister), began as a rich, spoiled girl in the first novel but she grew and developed wonderfully in this novel. She may be high maintenance but she loved her country with all her heart, and was willing to do anything to protect it. She teetered between being fully independent and curling in on herself, wanting to hide from the world.I loved watching the transformation of her character and the way she asserted herself (in a time where such assertions were wholly unexpected). And suddenly, I cannot take it anymore, and I rise... The love story arced beautifully. Normally, I have issue when the love relies on passion and barely suppressed emotions, but Cleeton brings that about realistically. In another life, we might have been magnificent together. I do think that the pacing was a bit slow at times, especially with some of the detours into the intricacies in the Perez sisters' lives...but the imagery does make up for that.Overall, this is more of a companion novel than the sequel I expected - but all in all, I am more than satisfied with this experience. I'm so excited for Cleeton's next novel! With thanks to the author and the publishing company for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review. All quotes come from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication.
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    Political intrigue, history, wanting to know more about Cuba, and a love story were the things that attracted me to this book, as well as the fact that I enjoyed Next Year in Havana . It moved a little slowly at first. I didn’t feel immersed until a third of the way in and then I was taken in. I remembered that Beatriz Perez was Marisol’s great Aunt and Elisa’s sister from the previous book, but I don’t remember much more about her from the first novel. She turns out to be a spirited, independen Political intrigue, history, wanting to know more about Cuba, and a love story were the things that attracted me to this book, as well as the fact that I enjoyed Next Year in Havana . It moved a little slowly at first. I didn’t feel immersed until a third of the way in and then I was taken in. I remembered that Beatriz Perez was Marisol’s great Aunt and Elisa’s sister from the previous book, but I don’t remember much more about her from the first novel. She turns out to be a spirited, independent woman, who seems beyond her time in that she won’t follow her family’s wishes when it comes to a woman’s place in society - “that our parents consider marriage to be the final goal for us, our success ties to the men we catch rather than our own merits.” She follows her own heart, falling in love with a man, already engaged. Motivated by a desire to avenge her brother’s murder before they left Cuba and to avenge her family’s loss of home and fortune, she becomes involved with the CIA and wants to do whatever it takes to kill Castro. In a note , Cleeton says “While the Perez family and their friends are entirely fictional, the events in the novel were inspired by the tumultuous Cuban-American relations in the 1960’s.” She does a great job of depicting historical events of the 1960’s such as The Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missle Crisis and Kennedy’s asassination through the lives of these characters. I have to admit that Beatriz’s involvement in the CIA was a bit much for me at times as I am not a spy thriller reader and there were shades of that here. Having said that, I loved her character and admired her strength and independence. As in the first novel, I felt the author’s connection to the story through her heritage. I loved that the buried box appears here too. An engaging story. This was a Traveling Sisters read. I received an advanced copy of this book from Berkley Books through NetGalley.
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  • Susanne Strong
    January 1, 1970
    4.75 Intriguing and Suspenseful Stars!Beatriz Perez wants nothing more than to return to Cuba. Having been exiled to Florida after the Cuban Revolution is not what she had in mind. She has no interest in being a debutante like her sisters, nor does she have any interest in marriage. For Beatriz, the loss of her twin brother Alejandro, is excruciating thus all she wants is revenge. When the CIA recruits her as a spy, she jumps at the chance hoping that she can make Castro pay. What Beatriz doesn’ 4.75 Intriguing and Suspenseful Stars!Beatriz Perez wants nothing more than to return to Cuba. Having been exiled to Florida after the Cuban Revolution is not what she had in mind. She has no interest in being a debutante like her sisters, nor does she have any interest in marriage. For Beatriz, the loss of her twin brother Alejandro, is excruciating thus all she wants is revenge. When the CIA recruits her as a spy, she jumps at the chance hoping that she can make Castro pay. What Beatriz doesn’t count on, is meeting Nick, who captures every fiber of her being, and whose life is the exact opposite of hers. How will Beatriz’s need for revenge coincide with her need for a man she can’t get enough of? “When We Left Cuba” captured my attention from the very first. Beatriz is both brilliant and hilarious, as well as bold and fearless. She will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. I liked her immediately and got wrapped up in this spy game, as well as the story of family, love, intrigue and vengeance. While I loved the character of Beatriz, I adored the character of Eduardo as well and would love to find out more about him one of these days (hint hint)!“When We Left Cuba” is the second book in the Perez family series by Chanel Cleeton, with “Next Year in Havana” being the first. While I liked “Next Year in Havana” - I absolutely LOVE Beatriz Perez’s story. I found her to be compelling, funny, intelligent and sassy. Perhaps it is her independence or her ability to face danger so willingly, whatever it is about her, it grabbed me. Here, Chanel Cleeton does an incredible job intertwining Cuban History with American History all the while creating a suspenseful, romantic read. I highly recommend this to fans of historical fiction and those who love reading a good espionage story. Kudos also to Ms. Cleeton for the gorgeous cover! What a way to draw readers in.A huge thank you to Elisha at Berkley Publishing Group and to Chanel Cleeton for a galley of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Published on Goodreads on 12.11.18.Will be published on Amazon and Twitter on release date.Excerpt to be published on Instagram.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    A stunning and intriguing follow-up! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Beatriz Perez lost everything during the Cuban Revolution, including her family and her home, her beloved Cuba. The CIA recruits her to get close to Fidel Castro and his comrades. Now a spy, Beatriz is thirsty with revenge for all she’s lost. The Cold War is in full swing when Beatriz finds herself in love with power hungry man; a clandestine affair, and she knows it. Beatriz comes to a crossroads where she must choose between everything she holds dea A stunning and intriguing follow-up! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Beatriz Perez lost everything during the Cuban Revolution, including her family and her home, her beloved Cuba. The CIA recruits her to get close to Fidel Castro and his comrades. Now a spy, Beatriz is thirsty with revenge for all she’s lost. The Cold War is in full swing when Beatriz finds herself in love with power hungry man; a clandestine affair, and she knows it. Beatriz comes to a crossroads where she must choose between everything she holds dear from her past and her hopeful, possibly steadfast future. Can she let Cuba go? When We Left Cuba is full of unexpected intrigue! I was on the edge of my seat with worry about Beatriz. One of the strongest aspects of the novel is its sense of time and place. Be prepared to be transported because you will be whisked away. The historical aspects are strong as well and seamlessly woven in. Of course, I have to mention the romance, which successfully amped up the suspense. Overall, When We Left Cuba is a formidable woman’s story of moving beyond a tragedy and seeking revenge but also balancing her desire for love at the same time. Will love or vengeance be the victor here?I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • Holly B
    January 1, 1970
