Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: April 9th 2019
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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…

What an unforgettable read! Beatriz’s story took my breath away – this novel was one I couldn’t put down. I’ve loved Chanel Cleeton’s writing for years now, but it truly shines when she writes historical fiction (though I still LOVE her romances). When We Left Cuba takes us on the wild, daring, touching story of a woman who seeks to reclaim her home and country from the revolution that’s stolen everything from her and her family.

It is 1960s Florida, Palm Beach, one year after the Perez’s were exiled from Cuba and forced to seek asylum in America. The family has settled, but Beatriz has not. Her heart is restless for her home country, and she’ll do anything to go back, including take down Fidel Castro with the help of the CIA. I absolutely loved Beatriz. She is a proud, brave, and passionate heroine. We witness the ups and downs of her trying to break away from the society girl mold she’s lived her whole life to her involvement with Cuban and American politics, the constant circle of hope, devastation, fear, and love she feels. She falls in love with a forbidden senator, but that doesn’t stop her from continuing on with her quest for revenge and justice.

I’m unbelievably impressed with the way Chanel Cleeton was able to weave Beatriz’s fictional story with real life historical events. It felt seamless and genuine, and Chanel’s writing easily transported me to this tumultuous time period. The political intrigue, the history, the passion, it all blended so well and kept me hooked onto the pages. When We Left Cuba is a beautifully-written, unputdownable historical novel that I can’t recommend enough.


lacey


Also by Chanel Cleeton

Next Year in Havana is a standalone companion to When We Left Cuba

Next Year in Havana: Ebook • PaperbackAudibleGoodreads

Reading Order: Wild Aces series

  

#1 ~ Fly With Me: My Review • EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ Into the Blue: My Review • EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#3 ~ On Broken Wings: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads


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Release Day Review: Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins

Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: February 12th 2019
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

People travel from afar to the small isle in the Aegean Sea hoping for a single glimpse of Princess Psyche. Their adoration for the mortal woman is so all-consuming that citizens begin to shower her with the very gifts and offerings they once left at the alter of Venus, goddess of love and beauty.

But gods are known for their jealousy.

Cupid, the god of love, takes pleasure in causing strife and mischief in the lives of humans. He uses love as a weapon, humoring in the weakness of people at the whims of their feelings. When his mother Venus approaches him about punishing the human girl who dares to steal her offerings and affections from the people, Cupid gladly accepts.

Psyche’s punishment is to be given to a mysterious creature who only comes to her in the dark of night under the pact that she will never lay eyes on him. She is terrified of this stranger, who the oracle described as a serpent. Her mate, however, is masterful in his dealings with his bride. He takes his time, morphing her fears into different sensations completely.

Based on the Roman/Greek mythology of Cupid and Psyche from Lucius Apuleius, New York Times bestseller Wendy Higgins brings the tale to life, weaving layers that show exactly how a sacrificial lamb can be enchanted by an unseen monster.

Y’all, I loved this book something fierce. It is SO, so good, and definitely up there as one of my favorite reads of the year. I love mythology retellings, especially Greek/Roman ones, and this Cupid/Psyche retelling was brilliant and beautifully written. I fell so hard for the story and felt for the struggle Psyche faces with her unknown husband. It’s a pure, romantic read I highly recommend!

“It has been decided. Hers will be a funeral wedding to a dar-deeded winged serpent. Many call him a monster. Your dear Psyche will call him Husband.”

Psyche is the princess of her small island and is considered to be the most beautiful woman to exist. Unfortunately, this angers Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, as her worshippers have turned to worship Psyche instead. To appease Venus and to save her people, Psyche is forced to marry a monster. The rules are simple: the monster will be her husband, she will spend her nights with him, and she must never lay eyes on him or touch him.

“You can have my body, creature of the night, but you will never have my soul.”

