When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

When We Left Cuba

Chanel Cleeton

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz Perez 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.

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Instant New York Times bestseller!

In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life—and heart—to take back her country in this exhilarating New York Times bestselling 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...

Advance Galley Reviews

Download expired before I could get it unfortunately. Liked what I could read of it so will probably purchase in the future.

When We Left Cuba is an amazing sequel to Next Year in Havana. While the story continues to follow the Perez family, this book could be read as a stand alone book. I enjoyed reading about Beatriz Perez and her joining the CIA to enable her access and resources to avenge the death of her twin. It was fascinating to see the life of Cuban exiles and how dangerous it was for Beatriz when she briefly returned for the CIA. It shows you the devastating loss of losing your homeland. Throughout the book, Beatriz also has a forbidden romance brewing with a young senator. This book perfectly weave together Cuban and American politics, romance, and espionage. I would highly recommend it for historical fiction fans.

Let me start off by saying, I'm not a huge historical girl. I don't hate it but I just don't gravitate towards it. I don't know if it's cause this is the 60s and that doesn't feel super distant or because Next Year in Havana slowly opened the door by being half in the past, but I absolutely loved this one. Beatriz is fiery and determined and I loved absolutely everything about her. I loved her commitment to her country and her ideals above all else. Maybe things don't always work out for her, but she's committed to her goals 1000% and I super admire that. The political intrigue and the espionage mixed with Beatriz' love story were absolutely everything. Jumping back and walking with Beatriz definitely made me feel like I was back in that time with her. I loved that she was such a free spirit also. She would not let anyone set her back or underestimate her. She was so tough and driven and I am absolutely obsessed with her.

My rating: 4.5 stars In her first book about the Perez family, Next Year in Havana, author Chanel Cleeton had introduced us to Beatriz Perez, Marisol Ferrara’s great-aunt and also older sister to Elisa Perez. Even though the focus of that story was on Marisol and Elisa, with Beatriz playing only a supporting role, I still remember quite vividly Beatriz’s strong, spirited, defiant personality – in fact, she was one of my favorite characters from that story so of course, I was absolutely ecstatic to learn that Cleeton’s next novel, When We Left Cuba, would essentially be Beatriz’s story. While Next Year in Havana was set primarily in Cuba and focused on the time period of the revolution in which president Batista was ousted and Fidel Castro took power, When We Left Cuba is set primarily in the United States and focuses on the aftermath of the revolution, the Cuban exiles living in Florida and their fight to reclaim Cuba, as well as the island’s relationship with the rest of the world under Castro’s leadership. In addition, this story touched on elements that we would normally find in a spy thriller, as Beatriz becomes involved with the CIA and goes on a few secret missions for them with the goal of killing Castro in order to avenge the death of her twin brother Alejandro and the loss of her family’s home and fortunes. Story-wise, there was a lot at play here –politics, history (both Cuban history as well as American), romance, espionage, family, culture, etc. – plus quite a few characters, both ones we were introduced to in the previous story as well as new ones, yet not once did I feel overwhelmed by everything that was going on – rather, I was captivated by the story and couldn’t put the book down once I started reading it. I’m usually not a reader of spy/espionage-themed stories and more often than not, I also don’t take well to stories heavy on American politics, but this book defied my expectations in this area -- both of these themes were incorporated extremely well, to the point that they didn’t overpower the story, which I absolutely appreciated. One of the biggest draws to this book for me was the character of Beatriz Perez herself – a wonderfully written character who was at once complex, intriguing, and absolutely unforgettable. I loved her sassiness, her independent spirit, her boldness in following her heart and not caring what others thought of her or her actions, her open defiance of convention and refusal to conform to what society and her parents expected of her (which was to marry someone rich and well-connected, have children, and fade into the role of demure housewife). Beautiful, smart, funny, willful, and headstrong, Beatriz was the type of person who wanted to be recognized and respected for her own merits, who valued her own independence and freedom and making her own way in the worl d, who wanted to shape her own destiny and not be a woman needing to be “taken care of” by a man or whose worth in the world could only be defined by the merits and achievements of her significant other. At the same time, she was also a woman who knew how to love passionately, fearlessly, boldly, devotedly, yet still be able to approach the same relationship with pragmatism and discernment. In her Author’s Note, Cleeton mentioned that after introducing Beatriz’s character in Next Year in Havana, she had to stop halfway through drafting that novel in order to write the first chapter of this book because Beatriz’s story “was pushing its way out, demanding to be told” – that’s exactly how I felt about Beatriz even before I started reading her story! Once again, Cleeton does a fantastic job of seamlessly melding historical events with a captivating story while at the same time giving us beautifully drawn, imperfect characters whom we can’t help falling in love with as the story progresses. While it’s not required to have read the first novel in order to appreciate this one, I would still recommend reading Next Year in Havana prior to going into this one because of the background it provides in terms of the Perez family and what happened to them during the revolution in Cuba. I enjoyed revisiting some of the characters from the previous story and also seeing how perfectly the timelines from both stories aligned. I’m not sure if Cleeton’s next historical novel (which, according to the note at the back of this book, is scheduled to come out in Winter 2020) will also be about the Perez family, but even if it’s not, given how much I loved her last 2 novels, no doubt I am still highly anticipating its release. Historical fiction fans definitely should pick both of these novels up, especially those who are interested in better understanding Cuban history and its role on the world stage. Received ARC from Berkley Books via Penguin First to Read program