    Beatriz Perez lives in exile in Palm Beach, Florida with her family, but Cuba forever lives in her heart. The family fled during the Cuban Revolution and they lost their family home and successful sugar field business. They are safe, but Beatriz has anger and revenge on her mind.  She isn't one to forget the past.Beatriz as a strong, independent and beautiful young woman and is known for catching the eye of many and is known to  collect marriage proposals .She is approached by the CIA and agree Beatriz Perez lives in exile in Palm Beach, Florida with her family, but Cuba forever lives in her heart. The family fled during the Cuban Revolution and they lost their family home and successful sugar field business. They are safe, but Beatriz has anger and revenge on her mind.  She isn't one to forget the past.Beatriz as a strong, independent and beautiful young woman and is known for catching the eye of many and is known to  collect marriage proposals .She is approached by the CIA and agrees to help them, but she is a not a trained spy.  Things could easily go wrong.  Has she gotten in over her head? Could she possibly turn the head of  Fidel Castro or catch his eye?  Many believe she can.Some cliff-hanger chapters steeped in suspense, a politically flavored romance and plenty of historic details made this one easy to pick up and hard to put down.Recommend to fans of Cleeton's debut novel, Next Year in Havana and those who enjoy historical fiction with a bit of glamour and suspense. Thank you Berkley and NG for my review copy! Out on April 9,2019
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars, rounded up When We Left Cuba picks up in time after Next Year in Havana. The Perez family, part of the Cuban sugar aristocracy, has landed in Palm Beach after the Cuban Revolution. Once again, Cleeton does a great job of combining an engaging story with a real feel for the time and place. This is historical fiction done right. Cleeton knows how to weave historic facts into the story in a seamless manner. This sequel focuses on a different Perez daughter. Driven by revenge, Beatriz Per 4.5 stars, rounded up When We Left Cuba picks up in time after Next Year in Havana. The Perez family, part of the Cuban sugar aristocracy, has landed in Palm Beach after the Cuban Revolution. Once again, Cleeton does a great job of combining an engaging story with a real feel for the time and place. This is historical fiction done right. Cleeton knows how to weave historic facts into the story in a seamless manner. This sequel focuses on a different Perez daughter. Driven by revenge, Beatriz Perez makes contact with the CIA in an effort to return to Cuba and assassinate Castro. "It's strange to realize someone is your nemesis, and yet to them, you are little more than a faint murmur in the background of their lives."NYIH employed the two storyline, dual time frame approach. Here, it's a single story, straightforward approach, which I prefer. And while there is romance, it is not the whole story, far from it. We get politics, espionage, family and social issues as well.Beatriz is a fully formed character. Young, but in some ways an old soul because of what she has lived through. Although having written that, at times her recklessness made her age very much apparent. The two men in her life, Nick and Eduardo, were equally well formed and interesting, diverse characters.I loved NYIH, but I think I preferred this book.My thanks to netgalley and Berkley Books for an advance copy of this novel.
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  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
    January 1, 1970
    EEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhh. Not really sure how to rate this one as it just.. wasn't what I expected it to be? Which I guess is my fault. I went in wanting more romance but this was definitely more about espionage and like.. spy stuff? It wasn't a bad book, but it was just not my cup of tea.
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  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsI always find there is nothing better than reading a book that connects you to a time you so well remember. Such was the case in this wonderfully written story that Chancel Cleeton constructed for her readers. This story takes us into the life and times of Beatriz Perez, a strong willed, beautiful, independent woman who possesses great love and feelings for her native land. Her wish is to see Cuba become the place of beauty, family, and one that her memories so want it to be. However, 4.5 starsI always find there is nothing better than reading a book that connects you to a time you so well remember. Such was the case in this wonderfully written story that Chancel Cleeton constructed for her readers. This story takes us into the life and times of Beatriz Perez, a strong willed, beautiful, independent woman who possesses great love and feelings for her native land. Her wish is to see Cuba become the place of beauty, family, and one that her memories so want it to be. However, this is the time of the advent of Castro, coming into power after the tyrannical reign of Baptiste. Beatriz wants to go home again, but the times thwart her heart's desire. She is beautiful, desired by many men, but she falls in love with a "Kennedyesque" senator, and their relationship, though loving and torrid for the times, only seems to be able to bring Beatriz pain, longing, and loneliness. Recruited by the CIA, she is determined to fight for her Cuba in any way she can even to the ultimate of murder and death. Her life becomes one of clandestine times with the Senator and plotting for the overthrow of Castro.One can not help but admire Beatriz as she is driven to try and recapture what was once hers and her family's. This story was told with the backdrop of the times, Kennedy as President, the Bay of Pigs failed attempt, the plight of the Cuban people both here and in Cuba, and the Missile crisis added such relevance and poignancy to this book. It was a time I so remember as the threat of nuclear destruction hung about our days and made the news reels each night scaring those who watched. Chancel Cleeton did a most admirable job weaving the story infused with so much historical significance with the life of Beatriz. I recommend this story most highly for its authenticity and its ability to present so well the wonderful ability of strength and resilience that so many woman of that time possessed. A special thanks to Susanne who sent this book to me after I mentioned I so wanted to read it.
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  • Berit☀️✨
    January 1, 1970
    An exceptional story about an extraordinary woman! A book rich with love and steeped in history! Beatriz Perez my queen! There was something about Beatriz that completely captured my heart from the very first page of this book. She was a smart, strong, and sassy woman with an unbreakable spirit and an unstoppable independence. This is a follow-up of sorts to, “Next Year in Havana”, although I’d say you could read this book independently. We do meet Beatriz in the first book (it is the story of h An exceptional story about an extraordinary woman! A book rich with love and steeped in history! Beatriz Perez my queen! There was something about Beatriz that completely captured my heart from the very first page of this book. She was a smart, strong, and sassy woman with an unbreakable spirit and an unstoppable independence. This is a follow-up of sorts to, “Next Year in Havana”, although I’d say you could read this book independently. We do meet Beatriz in the first book (it is the story of her sister Elisa) however Beatrix is on the periphery of that story. Both books are exquisite, however I have to admit I like this book a teeny bit more. Beatrix might live in the US now, but her heart is still in Cuba. Her family was exiled to the US after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba. Beatriz was the privileged daughter of a sugar barren, she lived a glamorous life filled with parties and glitz. Then her life was turned upside down, she lost her twin brother during the uprise, her family loses all their wealth, and her family is sent away from the land that they loved. Beatrix now has to start over in a new country. Consumed with revenge and a desire to return “home“ she finds herself entangled with the CIA. She also meets a man. A man who is off-limits, A man who will completely capture and consume her. We experience the US Cuba relationship during the 1960s through the pages of this book. We see the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the JFK assassination through Beatrix’s eyes. This book is a true love story, A woman’s love for a country and a man. Chanel Cleeton’s vivid writing will transport you to the 1960s. The feel and the fear at the beginning of the Cold War seeps through the pages. The historical aspects of this book are compelling, but I have to say the romance wormed its way into my heart. Beatrix Nick’s Love story was so raw, I really can’t think of any other word to describe it. A forbidden love that broke them both and then built them up again. it’s all about Fate and timing and all that. This was a spellbinding story packed with romance and history rat in a cloak of intrigue! Unequivocally recommend!*** many thanks to Berkley for my copy of this book ***