I knew the basics of Psyche and Cupid going into this book, so I appreciated even more the author’s unique take on that story. Wendy transports you to this wondrous, ethereal world of gods and monsters, and she makes you fall in love with Psyche and her mysterious husband. Psyche may have been forced into her marriage, but she doesn’t take it lying down. She uses the little power she has to make a life for herself in the new house she lives in with her husband, and takes any bit of independence he gives her. The husband is not so much a monster after all. He is kind, thoughtful, generous – the kind of husband Psyche never dreamed he would be. But who exactly is he? And why was she chosen to be his bride? There’s more at play than what she knows, and slowly, as she starts to fall for her mysterious husband, the truth starts to unravel.

The chemistry between Psyche and Cupid is intense. I was afraid going in that it would lie more on the YA side of steam, with fade-to-black moments, but rest assured this is not the case in Soul in Darkness! I lived for the sexy moments between these two fascinating characters. They both are placed in impossible situations but manage to make something beautiful and lasting out of it.

“Your beauty will never fade in my eyes, Psyche.” His words and voice rolled over me, sweet and heady. “My wife. My princess. The one who shot me with her love.”

I’m incredibly happy with this retelling and I hope Wendy Higgins decides to do more in the future. Her writing captivates you and makes you believe in the love between her characters. I swooned for Cupid and cheered for Psyche – my heart ached at how romantic their love story was. If you love any type of retelling, you absolutely must read Soul in Darkness!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


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Early Review: Stripped by Zoey Castile

Stripped by Zoey Castile
Series: Happy Endings #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: August 28th 2018
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Skilled, sculpted, and sexy, the men of adult entertainment are the kind of guys a woman reserves for her fantasies, not her reality. But is there more to these professional hotties than meets the eye? . . .

The day Robyn Flores meets Zac Fallon is one of those days. You know, when you’re already late for work. Mostly because you haven’t really slept since your best friend abandoned you for her fiancé and her exponentially better life. The kind of day you drag yourself to the cleaners to pick up your laundry, only to discover you’ve got the wrong bag—Star Spangled sequined thong, anyone? So Robyn is definitely not ready for the ridiculously gorgeous guy at her front door, except that they have each other’s clothes. But then, is any woman ever ready to meet the love of her life?

There’s just one problem: Zac Fallon is not the love of Robyn’s life. Zac knows, despite the all-too-intimate dinner they share, he doesn’t have a shot at her. Because the next time Zac sees Robyn, he’s front and center of the male revue headlining her best friend’s bachelorette party. So much for wooing the pretty schoolteacher, much less impressing her old-fashioned family, with his upstanding lifestyle. Now he’s only got one way to win his dream girl. It’s gonna be the steamiest, most irresistible seduction she’s ever seen. And this time it will be no act . . .

I had such high hopes for Stripped – I mean, a stripper and a fifth-grade teacher? To say I was intrigued would be an understatement, and I ended up adoring Fallon and Robyn. Their romance was surprisingly so much sweeter than I expected, but just as dirty and sexy as I was hoping a stripper romance would be. It was so easy to fall into the story, the writing, the characters. Zoey Castile is a new author you don’t want to miss. And if you’re a fan of Magic Mike, you absolutely need to read Stripped!

Robyn Flores’ life is a bit of a mess. She’s an elementary school teacher who is perpetually late getting to work. She used to have plans growing up on how exactly her life would turn out, and it’s all spiraled out from under her. But things start to change when she finds a sequined thong in her laundry… a thong that belongs to her next door neighbor, who is also one of the strippers who shows up at her best friend’s bachelorette party.

Fallon is not ashamed of being a stripper, and why should he be? He embraces his job that has led him to become successful and comfortable in life, a change from his childhood. He sees no shame in what he does, though he hates that people disrespect him and look down on him when they find out what he does for a living. He and Robyn feel an instant connection the moment they meet and the chemistry between them is on fire. I loved every moment they were together, as they banter with each other and form a closer bond. Fallon is absolutely perfect for Robyn, with the way he treats her so preciously. The way he embraces his job helps Robyn discover and embrace her own true passion in life. Robyn frustrated me a bit with her back and forth – in both life and with Fallon – but that was balanced out by how kindhearted Fallon was. Stripped was surprisingly low on drama, but it worked for their story.

