WHEN WE LEFT CUBA by Chanel Cleeton & Giveaway

Several years ago, I got the opportunity to visit Havana, Cuba. Being in a Communist Country felt kind of dangerous and secretive, but it was also exciting and very cool! In many ways, it appeared life had stopped in the 60’s, which in many ways it has. This is country and time period author, Chanel Cleeton features in her sweeping love stories.


Chanel Cleeton is the USA Today bestselling author of NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA – a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

I loved NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA, but her new one, WHEN WE LEFT CUBA, not so much… I may be in the minority, but that’s okay. Let me tell you what the novel is about and then share my thoughts.


Beautiful. Daring. Deadly.

These are the words being used to describe Cleeton’s, follow-up novel, WHEN WE LEFT CUBA

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.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Straits, 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 not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart.

My Thoughts: Where to start? Is this a love story? Historical Fiction? Non-fiction? Please tell me. I’m well aware of what factually happened during the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, but it seems to me Chanel Cleeton didn’t make up her mind before writing the novel, which kind of novel she wanted to write. It’s kind of all over the place. At one point it reads like chick-lit with the sweeping descriptions of Palm Beach, gowns, jewelry and balls. In much of the prose, the dialogue was so over the top, I could picture the characters delivering the words, the way actors did in the old black and white silent movies. I recognized the author’s political position in chapter one, and respect her perspective. But I didn’t need for it to be rammed down my throat in the following three-hundred plus pages. 

I wanted to love this novel. Those who read my reviews know I rarely speak negatively of a novel, but this just didn’t work for me. Being this is a follow-up to NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA, it’s being given a huge marketing push. Perhaps it’ll work for you.



Chanel Cleeton is the USA Today bestselling author of Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick Next Year in Havana. Originally from Florida, Chanel grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.


Thanks to Berkley Publishing, we have one copy to give away. Just tell us something you know about Cuba. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

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27 thoughts on “WHEN WE LEFT CUBA by Chanel Cleeton & Giveaway

  1. Most of what I know about Cuba is from the news or books. A friend of mine visited Cuba many years ago on a strictly guided tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Most of what I know about Cuba is from ages ago, with the exception of the new things I learned from reading Next Year In Havana — prior to reading the book, I didn’t know that sugar (and rum!) was such a big part of their history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mother and her siblings traveled to Cuba in the ’50’s. She still talks about how glamorous and exciting it was. I know everything changed once Castro took over.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved the first book as well and have been eagerly awaiting this one. My neighbors growing up were Cuban drs who fled during that time as well

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved Next Year In Havana and I also love to watch One Day At A Time on Netflix and it’s about a Cuban family but I honestly don’t know much history about Cuba.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Other than what I’ve learned in history and in the news, the few things I know are some of their delicious food and colorful communities.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What I know about Cuba was learned from my ex-usband;s family. From what they told me it was once a beautiful island. I hope some day it will return to this beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cuba has been through some political issues, it is a country with beautiful landscapes but at the same time, there are poverty and social problems. Their healthcare system is good though.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Went there last summer. It is illegal to own a car built after 1962ish. That is why all the old cars. Also after war the apartments were owned by the people who lived in them. That is why they are not kept up anymore. The landlords of the buildings lost ownership.

    Liked by 1 person

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