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  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    If you enjoyed the historical fiction novel, Next Year in Havana, you'll want to check this one out as it features Beatriz Perez. I'm so glad the author decided to write a book about her because she's a fascinating character. Really liked this one as it had a little bit of everything including romance, espionage, and family drama. While this book could be read as standalone novel, I highly recommend checking out the previous book so you can get a better understanding of not just Beatriz but also If you enjoyed the historical fiction novel, Next Year in Havana, you'll want to check this one out as it features Beatriz Perez. I'm so glad the author decided to write a book about her because she's a fascinating character. Really liked this one as it had a little bit of everything including romance, espionage, and family drama. While this book could be read as standalone novel, I highly recommend checking out the previous book so you can get a better understanding of not just Beatriz but also her family and everything that took place in Cuba.It's the 1960s and Beatriz and the Perez family are living in Florida after the Cuban Revolution forced them to leave everything behind in Cuba. Beatriz has a lot of anger towards the man responsible for all of the turmoil in her home country, Fidel Castro, and so she agrees to work as a spy for the CIA and infiltrate Castro's inner circle. She soon gets quite an education on the dirty side of politics for both countries and also manages to get caught up in a forbidden love affair. It's fair to say she will be forced to make a lot of tough choices, some with lasting consequences. I was slightly worried before reading this that it was going to read too much like a spy novel, which isn't really my thing. However, while Beatriz working for the CIA is definitely part of the story, there are other facets of her life that are explored as well. Overall there really was a nice balance to the story. I was drawn the most to Beatriz and her love life but I also enjoyed learning some of the historical facts regarding what was going on between Cuba and the United States during this time. It was also nice to revisit characters from the previous book. Definitely an enjoyable read and I would love to see the author continue on with featuring Perez family members in future books. Thank you to First to Read for the free advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
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  • Norma * Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    Intriguing, suspenseful, glamorous & magnetic!WHEN WE LEFT CUBA by CHANEL CLEETON is an engaging, fascinating, entertaining, beautifully crafted and rich historical fiction novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was immediately drawn into our main characters life, Beatriz Perez and loved the romantic & adventurous journey that this book took me on. The author’s passion and knowledge definitely shines through tenfold and where some of the content was missed by me I totally appreciated learnin Intriguing, suspenseful, glamorous & magnetic!WHEN WE LEFT CUBA by CHANEL CLEETON is an engaging, fascinating, entertaining, beautifully crafted and rich historical fiction novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was immediately drawn into our main characters life, Beatriz Perez and loved the romantic & adventurous journey that this book took me on. The author’s passion and knowledge definitely shines through tenfold and where some of the content was missed by me I totally appreciated learning about this part of Cuban and American history.I didn’t have the pleasure of reading and visiting the Perez family in the NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA before reading this novel WHEN WE LEFT CUBA. And normally I tend to shy away from reading follow-up books out of sequence order because it somehow makes me feel like I’m missing out or cheating the “system”. So with that being said I am definitely going to revisit the Perez family again but in the meantime I am so glad that I put all of my feelings aside and dove right into this fabulously written romantic & dashing tale of espionage, revenge, love, & family drama. Even though this is a follow-up and some of the characters are revisited here this is Beatriz’s story and definitely works and reads well as a standalone.This was a Traveling Sisters group read.Norma’s Stats:Cover: Strikingly beautiful, glamorous, gorgeous, appealing and a fitting representation to storyline. Love the cover art!Title: Intriguing, fascinating, powerful and a wonderful representation to storyline. Writing/Prose: Beautifully written, passionate, knowledgeable, fluid, engaging and entertaining. Absolutely loved the writing style!Plot: Intriguing, informative, fascinating, thought-provoking, fast-paced, atmospheric and entertaining.Ending: A pat and happy ending that was very satisfying and pleasing. I have a fondness for Epilogues! Overall: A fun, tense and exciting read with fabulous characters filled with rich historical content. Would highly recommend! Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing and Chanel Cleeton for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book in exchange for a review.Review can also be found on our blog:https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com
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  • DJ Sakata
    January 1, 1970
    Favorite Quotes:War has a way of sanding down your virtue.I reenact my own Cinderella routine sans the discarded pump. If Cinderella had paid what I did for these shoes, she’d have made sure she left the ball with both, too.If I’m going to have regrets in this life, I’d rather them be for the chances I took and not the opportunities I let slip away.The line between villain and hero is whisper thin, and, very frequently, a matter of perspective. Gray, Miss Perez. We operate in the gray.My Review: Favorite Quotes:War has a way of sanding down your virtue.I reenact my own Cinderella routine sans the discarded pump. If Cinderella had paid what I did for these shoes, she’d have made sure she left the ball with both, too.If I’m going to have regrets in this life, I’d rather them be for the chances I took and not the opportunities I let slip away.The line between villain and hero is whisper thin, and, very frequently, a matter of perspective. Gray, Miss Perez. We operate in the gray.My Review:I was completely sucked into Ms. Cleeton’s well-crafted and deftly written cloak and dagger vortex as I zigzagged the globe while she brilliantly unfolded her impressive tale of Beatriz Perez, Cuban femme fatale. Her captivating storylines sparkled with intrigue, betrayals, passion, family drama, an epic love, patriotism, scandal, and tropical heat. The engaging plot was quickly paced and highly eventful while blending fact and fiction with stunning agility in an informative yet entertaining and evocative manner. Ms. Cleeton’s writing activated a long forgotten grade school memory flash of participating in those ridiculous duck and cover drills and being reprimanded for giggling while sitting under my desk. And I am proud to exclaim I finally, yes finally, have a grasp on the atrocity of the Bay of Pigs and the disgraceful betrayals of the US government that caused such butchery, which is nothing new and probably even worse now, yet still, so disheartening. The 60s really were a mess!
