A Book So Good, It Hurt: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

WHEN WE LEFT CUBA

by Chanel Cleeton
Genres: Historical, Romance, Adult
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Publication Date: April 9th 2019
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★★
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷✷✷
Amazon - The Book Depository

I would be a liar if I told you that I didn't know going into When We Left Cuba that it would be a book that I would love with all my heart. Last year, Chanel Cleeton completely won me over with her historical debut, Next Year in Havana. It was poignant, romantic and so interesting. When We Left Cuba was just as enthralling of a read. I loved it so much - it is easily one of my favorite books of 2019.

This book focuses on Beatriz Perez, who we encountered in her sister's book. I was intrigued by Beatriz' character in Next Year in Havana, so I was over the moon that Chanel Cleeton chose to shine a light on her here. What an absolutely magnetic character she was! Strong, brave, and patriotic beyond words would be the words that I would primarily choose to describe this powerhouse of a personality. Her independence and her strong roots to Cuba were a source of intense admiration and fear for this reader. Her thirst for revenge could have easily made her a difficult character to fully appreciate, but the author does a beautiful job at making you see Beatriz' point of view. She wasn't the sort of character who would be happy just sitting on the sideline as her country was being taken into ruin by Fidel Castro. She wanted to be in the middle of the action, fighting alongside the men for her country. Everything about Beatriz was absolutely compelling and I have to thank Chanel for writing her an evocative story.

Romance readers will also be happy to know that there is a romance in When We Left Cuba. Fair warning, it's not a straightforward romance and it is not the focus of the story, but I loved it with every fiber of my being. Beatriz meets Nicholas, a US senator, at an elegant soiree where his cousin proposes to her. Their attraction to each other was immediate but they were both in precarious situations that wouldn't allow for them to be a happy couple. They clashed a lot, but underneath it all there was so much passion and mutual respect for each other. Their relationship made me ache. It was heartbreaking and made me feel so much to the point that I wished they had met under better circumstances. Their connection with each other throughout their stolen moments was that palpable. Like I said When We Left Cuba isn't a romance novel, but it was nice that there was something so beautiful to satisfy the romantic in me. As with Next Year in Havana, Cleeton presented the history, culture, and politics of Cuba so elegantly. Though I am a reader who reads predominantly for entertainment, I always appreciate when a book can teach me a few things and this series has certainly provided me with some interesting knowledge of Cuba.

Books are so incredible. I love how a few hundred pages are able to pack so much emotion and intensity. When We Left Cuba was a story full of passion, feeling, and rich history. It's a story that I highly recommend because it's one I know I will find myself re-reading. Chanel Cleeton is at her peak with romantic historical fiction and I cannot wait to see what she has in store up her sleeves!

What are some of your favorite historical fiction novels?
Let me know in the comments below!

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