As far as first books in a series go, Stripped was fantastic. It was entertaining, funny, but also had its meaningful moments. Also, Zoey Castile is way too talented at writing stripper scenes, because they just come to life right out of the pages. And they are HOT. I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for her readers with the rest of the series, and I’m so excited to see more strippers fall in love!


lacey


Reading Order: Happy Endings series

  

#1 ~ Stripped: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (Aug. 28, 2018)
#2 ~ Hired: Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads (Feb. 26, 2019)
#3 ~ Flashed: Goodreads (2019)


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Release Day Review: Arrogant Devil by R.S. Grey

Arrogant Devil by R.S. Grey
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: May 10th 2018
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Everyone in Cedar Creek, Texas, knows Jack McNight is an arrogant devil. Physically, I get it: he’s tan and fit, with coal-black hair that’s clearly been scorched by hellfire. Oh, and his personality? It burns just as hot.

When I show up on the doorstep of Blue Stone Ranch, I’m run-down and rockin’ my last pair of underwear. I’m hoping for a savior, but instead, I find him.

My opinion of Jack is marred by a dismal first impression, but his opinion of me is tainted even before I arrive. He’s heard I’m a spoiled princess there to take advantage of his goodwill. To him, I’m more trouble than I’m worth.

Our button-pushing banter should get under my skin. His arrogance should be a major turn-off. Problem is, devils are known to offer their own form of temptation.

Every one of his steely glares sends a shiver down my spine.

Every steamy encounter leaves me reeling.

Sure, it could be the Texas heat messing with my head, but there’s no way I’ll survive the summer without silencing him with a kiss and wrestling him out of those Wranglers.

Who knows…going to bed with the devil might just be the salvation I’ve been looking for all along.

If there’s one author that I know I can count on to deliver a laugh-out-loud, hilarious, fun romantic comedy, it’s R.S. Grey. She nails the humor in her books every time, from the funny banter to the crazy situations that the characters (mainly the heroines) end up in. Meredith was such an endearing heroine and though the hero was hard to like in the beginning, Jack grew on me in the end. If you’re looking for the perfect rom-com with cowboys, look no further than this one.

Jack breezes right past me and stomps into the shack so heavily that the fragile walls quake. It’ll be a fitting end, both of us suffocating under the rubble. Just as we’re gasping for our last breaths, I’ll offer to make peace, and very quietly, he’ll whisper back, Go to hell.

This quote perfect describes the kind of relationship our dear hero and heroine have, at least in the beginning. Meredith dumps her cheating husband and her cushy life, and the only place she can find a job is on the very hands-on ranch her sister works at. Jack sees her as a pampered baby, and though he’s not off the mark, Meredith is determined to be the best housekeeper she can be. To say they get off to a rough start would be an understatement – Jack is arrogant and judgmental, and no one fires him up like Meredith. He doesn’t take it too far, but it was hard to like him in the midst of all his asshole-ness.

Slowly, though, as Meredith and Jack get to know one another (thanks to a scheming grandmother and the constant proximity on the ranch), the two form a sort of truce. They becoming friendlier and start to understand each other better. Of course, they try to ignore the underlying attraction between them, but has that ever worked out for anyone? One thing I was surprised by in this book in the best way possible was that the romance was actually a slow burn. There’s lots of delicious tension between Meredith and Jack, but R.S. Grey tortures us a little by making their romance a slow and sweet one. I’m glad about the pacing of the romance – it made it that much more enjoyable and believable.