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  • Bkwmlee
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsIn her first book about the Perez family, Next Year in Havana , author Chanel Cleeton had introduced us to Beatriz Perez, Marisol Ferrara’s great-aunt and also older sister to Elisa Perez. Even though the focus of that story was on Marisol and Elisa, with Beatriz playing only a supporting role, I still remember quite vividly Beatriz’s strong, spirited, defiant personality – in fact, she was one of my favorite characters from that story so of course, I was absolutely ecstatic to learn t 4.5 starsIn her first book about the Perez family, Next Year in Havana , author Chanel Cleeton had introduced us to Beatriz Perez, Marisol Ferrara’s great-aunt and also older sister to Elisa Perez. Even though the focus of that story was on Marisol and Elisa, with Beatriz playing only a supporting role, I still remember quite vividly Beatriz’s strong, spirited, defiant personality – in fact, she was one of my favorite characters from that story so of course, I was absolutely ecstatic to learn that Cleeton’s next novel, When We Left Cuba , would essentially be Beatriz’s story. While Next Year in Havana was set primarily in Cuba and focused on the time period of the revolution in which president Batista was ousted and Fidel Castro took power, When We Left Cuba is set primarily in the United States and focuses on the aftermath of the revolution, the Cuban exiles living in Florida and their fight to reclaim Cuba, as well as the island’s relationship with the rest of the world under Castro’s leadership. In addition, this story touched on elements that we would normally find in a spy thriller, as Beatriz becomes involved with the CIA and goes on a few secret missions for them with the goal of killing Castro in order to avenge the death of her twin brother Alejandro and the loss of her family’s home and fortunes. Story-wise, there was a lot at play here –politics, history (both Cuban history as well as American), romance, espionage, family, culture, etc. – plus quite a few characters, both ones we were introduced to in the previous story as well as new ones, yet not once did I feel overwhelmed by everything that was going on – rather, I was captivated by the story and couldn’t put the book down once I started reading it. I’m usually not a reader of spy/espionage-themed stories and more often than not, I also don’t take well to stories heavy on American politics, but this book defied my expectations in this area -- both of these themes were incorporated extremely well, to the point that they didn’t overpower the story, which I absolutely appreciated.One of the biggest draws to this book for me was the character of Beatriz Perez herself – a wonderfully written character who was at once complex, intriguing, and absolutely unforgettable. I loved her sassiness, her independent spirit, her boldness in following her heart and not caring what others thought of her or her actions, her open defiance of convention and refusal to conform to what society and her parents expected of her (which was to marry someone rich and well-connected, have children, and fade into the role of demure housewife). Beautiful, smart, funny, willful, and headstrong, Beatriz was the type of person who wanted to be recognized and respected for her own merits, who valued her own independence and freedom and making her own way in the world, who wanted to shape her own destiny and not be a woman needing to be “taken care of” by a man or whose worth in the world could only be defined by the merits and achievements of her significant other. At the same time, she was also a woman who knew how to love passionately, fearlessly, boldly, devotedly, yet still be able to approach the same relationship with pragmatism and discernment. In her Author’s Note, Cleeton mentioned that after introducing Beatriz’s character in Next Year in Havana , she had to stop halfway through drafting that novel in order to write the first chapter of this book because Beatriz’s story “was pushing its way out, demanding to be told” – that’s exactly how I felt about Beatriz even before I started reading her story!Once again, Cleeton does a fantastic job of seamlessly melding historical events with a captivating story while at the same time giving us beautifully drawn, imperfect characters whom we can’t help falling in love with as the story progresses. While it’s not required to have read the first novel in order to appreciate this one, I would still recommend reading Next Year in Havana prior to going into this one because of the background it provides in terms of the Perez family and what happened to them during the revolution in Cuba. I enjoyed revisiting some of the characters from the previous story and also seeing how perfectly the timelines from both stories aligned. I’m not sure if Cleeton’s next historical novel (which, according to the note at the back of this book, is scheduled to come out in Winter 2020) will also be about the Perez family, but even if it’s not, given how much I loved her last 2 novels, no doubt I am still highly anticipating its release. Historical fiction fans definitely should pick both of these novels up, especially those who are interested in better understanding Cuban history and its role on the world stage.Received ARC from Berkley Books via Penguin First to Read program
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  • Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth
    January 1, 1970
    READ MY REVIEW ON THE BLOGTITLE: When We Left CubaAUTHOR: Chanel Cleeton GENRE: Historical Fiction, Women's FictionRATING: ✭✭✭CLIFFHANGER: NoNEXT YEAR IN HAVANA was one of my favorite books last year. The promise of Beatriz being a fantastic heroine was the proverbial dangling carrot and I was looking forward to reading her story.Alas, WHEN WE LEFT CUBA didn't work as well for me.Not gonna lie, cheating isn't something I'm comfortable with. It's not necessarily a deal breaker if I can make se READ MY REVIEW ON THE BLOGTITLE: When We Left CubaAUTHOR: Chanel Cleeton GENRE: Historical Fiction, Women's FictionRATING: ✭✭✭CLIFFHANGER: NoNEXT YEAR IN HAVANA was one of my favorite books last year. The promise of Beatriz being a fantastic heroine was the proverbial dangling carrot and I was looking forward to reading her story.Alas, WHEN WE LEFT CUBA didn't work as well for me.Not gonna lie, cheating isn't something I'm comfortable with. It's not necessarily a deal breaker if I can make sense of it. Nick and Beatriz meet at his engagement party and a while after that they start an affair. In my opinion it was unnecessary to give their relationship an illicit character. When Nick mentioned earlier affairs I had a bit of a rough time to summon understanding. So Beatriz was the last in a row of mistresses? At least that's what it felt like at first. Nick totally made up for it. “Will you dance with me, Beatriz Perez, kisser-of-revolutionaries and thief-of-hearts?” But here is my next dilemma and it's something that definitely brought my rating down. I always felt that their love was never balanced, that Nick loved Beatriz more than she loved him, that he made sacrifices for her but she always put her country first. Maybe an admirable feat for a young woman but I'm a romantic at heart and Nick loved her beyond reason - I just wished that she had made sacrifices too. Their fights in the last 20% of the book made her look like a defiant child who didn't get what she wanted: for the US to abandon all other issues to help Cuba.Finally - Nick was 37 when they first met. So by the time Fidel died he was 93 and Beatriz 78. Honestly, I wasn't very thrilled with their reunion at that point. That is not to say that it wasn't emotional and beautiful...it was, and my throat closed up with tears on the last chapter...but seriously, he was already with one foot out of the door...it just felt a little too bitter to be sweet. It wasn't necessary to make him this old when they met.One last niggle before I come to the good stuff: I loved the history in Next Year in Havana but this time there was a lot of excessive politics. Yes, the history was fascinating but the political events in that depth really slowed the first half down.Now, I know this doesn't sound super promising but what you get in this book is a strong-willed, independent, charismatic, ambitious heroine who does everything for the country she loves and to avenge her brother's death. “Why does everyone assume I want marriage? That if I’m not someone’s wife, I’m not worth anything.” “It’s not about marriage. You shouldn’t be anyone’s second choice. Don’t you want to be someone’s first choice?” “I don’t want to be anyone’s choice. I want them to be mine.” She fights the constraints her family places on her, her mother's constant nagging to find a suitable husband. She breaks with convention, however, she doesn't need a husband to validate her and it's what makes her stand out as a heroine. She's a truly emancipated young woman. Beatriz loves Nick undeniably and although I felt that he loved her more I still felt that her love for him was one for the ages.Nick turned out to be one of the typical Chanel Cleeton heroes: swoonworthy, sweet and completely devoted to Beatriz. His love had a desperation about it because he knew Beatriz loved her freedom above all else and who could blame her after what she and her family endured in Cuba? “You asked me about the future I envision. What does your future look like?” “You.” I fell in love with Nick but this isn't romance and I had to keep reminding me of that fact. The timing for their relationship was just always off and their divergent ambitions in the way.WHEN WE LEFT CUBA has a little of everything: glamour of high society in the 60s, a little bit romance, a history lesson that takes you through major events of the 60s, an espionage plot and, if you will, some sort of happy ending. I felt connected to Beatriz and Nick and felt the Zeitgeist of the era. It didn't leave me as satisfied as the first book but it still made for an intriguing read. If any of that sounds like something you enjoy, Chanel Cleeton is definitely a good choice.