Chanel Cleeton captivated me with her contemporary romances and continues to amaze with her historical fiction, too. Can't wait for more from this author.

“When We Left Cuba” is Beatriz Perez’s story. Beatriz is now semi-settled in America, but longs to go back to Cuba and avenge her twin brother’s death. So, she’s ecstatic when she becomes a CIA asset – until she finds a love she never expected… and technically can’t even have. She soon has to choose between Cuba and America: her past and her possible future. An almost impossible choice – especially when her forbidden love interest is a United States Senator. I admit – even though I said I’d research more about Cuba’s relationship with America after reading “Next Year in Havana,” I didn’t. And now I’m wishing I did, because “When We Left Cuba” is set during 1960s America – the story covers JFK’s run & election, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the beginnings of the Cold War, and JFK’s assassination. Literally all history I should know, yet barely do. But, I know it was also a time where women were meant to essentially sit still, look pretty, and busy themselves with raising a family and charity work. You know, things that women ought to be doing – and everything Beatriz Perez never wanted to do or be. Honestly, I think that’s why I loved Beatriz so much. She was selfish, but for all the right reasons. She didn’t want to settle, and didn’t want to mold herself into what was “expected” – she didn’t want to just be a wife. She didn’t even want to be a mother! (Scandalous! ??) So, she made herself useful – becoming a spy for the CIA, planning to assassinate Castro, everything. She was SO kickass it’s not even funny – and I. WAS. TOTALLY. HERE. FOR. IT. Plus, she wasn’t apologetic about anything! She owned herself, was proud of everything she did, and wouldn’t settle for anything, even love. In fact, when Nick, her forbidden Senator lover/OTP/one true love/endgame/whatever-we-want-to-call-him, thought that she should “retire” from her dangerous life as a spy, she refused and walked away. I mean, WOW. Show me another protagonist that did that. (No, seriously – I’d love to read their stories.) Seriously, I LOVED this book. Loved it so much that I stayed up until 4am reading it ON A WORK NIGHT. Yep. Pulled an unnecessary (but SO necessary) all-nighter to read this amazing book because I just really couldn’t put it down until I finished it. In fact, I’m already ready for a reread. Who’s with me?

Beatrice is torn apart.  She can't get over the death of her brother, the separation from her country, or the plight of her fellow Cubans.  Here, in Palm Beach, the family is trying to move forward.  One sister is already married and one engaged, her mother is in full out matchmaker mode trying to tie her girls to men that will raise their social standing.  Father is diving into business with a crazed zeal, trying to make back their lost fortune.  Beatrice.... can't.  She can't fit in with these other girls.  She can't smile, dance, and flirt like she's never seen darkness.  She doesn't want to.  There has to be more to life.  She wants to be part of the effort to help her country.... and she wants revenge on the man that killed her brother.  Castro will die.             When the chance comes in the package of CIA operative Dyer, she's all in.  Infiltrate Fidel's inner circle, get close.  Get intel... this is what she needs.  The fact that there's also a man that she wants, or that her family can't understand or know about what she's doing have to be pushed aside.... but how can she?   As the Cold War looms, Beatrice is torn between her old home, and making a new one.            While Next Year In Havana, Chanel Cleeton  introduced us to the Perez family, it painted a picture of Cuba.  Batista's Cuba, beautiful and glittering- if you had money.  Then, the revolution.  The change of political climate and the chaos.  For me, it emphasized the places- home, and where they ended up.  When We Left Cuba deals more with the aftermath of the move.  The fight, the political turmoil, the ramifications of every decision are brought to the forefront here.  I felt like the actual description of the places took second place to the description of the pain, of the war.  Cuba wasn't just an island it was a dream, an ache, and where her people were.          Watching Beatrice move and grow into herself was amazing.  I loved the time with the other characters, and meeting new ones.  I thought Cleeton did a superb job of fleshing these characters out... making them real and important.  I felt for each of them, drawn into their life.  This is by no means a  quick read or a fluffy, feel good novel.  You will cry.  It will destroy you.... and then?  Then, it will deliver hope.  Renewal.  I finished this book just a few days ago and already I miss Beatrice.  I want to go back.  Five stars all the way.           On the adult content scale, there's some language, violence, and sexual content.  None of it is over the top, and I would still let my niece read this.  I give it a four.            I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My Thanks.

