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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Review: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas

Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 19th 2019
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel.

West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire…not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn’t bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She’s the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent—the most devilishly wicked rake in England.

Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?

Only the devil’s daughter knows…

Is there anything that can rival my love for Devil in Spring? Probably not, but I’ll keep on reading more of Lisa Kleypas’ wonderful historical romances in the meantime. Devil’s Daughter is the latest installment in the incredible Ravenels series, featuring the beloved daughter of Evie and Sebastian, Phoebe.

Phoebe, Lady Clare, lost her childhood friend, love, and husband from an illness too young. She is left in mourning with her two young children when West Ravenel enters her life. She remembers him as the bully who made her late husband’s childhood miserable, and she continues with that grudge when she first meets him. But as she gets to know this man, she realizes that he’s all grown up and completely different from the jerk he was as a young boy.

When Phoebe asks West to help out with her deteriorating farms, he can’t help but say yes. He’s drawn to the beautiful widow, though his troubled past makes him believe he’s not good enough for her. But since his transformation in book one, we know West is a compassionate, intelligent, and wonderful man who deserves happiness. I loved the fun chemistry and banter that sparks between these two. It was so obvious that Phoebe and West were meant to be together!

One of the many things I love about Lisa Kleypas is how she has her characters defy societal norms, be they in subtle or obvious ways. Phoebe is a widow, which means she has to dress and act a certain way for a certain period of time, but being the headstrong woman that she is, she does what she wants. West is a modern man who can appreciate past traditions while also welcoming future inventions when it comes to running a farm.

Devil’s Daughter is another hit from the queen of historical romance. LK has yet to disappoint me, with this series or otherwise. Right now, I’m dying for the next book, which will be about Cassandra!


lacey


Reading Order: The Ravenels series


#1 ~ Cold-Hearted Rake: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Marrying Winterborne: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Devil in Spring: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Hello Stranger: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ Devil’s Daughter: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#6 ~ Chasing Cassandra: Goodreads (Feb. 25, 2020)


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Review: Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Greycourt #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 18th 2018
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she’s attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge.

Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading among the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins-sins he’d much rather forget. But she’s also fiery, bold, and sensuous-a temptation he can’t resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he’ll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, he will have to earn Freya’s trust…by whatever means necessary.

I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt’s after discovering her Maiden Lane series. Not every book was a hit, but there were enough that it felt bittersweet when the series came to an end. When she announced she’d be releasing a new series though, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Not the Duke’s Darling is the first in the Greycourt series, setting the stage for a new cast of characters. While I enjoyed the characters, I had a hard time connecting with the story and couldn’t fully love it as much as I hoped to.

The foundation of Freya and Christopher’s story starts fifteen years earlier, after a tragic event that tears apart friends and families. Christopher and his best friend, Freya’s brother Ran, become estranged for the next decade and a half, leaving him on one side and the de Morays on the other. Fast forward to the present, and Christopher is back from India to run his dukedom and Freya is a Wise Woman disguised as a chaperone. As a member of the secret order of Wise Women, Freya is not your typical woman. She’s fierce, with an intelligent mind and exceptional fighting skills. When they meet again for the first time in years, Christopher doesn’t recognize her, but Freya vows revenge on the man who wronged her brother.

Christopher and Freya have an explosive relationship. Their chemistry is off the charts, and not just because she wants revenge on him. Even though Christopher doesn’t recognize Freya at first, that doesn’t stop him from wanting her. Her wit and sharp tongue leave him desperate to be around her. There was a bit of a reversal in roles with these two, with the hero being all in with the heroine, and the heroine being more on the reluctant side, which I enjoyed. Freya’s prickliness gave her character depth, and I couldn’t help but be entertained as Christopher tore down her walls.

“Don’t change. Don’t ever change. I like your prickliness, your scowls, the way you argue with me so fiercely. I want a lioness, not a lamb.”

What didn’t work so well with me were the various subplots that the author tried to tie all together. It felt messy, trying to juggle the Wise Women order, Freya’s mission to save a duchess, Christopher’s late wife, his time in India, someone targeting Freya, the tragedy that happened years ago between three best friends, and even the POV of the next book’s heroine, whose story is being set up in this book. When there is so much going on, it’s hard to make everything as fully fleshed out as possible, which is mainly what made me hold back from enjoying the story.

Not the Duke’s Darling has its issues, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to continue with the series. I’m intrigued enough with the hero and heroine of the next book to want to pick it up, and hopefully it balances plotlines better.


lacey


Reading Order: Greycourt series

 

#1 ~ Not the Duke’s Darling: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ When a Rogue Meets His Match: PaperbackGoodreads (July 30, 2019)


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Review: The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Series: Rokesbys #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: November 20th 2018
Links: Ebook • Hardcover • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

She was in the wrong place…

Fiercely independent and adventurous, Poppy Bridgerton will only wed a suitor whose keen intellect and interests match her own. Sadly, none of the fools from her London season qualify. While visiting a friend on the Dorset coast, Poppy is pleasantly surprised to discover a smugglers’ hideaway tucked inside a cave. But her delight turns to dismay when two pirates kidnap her and take her aboard a ship, leaving her bound and gagged on the captain’s bed…

He found her at the wrong time…

Known to society as a rascal and reckless privateer, Captain Andrew James Rokesby actually transports essential goods and documents for the British government. Setting sail on a time-sensitive voyage to Portugal, he’s stunned to find a woman waiting for him in his cabin. Surely, his imagination is getting the better of him. But no, she is very real—and his duty to the Crown means he’s stuck with her.