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  • Warda
    January 1, 1970
    I was gifted with an arc from the publisher! THANK YOU! I can't WAIT to read it this month.Next Year in Havana became one of my favourite reads this year and I'm super intrigued to see how this story, following the sister Beatriz, will be like.-------------------One of my most anticipated books! From what I’ve gathered in ‘Next Year in Havana’, Beatriz is going to kick some major ass in this book.
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    When We Left Cuba picks up a couple of years after Next Year in Havana and tells the story of Beatriz Perez. Beatriz is a beautiful, strong woman trying to buck the societal norms for women of the time. Beatriz is focused on avenging her twin brother's murder and she won't let anything or anyone stand in her way. Last year, I read Next Year in Havana and couldn't wait for this book. Chanel Cleeton has written an intriguing story with yet another memorable character. When We Left Cuba was one of When We Left Cuba picks up a couple of years after Next Year in Havana and tells the story of Beatriz Perez. Beatriz is a beautiful, strong woman trying to buck the societal norms for women of the time. Beatriz is focused on avenging her twin brother's murder and she won't let anything or anyone stand in her way. Last year, I read Next Year in Havana and couldn't wait for this book. Chanel Cleeton has written an intriguing story with yet another memorable character. When We Left Cuba was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and it far surpassed my expectations!
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  • Cindy Burnett
    January 1, 1970
    When We Left Cuba is a solid follow up to Cleeton’s last novel, Next Year in Havana. This book focuses on Beatriz Perez and her desire for revenge against Fidel Castro and his cronies who forced her family to leave Cuba. There is a greater focus on Beatriz’s love life and politics in this novel and less on Cuba and its culture and history. My favorite part of Next Year in Havana was absorbing details regarding the food and environs of Cuba and the history that led to Batiste’s downfall. However When We Left Cuba is a solid follow up to Cleeton’s last novel, Next Year in Havana. This book focuses on Beatriz Perez and her desire for revenge against Fidel Castro and his cronies who forced her family to leave Cuba. There is a greater focus on Beatriz’s love life and politics in this novel and less on Cuba and its culture and history. My favorite part of Next Year in Havana was absorbing details regarding the food and environs of Cuba and the history that led to Batiste’s downfall. However in this book, I did enjoy learning more about the United States’ involvement in trying to topple Castro. Cleeton continues to bring the Perez family to life and to focus on Cuba and the role other countries have played in its development. I look forward to her next book.
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  • Kate Quinn
    January 1, 1970
    Chanel Cleeton follows the spectacular success of NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA with the sure-to-soar WHEN WE LEFT CUBA, continuing the saga of the exiled Perez sisters. Bold, unconventional Beatriz makes a heroine for the ages, burning to avenge her losses, aid her homeland, and carve out a more independent role for herself than the conventional marriage and motherhood expected by her family. A charismatic American senator offers Beatriz the chance of love in a new home, but a shadowy CIA spy holds out t Chanel Cleeton follows the spectacular success of NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA with the sure-to-soar WHEN WE LEFT CUBA, continuing the saga of the exiled Perez sisters. Bold, unconventional Beatriz makes a heroine for the ages, burning to avenge her losses, aid her homeland, and carve out a more independent role for herself than the conventional marriage and motherhood expected by her family. A charismatic American senator offers Beatriz the chance of love in a new home, but a shadowy CIA spy holds out the possibility of molding Cuba's future, and Beatriz's choice will resound through the ages. A thrilling, thought-provoking read.
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  • myra
    January 1, 1970
    When We Left Cuba was good but not as good is I expected it to be since this book got really good reviews. -I liked the first half of the book but the other half was boring, or i just wasn’t interested anymore.
  • Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
    January 1, 1970
    Beatriz Perez and her family are living in Florida after fleeing The Cuban Revolution. They are all acclimating to their simple lifestyle after growing up with wealth and privilege. Her father suffered a big financial loss when his land was seized and is currently trying to rebuild his sugar empire. Beatriz yearns for her old life back in Cuba and seeks revenge for her brother’s death at the hands of Fidel Castro.Acting as a spy for the CIA, Beatriz is willing to take chances to bring on the dea Beatriz Perez and her family are living in Florida after fleeing The Cuban Revolution. They are all acclimating to their simple lifestyle after growing up with wealth and privilege. Her father suffered a big financial loss when his land was seized and is currently trying to rebuild his sugar empire. Beatriz yearns for her old life back in Cuba and seeks revenge for her brother’s death at the hands of Fidel Castro.Acting as a spy for the CIA, Beatriz is willing to take chances to bring on the death of Castro. Her missions are dangerous but Beatriz is willing to sacrifice anything to get her back to her beloved homeland. She meets an ambitious US Senator and romantic sparks fly. Their relationship is not beneficial to either of their careers and his pending marriage. Despite the obstacles, it's tough to avoid each other due to the chemistry that exists between them. When We Left Cuba is the continuation of Last Year in Havana and I enjoyed this book as much as Chanel Cleeton’s first novel. This book can be read as a stand-alone but you would be missing out on a great story.
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  • Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
    January 1, 1970
    This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.This was such a wonderful story! I really enjoyed Chanel Cleeton's Next Year in Havana so I was really excited to learn that one of my favorite characters in that book would get to tell her own story. This is that story. The events in this book take place after those in Next Year in Havana and while I enjoyed seeing all of the characters again, this story stands on its own. I was hooked by this story from the very beginning and had a This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.This was such a wonderful story! I really enjoyed Chanel Cleeton's Next Year in Havana so I was really excited to learn that one of my favorite characters in that book would get to tell her own story. This is that story. The events in this book take place after those in Next Year in Havana and while I enjoyed seeing all of the characters again, this story stands on its own. I was hooked by this story from the very beginning and had a fantastic time with this book.This is really a big story. Beatriz and her family are living in Florida after fleeing Cuba when Castro came into power. The family has suffered a lot of losses and it has been a difficult adjustment. Beatriz and her family hope to go back to Cuba but are also trying to make a life in Florida. Beatriz's mother would like to see all of her daughters married but Beatriz has other ideas. She has turned down quite a few marriage proposals and is more focused on revenge.This story was filled with excitement. Beatriz works with the CIA and let's just say that her life is far from boring. She was passionate about the cause that she was working towards and it was really quite interesting to see her in action. Some of her missions were more exciting than others but it was great to see her in action. I was really taken by the romance in this story. It was not your average romance and I am actually somewhat surprised that I was so taken with it but I just found myself swept away by their chemistry. Nick and Beatriz were just great together. They were incredibly attracted to each other and couldn't seem to stay apart even when they tried. There were so many things that seemed to work against the possibility of a relationship between them but they just couldn't stay away from each other. There were things about their relationship that made me sad and I wouldn't necessarily say everything turns out well but I think they were both better for knowing each other.I really enjoyed the politics and history that were a part of this book. This was such an eventful period of time and I loved seeing some of the events that I have learned about worked into this story. I thought that all of the little details that the author included really added to the authenticity of the story. I would highly recommend this book to others. This was a captivating story about a passionate character working to make a difference in the world while trying to find some happiness for herself. I cannot wait to read more from this talented author.I received a digital review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.Initial ThoughtsThis was great. I loved Beatriz in Next Year in Havana and knew I had to read her story. She is really an amazing character. This book has a lot of politics and history worked into the story which I found really interesting. There is some romance in the book and I must say that the chemistry between Nick and Beatrice was so well done. I felt like it may not be the best relationship for either of them but I just understood why they wanted to be together. Definitely a book to pick up.
