When We left Cuba

Chanel Cleeton
When We left Cuba
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Publisher
Berkley Books
Release Date
April 2019
ISBN
9780451490865
Genre
Historical fiction, Historical Romance

SUMMARY
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...

Book Review by Pip (reviewer)
Apr 03, 2019   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
2 people found the following review helpful
WHEN WE LEFT CUBA isn't quite a sequel to Chanel Cleeton's much-loved Next Year in Havana, the latter of which I do consider one of my best reads of the year. Still, it's a book that stands on its own feet even if it's less sweeping than its predecessor. Still, WHEN WE LEFT CUBA is a compellingly written story of the oldest Perez sister who struts her way through the pages, armed with the thirst for revenge as she somehow moseys her way into the clutches of the CIA while tangling with a senator who's a player in politics and in every sense of the word.

Within the fodder material of the fabled and many attempts of the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro is where Ms. Cleeton posits Beatriz Perez after her escape from Cuba, navigating the thorny issues of policy and politics of the time. Bold, hot-headed and reckless, Beatriz carves a path for herself that's as treacherous as you'd expect, resulting in having her loyalties sorely tested as her decisions change the course of her life.

Ms. Cleeton writes in favour of long, descriptive passages of place and emotion; the pace is slower as a result, the plot a little more convoluted. The romance isn't quite the focus here; rather, Beatriz herself is the star of the show, front and centre. Her long, longstanding affair with a powerful senator is carried out amidst society's expectations and the uncertain political climate, a subplot that runs alongside her involvement with the CIA.

I'll admit though, that it is harder to be singularly or emotionally invested in Beatriz completely as I was in Ms. Cleeton's first book about Elisa and her granddaughter. Undoubtedly, Beatriz is a colourful character who stands out sharply--sometimes too painfully sharply like a woman cut from a different cloth--not just by means of her birth but also her life experiences, but ultimately, she's still a protagonist whose story I read about from a distance as she made her own small stamp on history, for better or worse.

Ms. Cleeton's impactful writing carries it all here, despite the odd hollowness I felt about Beatriz by the end. It's what took me through the politics, the lies, the dirty games and the passing of time within the pages after all and it's what keeps me coming back.
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April 18, 2019 11:29 PM ( EST )