Chanel Cleeton writes a poignant and beautiful historical fiction novel. I loved the opportunity learn about Beatriz and her bravery. This book pulls on the heart strings, I think it will be an instant classic.

Although this is a follow up book to Next Year in Havana, this book can still be read as a stand alone. This book follows the Perez sister Beatriz and her life as a spy for the CIA. Just like the first book I really enjoyed learning more about life in Cuba and life for Cubans who escaped to America. Overall I thought the book was entertaining, but not as good as the first book. If you like historical fiction and romance this book will be a great addition to your TBR pile this spring!

I actually really enjoyed this book more than I thought. It had a fair amount of drama and romance and each character captivated you whether good or bad.

I didn’t know this was a sequel when I requested this book ... now I’m dying to read Next Year in Havana. I love a good historical fiction book and this did not disappoint!! This book had something for everyone.. drama, romance, etc, I am highly anticipating the 3rd book (after I read the first of course!)

I am positively IN LOVE with Chanel Cleeton's Cuba books. With these two books, Chanel Cleeton has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I very much look forward to reading more! Beatriz Perez is absolutely FASCINATING. Determined, saucy, strong, honorable, searching. She has such a very strong voice; it was such an interesting choice to pull back and use 3rd person in the 2016 bits! I can totally picture these books on the big screen; the cinematography would be absolutely stunning.

Great writing and story. Highly enjoyable read!

3 Stars. A story about a displaced Cuban woman trying to save her homeland while having a romance with a senator. Taking place shortly after the Cuban revolution, Beatriz and her family left Cuba and are now living in Palm Springs, Florida. Beatriz and her sisters spend their time attending society parties in the attempt to find a rich husband. While their family is wealthy, Beatriz’s father has to work hard to regain their fortune that was lost and her mother works to rebuild their social standing. Beatriz does catch the eye of Nick Preston, a young senator and possible future presidential candidate at one party, but Nick is engaged to someone else. Beatriz does not want a husband anyway, she wants to get revenge on Fidel Castro for her brother’s death. Through her friend Eduardo, who also fled Cuba, she meets with a CIA agent. She tells him her plan and he believes she can be useful, but she has to wait until the right time. After her first CIA mission, she turns to Nick and they become closer. When their affair causes a scandal, Beatriz is shipped off to Europe where she continues to work with the CIA. Nick comes back into her life, telling her he broke off his engagement and that he wants to be with her, but he does not want to keep doing her dangerous work with the CIA. Beatriz has to choose between love and revenge. This book is a companion to Next Year in Havana and you may want to read that one first since this story lacks any background information. The story is told in third person following Beatriz in the 1960s and in a few chapters in 2016. This story has a fair pace, but gets bogged down by the romance. The parts where Beatriz is working with CIA are interesting, but the parts about her romance with Nick and flirtations with Eduardo slow the story down. The story would have been better with less romance. Beatriz was bold and stubborn, she did want she wanted. The other characters are well written with distinct personalities. The author researched the history of the Cold War well. Besides shooting and a fight, the story has no violent scenes. The story does not have any really racy scenes. I liked most of the book and may check out others by the author.

I snagged a copy of Chanel Cleeton's When We Left Cuba from First to Read and I'm glad I did! This novel focuses on Beatriz, who appears briefly in Cleeton's previous novel, Next Year in Havana. I have to say, I liked this book better than her previous novel, which I think is because I liked the main character better and it doesn't really jump too much - mostly takes place in the 1950s and 60s. I enjoyed the love story, but didn't feel like it was unrealistic or took up the whole novel. I learned more about the Cuban/American politics when Castro took over in Cuba and liked this take on it. Recommend picking this one up when it comes out in April!

Of what I read, I absolutely loved this book. Unfortunately I wasn't able to finish it, as it expired before I was able to.