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  • Carlene Inspired
    January 1, 1970
    Find this review and others at Carlene Inspired.Beatriz Perez, with her beauty and her paste jewelry, can work the Palm Beach social circuit with the best of them, but she can't pretend it's what she wants. The fake smiles, the social status marriages the American dream, it doesn't mean as much to her as the future of Cuba does. While her family feels safe, despite the loss of their home and the family's successful sugar business, Beatriz burns with anger, with a desperate desire for revenge, wi Find this review and others at Carlene Inspired.Beatriz Perez, with her beauty and her paste jewelry, can work the Palm Beach social circuit with the best of them, but she can't pretend it's what she wants. The fake smiles, the social status marriages the American dream, it doesn't mean as much to her as the future of Cuba does. While her family feels safe, despite the loss of their home and the family's successful sugar business, Beatriz burns with anger, with a desperate desire for revenge, with a sadness that penetrates even the happiest of moments. As future Beatriz drinks a champagne of celebration and reflects on the past, young Beatriz makes the choice to risk it all, to join the CIA in the act of espionage."'We'll be in Havana soon,' he vows.'We'll dance at the Tropicana,' I counter."Chanel Cleeton does it again with When We Left Cuba, taking readers into the past with a gorgeous, sweeping historical fiction. Blending fiction and facts, the romantic tale follows Beatriz as she gives up jewels and Palm Beach fame for the secretive life of a spy. And yet, Beatriz can't hide from love, the kind of love that's forbidden, that makes her question the politics at play, the kind that could ruin her revenge plan entirely. I love love loved Beatriz in Next Year in Havana, just the small glimpses of her that we were given told us she'd be a force to reckon with and in When We Left Cuba we see just that. She's fierce, driven, beautiful beyond words, and yet she's weighed down by the loss of her home, of her life, of the future she dreamed of. Beatriz, the girl who once loved jewels and fancy dresses, now lives for revenge. Except Nicholas Randolph Preston III makes her believe in happiness, the kind she can escape to, but that she also knows she can't have, not when he's sitting in a senate seat and she is spying for a team not known for abiding by the rules. "There is no place for a broken heart in all of this."Chanel Cleeton kept me engaged with the perfect blend of romance and suspense; I loved the chemistry between Nick and Beatriz, yet while I read of their stolen kisses I yearned for the reveal of secrets that would get Beatriz closer to her goal. I loved her perspective on her family's escape, of the experiences they had in Cuba, of the politics in America at the time. She is an independent, opinionated women at a time when that was frowned upon. Her passion overflows from the pages, filling me with the same desperate desire to right the wrongs in Cuba. "He fell in love with a socialite and has gotten a spy in return."When We Left Cuba is a fascinating novel that takes readers back in time in American and Cuban history. Chanel Cleeton weaves fact with fiction as strong-willed Beatriz Perez romances the Kennedy-connected elite and blends with the girls vying for the attention of a wild revolutionary. Chanel Cleeton has such an incredible, romantic way with words, I could feel the bubbles in my own throat as Beatriz sipped the finest champagne and the butterflies of fear that flapped their wings inside her as she traded in family and safety for secrets. I was intrigued and entertained from the first page to the very last, Beatriz' voice becoming real in my mind as she narrated the dangerous world of espionage and told of the man who she nearly risked it all for. Suspenseful, poignant, and romantic, When We Left Cuba, and its beautiful heroine, is an instant favorite for me for 2019. I won't soon forget Beatriz Perez and her love of her home, Cuba.ARC provided.
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  • DeAnn
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 revolutionary starsThis is a lyrical and lush historical fiction tale featuring the glamorous Beatriz Perez, who we first meet in “Next Year in Havana” also by Chanel Cleeton. Beatriz is exiled to Palm Beach, her entire family forced out of Fidel Castro’s Cuba. She was the queen bee of society in Havana and is creating quite the stir in Palm Beach. She has a string of marriage proposals and broken hearts to her name.She is completely taken by surprise when she falls for a handsome politician 4.5 revolutionary starsThis is a lyrical and lush historical fiction tale featuring the glamorous Beatriz Perez, who we first meet in “Next Year in Havana” also by Chanel Cleeton. Beatriz is exiled to Palm Beach, her entire family forced out of Fidel Castro’s Cuba. She was the queen bee of society in Havana and is creating quite the stir in Palm Beach. She has a string of marriage proposals and broken hearts to her name.She is completely taken by surprise when she falls for a handsome politician and the two share a star-crossed romance. The timing and their backgrounds are not quite a fit for the times when all of that mattered so much. Cleeton does an outstanding job of writing so that you feel like you are in Florida and Cuba during this time period.There is some political intrigue with the CIA, plots to assassinate Castro, and the Kennedy era all intertwined to make this a fascinating story with history as a framework. Beatriz is much more than a pretty face and this book completely drew me in to her character and made me root for her happiness. She is fueled by revenge, but that can be a detriment to happiness and fulfillment.I highly recommend this one to those that enjoy historical fiction, some suspense and romance all thrown in. I really enjoyed this companion story and the charater of Beatriz is fantastic.Thank you to my local library who amazingly had copies of this available on release day.
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    5 ☆ Part spy, romance, and political thriller this was a slow burn in all the right ways. It follows up Next Year in Havana detailing the beauty and tragedy of war-torn Cuba after the Perez family are exiled to the states living in Palm Beach, Florida. Fidel Castro is playing house with the Russian’s and opening his shores to communism. But one of the Perez sisters is out for revenge. The very beautiful, bold as brass Beatriz Perez is a force to be reckoned with this time around — to avenge her 5 ☆ Part spy, romance, and political thriller this was a slow burn in all the right ways. It follows up Next Year in Havana detailing the beauty and tragedy of war-torn Cuba after the Perez family are exiled to the states living in Palm Beach, Florida. Fidel Castro is playing house with the Russian’s and opening his shores to communism. But one of the Perez sisters is out for revenge. The very beautiful, bold as brass Beatriz Perez is a force to be reckoned with this time around — to avenge her brother’s death and reclaim her own country. I adored her character!! Loved this story!