Can two wrongs make the most perfect right?

When Andrew learns that she is a Bridgerton, he knows he will likely have to wed her to avert a scandal—though Poppy has no idea that he is the son of an earl and neighbor to her aristocratic cousins in Kent. On the high seas, their war of words soon gives way to an intoxicating passion. But when Andrew’s secret is revealed, will his declaration of love be enough to capture her heart…?

I recently went on a Julia Quinn binge when I was craving a new-to-me historical romance series to get lost in, and the Bridgertons series was exactly what I was looking for. It’s full of humor and heart, so of course I was excited to read about the Bridgertons prequel series, the Rokesbys! The Other Miss Bridgerton is the first in this new series that I’ve read, but I will be remedying that soon because I adored Andrew and Poppy’s story. It’s a tale of kidnapping, high seas, pirates (who prefer the name privateers), and secret identities – how could I not enjoy it?

Poppy Bridgerton is ahead of her time. She’s daring, independent, and adventurous… but that all leads her to trouble when she’s found in a supposedly abandoned cave and kidnapped so she won’t tell anyone the secrets that lie in that unfortunate cave. Captain Andrew James Rokesby is in charge of hiding and delivering those secrets, but imagine his surprise when his crew leaves an aristocratic woman, a Bridgerton of all people, in his bed on the ship. He knows he’s in trouble, but he’s keeping her on board anyway as they set sail for Portugal. Neither expect to enjoy their talks, their banter… or even to start falling for one another. But can a relationship really be possible when they reach land?

Poppy is as sassy a heroine as you can get. There’s absolutely nothing she can do on the ship, since the crew doesn’t want a woman on board because of superstition, so all she can use to fight with is her words. She’s intelligent and witty (my favorite kind of heroine), and much to her surprise, Andrew can give as good as he gets from her. They have a wonderful chemistry on board, thanks to the close proximity, and I loved that they made the kidnapping a bit light-hearted. This is more along the lines of a slow burn romance, which I appreciated. I couldn’t get enough of these two characters, their lovely banter, and the way they unwittingly start to fall in love. My only complaint is that I wish there had been more at the end. It seemed to move a bit too fast and conveniently. Other than that, The Other Miss Bridgerton was a delight and pure fun to read. I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the Rokesbys soon!


lacey


Reading Order: Rokesbys series

  

#1 ~ Because of Miss Bridgerton: Ebook • HardcoverPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband: Ebook • HardcoverPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ The Other Miss Bridgerton: Ebook • Hardcover • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Review: The Reigning and the Rule by Calia Read

The Reigning and the Rule by Calia Read
Series: Surviving Time #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: November 18th 2018
Links: Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Étienne Lacroix and I had a fire I thought would never die.
Our love was timeless.
An irreversible decision sent me back to the present day with a family I barely recognize, but I am determined to find a way back to Étienne.
I can survive time. But I can’t survive life without him.
Time bends to no one’s demands, so I must fight with everything I have to return to the past. However, I am terrified that the past I once knew might not look the same, and the man who once called me his surviving trace will no longer be waiting for me.

Time bends to no one’s demands but sometimes love does…

One of my FAVORITE new-to-me authors I discovered in 2018 is Calia Read. I saw the synopsis for The Surviving Trace – a time travel romance – and knew I had to read it. A heroine who somehow travels back to the early 1900s in the Southern U.S. and takes over the life of a woman who looked exactly like her and had the same name? I had to so many high expectations, and I was absolutely blown away by this phenomenal book. The writing, the characters, and the story all sucked me in and I couldn’t get enough of Serene and Etienne. By the time I got to the end, I was DYING for their next book. Thankfully, Calia Read didn’t let me down!

The Reigning and the Rule is the direct sequel, so you need to read The Surviving Trace beforehand. I honestly won’t say much about the plot, since it continues on from book one. All you need to know is that it’s just as good as book one, maybe with even more twists and turns. As soon as I picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down. I was easily sucked back into Serene’s baffling journey, the love she found with Etienne, and how she’ll do anything to keep it. She is such a strong, determined heroine, and I loved her for it. Etienne is as swoony as EVER. God, I love that man.

SO many emotions ran through me while reading this sequel. There’s a constant question of “What’s going to happen next?” and a heaping dose of angst to go with. The Surviving Time series is a must-read, whether you like time travel romances or not. It’ll transport you to another world that you never want to leave! Just a fair warning though, the ending will make you scream!!! I couldn’t believe Calia Read left us there, and I’d give my soul up to read the third, and maybe final?, book.


lacey


Reading Order: Surviving Time series

#1 ~ The Surviving Trace: Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ The Reigning and the Rule: Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads
#3 ~ Echoes of Time: Goodreads (May 26, 2019)


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