I adored Arrogant Devil. It’s got cowboys, humor, and an independent heroine. There wasn’t much more I could ask for. This was a fantastic Southern rom-com that I highly recommend for when you’re in the mood for something light and funny!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Also by R.S. Grey

Scoring Wilder by R.S. Grey  
  
  The Allure of Julian Lefray by R.S. Grey The Allure of Dean Harper by R.S. Grey
 

Scoring Wilder: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Settling the Score: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
Out of Bounds: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
With This Heart: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Chasing Spring: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
A Place in the Sun: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
The Allure of Julian Lefray: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
The Allure of Dean Harper: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
The Duet: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
The Design: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Anything You Can Do: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
The Foxe & the Hound: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
The Fortunate Ones: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
The Beau & the Belle: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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ARC Review: Bad for You by J. Daniels

Bad for You by J. Daniels
Series: Dirty Deeds #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 23rd 2018
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

He didn’t want to be bad. He just didn’t have a choice…

Shayla Perkins isn’t the kind of girl who makes the same mistake twice, especially when it comes to Sean “Stitch” Molina. So when he gives her the world’s biggest rejection, that’s it–she’s done. Until the sexy, silent, unavailable Sean makes Shay a very personal offer. Of course, it still doesn’t mean he’s interested in her. Or does it?

Sean has done things in life. Bad things. And he’s paid the price. All he wants now is to make up for his past by doing good in the present. And no one deserves more good than Shay. Beautiful on the inside and out, Shay is the kind of woman who should be cared for and protected–especially from a man like Sean. He’s tried to keep his feelings for her in check, but a single, reckless impulse pulls them closer than ever before.

Soon the two are sharing their biggest dreams and satisfying their deepest desires. But what will happen if the only way to truly give each other what they want most…is to let each other go?

I have been WAITING for Shayla and Sean’s book ever since they were introduced in the first Dirty Deeds novel. The anticipation for them seemed endless and torturous, because I knew when I read it, it would blow me away. And that’s exactly what it did when I got my hands on this ARC. Their story was absolutely breathtaking and heart-wrenching – my heart nearly couldn’t handle all the feels that were being dished out. I freaking adored Shayla and Stitch – these two are my new favorite couple of the series. Sean for sure is my new favorite hero (sorry, Trouble and Loser!). For all you new adult romance lovers who love a good emotional read that will twist up your insides, I highly recommend Bad for You.

Shayla Perkins swore that she wouldn’t give Sean Molina another chance after he rejected her and broke her heart. But after seeing time and again Sean acting on the kindness in his heart, despite his surly demeanor, she’s determined to mend fences between them and help him out with his personal troubles. She just can’t help the way her heart feels for him.

“You deserve love and kindness because you put out those things, Sean. You deserve to feel wanted. I want you. I want you so much. Let yourself feel that.”

Sean “Stitch” Molina grew up thinking he was nothing, that he was unworthy of anything and everything good – including Shayla. He has a past filled with heartache and pain, but Shayla makes him long for more than empty life he’s lived. She is the light that he never wanted to taint with his darkness, but this is a woman hell-bent on showing and giving him the love and happiness he doesn’t realize he deserves. I could feel Sean’s ache and longing for Shayla so clear through the pages – my heart broke for him over his past and his current struggles with accepting love into his life. When he finally learns to let love in with Shayla, it’s nothing short of beautiful.

“How the fuck can I have my family when the woman I love more than my own fuckin’ life isn’t with me? You wanna explain that?”

Sean and Shayla devastated me. Sean broke me, but Shayla healed me right alongside with him. J. Daniels did an incredible job with wringing out all the emotions in this novel. There were also so many unexpected, lovely things in this book that took me by surprise in the best way possible. We get to see a completely new side to Sean that is absolutely PRECIOUS. Honestly, you need to experience Shayla and Sean’s love story on your own – it’s one that will gut you and wreck you, but you will be glad for the experience. I simply loved it!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Dirty Deeds series

  

#1 ~ Four Letter Word: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Hit the Spot: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Bad for You: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads


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