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  • ☕️Kimberly
    January 1, 1970
    The Perez family has left Cuba and relocated to South Florida. While her father tries to rebuild his wealth and her mother tries to marry them off, Beatriz Perez works with the CIA, to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle. I adored Cleeton's contemporary romances, but you can tell she has come home in this genre. From, the history to the culture she captured everything from the political climate to the Cuban people. I love Beatriz. She is young, about twenty-two at the beginning of this story, The Perez family has left Cuba and relocated to South Florida. While her father tries to rebuild his wealth and her mother tries to marry them off, Beatriz Perez works with the CIA, to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle. I adored Cleeton's contemporary romances, but you can tell she has come home in this genre. From, the history to the culture she captured everything from the political climate to the Cuban people. I love Beatriz. She is young, about twenty-two at the beginning of this story, but the tale begins with her as an older woman and ends the same. I loved her story and the forbidden romance nestled amongst the pages between daring missions and covert spying.While the story is entirely fictional, Cleeton does weave in factual history giving the story an authentic vibe I love in stories such as these. I fell hard for the characters, especially Nick and her cousin. The romance is a forbidden one and the kind you never forget. I adored them together even when they fought. It was a powerful romance, but so was Beatriz commitment to the cause. The romance isn't straightforward and takes side stage to Beatriz work to undermine Castro but I loved every damn moment. If you are looking for a beautiful, poignant and addictive read, I encourage you to pick up When We Left Cuba. It will work as a standalone, but don't cheat yourself, grab Next Year in Havana too. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer
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  • Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
    January 1, 1970
    Rich in detail and devastating history, Next Year in Havana enchanted me with the smooth way it blended history with fiction and before I knew it I had completely devoured it in one sitting.Knowing that there was a sequel on the horizon, this time told from possibly the most famous and notorious Perez girl, I knew it would be one of my top reads for the year and I'm happy to report I wasn't wrong.Filled with strife, and heartache but also love and friendship, When We Left Cuba will completely ta Rich in detail and devastating history, Next Year in Havana enchanted me with the smooth way it blended history with fiction and before I knew it I had completely devoured it in one sitting.Knowing that there was a sequel on the horizon, this time told from possibly the most famous and notorious Perez girl, I knew it would be one of my top reads for the year and I'm happy to report I wasn't wrong.Filled with strife, and heartache but also love and friendship, When We Left Cuba will completely take readers breath away with the seamless way Cleeton once again weaves through history both past and present in a time when the world was being torn apart but so many events and conflict. The author once again proves that she can write about a history that many of us don't know about and makes us all care deeply about it and want to learn more, until we are so engrossed with the story and the characters themselves that it changes us all. The way we think, they way we feel and most of all, changes our perspective on how we view the world and those around us.Beautifully told and completely memorizing, I enjoyed Beatriz's story so much and am so glad I was introduced to this series for so many reasons. I will be on the lookout for whatever the author writes in the future. *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Christie«SHBBblogger»
    January 1, 1970
    Title: When We Left CubaAuthor: Chanel CleetonRelease date: April 9, 2019Cliffhanger: NoGenre: historical fiction, women's fictionLet me start out by saying that I see major love for this book, and I seem to be in the minority with my feelings. My issues may not be yours. If you've been excited about reading this as I was, you could very easily disagree with me. I was looking forward to Beatriz's story ever since meeting her in Next Year in Havana, and I thought her book was going to be surefir Title: When We Left CubaAuthor: Chanel CleetonRelease date: April 9, 2019Cliffhanger: NoGenre: historical fiction, women's fictionLet me start out by saying that I see major love for this book, and I seem to be in the minority with my feelings. My issues may not be yours. If you've been excited about reading this as I was, you could very easily disagree with me. I was looking forward to Beatriz's story ever since meeting her in Next Year in Havana, and I thought her book was going to be surefire, five star book. She was a little bit mysterious, bold, courageous, and honestly I was dying to learn everything there was to know about her. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way. I had a difficult time forcing myself to read all the way through until the end. If you read the previous book, you'll know that this takes place after the Cuban Revolution and picks up with Beatriz and her family as they are beginning to settle into their new lives in Florida. Elisa is now married, and her mother is obsessed with finding husbands for her other daughters from a respectable family. Her father is focused on rebuilding his sugar empire on American land so that his family is provided for and safe. Though they found refuge there, they haven't been welcomed with open arms in the wealthy circles they were accustomed to in Cuba. There is frustration and bitterness over having their success stolen from them, losing their homeland, and most of all, the injustice of her brother Alejandro's murder. The pain of everything she has survived gnaws at her until the only thought that brings her comfort is killing Fidel Castro and finally returning home to Cuba.“They say you ruled like a queen in Havana.” “There are no queens in Havana. Only a tyrant who aims to be king.”The book started out really strong. Beatriz is watching cooly amused at her kneeling suitor as she receives her fifth marriage proposal. She's in independent woman for her time who wants to make her own way in the world. The last thing she's interested in is giving up her freedom for so-called domestic bliss and being her husband's shadow. Her number one focus is making contact with the CIA and using them to get everything she wants. It's at this same party where she meets Nicholas Randolph Preston III. A sitting US Senator with aspirations to go all the way to the presidency. They share a dance, sparks fly, and then her attraction skids to a screeching halt when she realizes that Nick is now an engaged man. Professionally, I liked Nick. He was the type of politician that actually cared about making a difference. But when his attraction to Beatriz quickly becomes something of an obsession, that's where things go downhill for me. I didn't like Nick and Beatriz's relationship. At all. They start out by trying to stay away from each other, but it doesn't take long at all for them both to take what they want "temporarily" and move her into the position of his mistress. I hate cheating and don't find anything remotely romantic about it. I'm all for a star-crossed romance, but it was very hard to root for them or feel any angst over the position they found themselves in. It would have been different if Beatriz knew before sleeping with him that his engagement was purely for political gain. But no. She chose to take what she wanted and (in her words) become "the villain" in the scenario. The other woman. And I understand that she had no interest in marrying anyone, but to sleep with a committed man simply because she temporarily wanted him? He even tells her that he's had other affairs, and it doesn't bother her a bit. You believe in Cuba and the dreams you have for her future. Besides, you’re Beatriz Perez. When have you ever wanted something and not gotten your way?”I never believed Beatriz cared for him equally as he cared for her. Everything she did was to further her own goals and she never once took his feelings into consideration. Love isn't selfish like that. You make compromises and shift your ambitions to make room for someone if you truly love them like they deserve. Eventually Nick did these things. He proved by his actions that he was willing to make sacrifices for her, but it didn't go both ways. The only thing she wanted was an opportunity to assassinate Castro, and to return to Cuba. “I vowed Fidel would pay. For what he did to Cuba, for what he did to my family: for throwing my father in prison until we feared he was lost to us, for his role in my brother’s death. There were days, so many days, when that vow was all that kept me going.”Which, overall was the main point of her espionage throughout the book. We were led steadily toward this opportunity that she was waiting for. She wanted to avenge her brother and free her country from this tyrant who had taken so much from so many. And then we finally get to "the moment" and any expectation of an exciting confrontation is quickly deflated like a popped balloon. There was just no excitement for any aspect of the book for me. The spy sections were sporadic and failed to garner any suspense whatsoever. I was not invested in Beatriz and Nick's ill fated relationship, so I didn't feel a thing for them. But I left the book feeling more than a little disappointed at the supposed happy ending, because it just wasn't realistic. (view spoiler)[I'm sorry, but seeing the two of them reunite when he is 93 years old is not satisfactory. I they could have just left things as they were and NOT gone there. He'd had a long and happy marriage with another woman and became a widower 6 months prior. It wasn't realistic to me that he would have any interest in running back to Beatriz the moment Castro dies at this point in his life. (hide spoiler)]The politics were dense in this book which really bogged down the pace, and Beatriz's inner narrative about Americans grated on me. I wanted to love it so bad, but the more I think about the book, the more it frustrates me. I'm actually struggling to think of anything to mention that I liked. I will say that Cleeton did put a lot of detail into the historical side, expressing the threat of nuclear war and Kennedy's assassination very vividly. Like I said, I see glowing reviews everywhere so don't let mine stop you if you're planning to read this. Some books aren't for your taste, and in my case, this happens to be one of them. FOLLOW SMOKIN HOT BOOK BLOG ON:
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  • Ari
    January 1, 1970
    *I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.*WE HAVE MY FIRST FIVE STAR READ FOR 2019!Before I get into my review, I just wanna be a little messy and throw some shade real quick. Last year, Chanel Cleeton released Next in Year Havana and honestly I feel like everyone slept on it a lil bit, myself included. It wasn't until Reese Witherspoon chose it as her book club pick did everyone's ears perk up and there were grabby hands everywhere, mines includ *I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.*WE HAVE MY FIRST FIVE STAR READ FOR 2019!Before I get into my review, I just wanna be a little messy and throw some shade real quick. Last year, Chanel Cleeton released Next in Year Havana and honestly I feel like everyone slept on it a lil bit, myself included. It wasn't until Reese Witherspoon chose it as her book club pick did everyone's ears perk up and there were grabby hands everywhere, mines included. Moral of the story: stop sleeping on Chanel Cleeton's book and get to reading y'all! Moving on...In the companion novel to Next Year in Havana, When We Left Cuba follows the story of Beatriz Perez, a young Cuban heiress who longs to return home and to be among her people. It's been almost a year since the Perez family fled Cuba after Fidel Castro came to power and Beatriz is itching to find a way back to Cuba—to take down Castro and to take back her country. But knowing who to trust and which moves to make will prove to be much harder than she thought and if Beatriz hopes to make it out alive, she's going to have to be willing to risk it all—no matter the price.You know, Chanel Cleeton snatched my soul in Next Year in Havana—but she came for my whole existence with When We Left Cuba!I don't think there are enough adjectives in the world to accurately describe the perfection that is Cleeton's writing. Her words suck you in from the very first page and getting yourself to stop reading for just even one second becomes such a difficult task to accomplish. Cleeton's writing is so vivid that I could literally see this story playing out in my head like a movie. I felt like I was transported back to the 1960s and was actually living through all the events that were taking place. This book is very politics heavy as we see the tension between Cuba and America rise and the possibility of war on the horizon and to be honest, politics can sometimes cause a story to drag but I didn't feel that here. I was constantly kept on my toes, waiting for when the next jaw-dropping twist would occur and to see which one of these characters would end up on the chopping block next. There are so many intense situations occurring one after the other and I swear, I gasped so many times while reading this book and that ending gave me literal heart palpitations!I went into this book knowing that Beatriz was gonna bring hell but I was still not expecting her to go the lengths she did! But first, can I just say that all the men in this book are literally trash and the fact that Beatriz put up with some of this shit makes me just love her character even more. In a era where women are told that their only focus should be on marriage and family, Beatriz goes against the societal norms and shows that woman are capable getting their hands dirty too. Beatriz is strong as hell and brave as fuck! The things she went through in this book, all the missions she was put on, she was basically risking her life trying to take down a dictator and there was no guarantee of success but she did it anyway because that's how much love she felt for Cuba. Beatriz's journey is not an easy one but you'll be rooting for her all throughout it!There is a little side romance among all the political warfare that is going on and y'all it was so scandalous! I loved the way Cleeton managed to weave the romance into this story and though it wasn't the main story line, Beatriz's relationship with Nicholas Preston does come into play when it comes to Beatriz making certain decisions. From tender moments to heartbreaking ones, you see as Beatriz struggles between her love for her country and her love for an American man and trying to choose between the two. This romance has so many ups and downs and while I personally wasn't the biggest fan of Nick, I do think he was a good fit for Beatriz because he allowed her to be her full true self and he softened some of Beatriz's rough edges and we got to see a more vulnerable side to her. The thing I love most about this romance is how Cleeton was always bringing these two back together in the most unexpected ways, showing us that sometimes love does triumph in the end.When We Left Cuba was an unforgettable masterpiece and this book deserves all the stars! If you're still sleeping on Cleeton's books after reading my review then you really need to reevaluate your life choices and go pick this book up NOW!
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  • Madalyn (Novel Ink)
    January 1, 1970
    As expected, I loved this. It’s very different from NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA, but it’s wonderful in its own right. All of the international politics and political intrigue hardcore appealed to my politico side, and I’m shocked by how much I was rooting for the romance. So so good.
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  • Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    Next Year in Havana was one of my favorite books of 2018, and I have recommended it to everyone who would listen to me, so the bar was set pretty high for When We Left Cuba. I can’t honestly say I loved it quite as much as I did NYIH, but even so, WWLC is a fantastic read. It took a little more time for me to warm up to Beatriz, but I did grow to love her. The Beatriz we met in NYIH is not the same person we meet months later, now living in Palm Beach and still grieving over the loss of her twin Next Year in Havana was one of my favorite books of 2018, and I have recommended it to everyone who would listen to me, so the bar was set pretty high for When We Left Cuba. I can’t honestly say I loved it quite as much as I did NYIH, but even so, WWLC is a fantastic read. It took a little more time for me to warm up to Beatriz, but I did grow to love her. The Beatriz we met in NYIH is not the same person we meet months later, now living in Palm Beach and still grieving over the loss of her twin brother, Alejandro. Her plan to avenge his death by participating in a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro seemed foolhardy, but understandable. Maybe one of the reasons I couldn’t get invested in her quest was the obvious--Fidel Castro passed away in 2016 at the age of 90, so I knew she wouldn't be successful. I truly enjoyed her journey from a beautiful, sought after socialite to independent, educated woman and a force to be reckoned with. She made many difficult decisions along the way, and my heart hurt for her many times. There were snippets in NYIH that lead me to believe Beatriz had made her mark in the world, but I never imagined how that would come about. Set against the backdrop of the Kennedy Assassination, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the beginning of political turmoil in the U.S., Beatriz’ story reads like a spy thriller with a strong element of romance, and a dash of family drama. It took me a little bit to warm up to her and to fall into the story, but once I did, I was completely hooked and found myself wanting to get back to the book asap to see what would happen next. Much like NYIH, I was fascinated with the politics of the Cuban revolution and the aftermath--the changing relationships with both the United States and the Soviet Union, the pro-Castro factions in the U.S and around the world, made me think and gave me a new perspective on that particular time in history. With the Perez family, we are privy to the life changing-- both good and bad--effects of revolution and exile. While the Perez sisters, Elisa and Beatriz, did not end up living the lives they had been raised to expect, I think they lead the lives that were perfect for the women they became after they left Cuba.
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