This is an excellent follow up to the author’s last book “Next Year in Havana”. The story focuses on Beatriz and I very much enjoyed it. Thank you to FirstReads and the publisher for giving me an opportunity to review this book.

Started the book, but my download expired much quicker than other books I’ve gotten from first to read. Disappointed.

I liked this book just as much as I enjoyed Next Year In Havana. Beatriz was more firey than her sister Eliza and I appreciated that this book didn't go back and forth between the past and present. The same things that I found annoying with Havana I found here. Too much description not enough action. Too much politics not enough thrill. I do enjoy the Perez family and the characters, so we'll see if I follow the author. Thanks First to read for the galley in exchange for an honest review.

I was able to read the first quarter and then the e-book expired even though I have an email saying that I had until March to write a review. Contacted the customer service email (twice) and no one got back to me. From the other reviews seems like I'm not the only one who had issues with this e-book. A shame because I was really enjoying this book and loved Next Year in Havana. Hope to finish it once it comes out.

I read about 25 % before my download expired. Looking forward to reading the rest of the book once it is released.

After reading Next Year in Havana, I was really anticipating the next book in the series. When I had the opportunity to read When We Left Cuba I was excited. Unfortunately I was disappointed. This book tries to be too many things. It tries to be a romance, an action story as well as historical fiction. To me the story did not flow, especially when the story began to bounce to the present. The first time that happened I was totally confused. There was no connection with either time frame. This technique worked very well in the first book, not so much in this one. I am usually a fan of historical fiction but not this one.

I read the first book, Next Year in Havana, so when this cake up on Penguin First to Read I knew I wanted to read it. And I did get a free copy in exchange for a review. This starts out after the Perez’s are in Palm Beach, Florida trying to reestablish themselves to their previous Society status they had in Cuba. The mother’s whole intent is to find her daughters rich established husbands. Beatriz Perez, the beauty of the bunch, is not convinced all she wants is a husband and children. And she definitely wants revenge against Castro for ruining Cuba and for killing her twin Alejandro. At one of the Society parties she meets Senator Nick Preston. Engaged to someone else and way above the Perez’s station now, they begin to flirt but will Beatriz be able to get over her desire for revenge or does her desire for revenge consume her. I started and stopped reading this at least 4 or 5 times. I just could not get into it. Finally whatever clicks did click and I couldn’t put it down. It’s actually very interesting and I did enjoy it. I would have given it 5 stars but I felt it started off very slow. If you can’t seem to get into it, don’t give up. It gets better and better.

Thank you for this ARC. I started reading When we left Cuba but had issues with the pdf format on my Kobo e-reader. I'll buy a copy when it's published.

When we left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton is a wonderful follow up to her previous novel Next Year in Havana.  I was hooked right from the first page, I did not want to put it down.  The book is very well written the characters are well developed and realistic.  You actually feel like you are the character that is how vivid the descriptions are.   I enjoyed learning about the history of Cuba.  This book has it all romance, spying, politics, family drama it is all there.  I highly recommend this book and can’t wait for another book of Chanel’s to come out.  I received an ARC of this book from Penguin First to Read.

I loved reading Chanel Cleeton's follow up to Next Year in Havana. Beatriz Perez was always the wild one when the family lived in Havana - out late, running around at night clubs and unbeknownst to her family fighting against Castro. When the family moved to Florida, Beatriz 's desire to kill Castro grew; Castro supporters killed her brother and dumped his body in front of their house. She continues her wild days in Miami and is recruited by the CIA to get close to Castro and kill him. I loved being whisked away to Beatriz' world, and could practically picture myself being there. I can't wait for more from Chanel Cleeton.

I was lucky enough to receive a ARC of this amazing novel and it did not disappoint. An amazing story that interlaces true, historical events with an original fiction that is unlike anything I’ve ever read (save her first novel). Beatriz Perez is the embodiment of the woman we all crave to become someday: fiercely strong and intelligent, who knows how to see the world for what it is. Spanning decades but mainly set within the 1950s-60s, Beatriz navigates through her life as an exiled Cuban in America living in Florida. Her story entwines with powerful individuals like a U.S. senator and an FBI official, with one clear goal set in her mind: take down the man responsible for the inhumane plight of Cubans who were forced to flee their homes, but also the death of her beloved brother. Her balancing act between espionage and maintaining her authenticity is truly supreme. She manages to weave within a lie and the truth as boldly as her determination and fiesty spirit allow. She is somehow both quiet and highly memorable as she tries to forge a path to defeating Fidel Castro so she and her family may return back to their home. As the story unfolds, you root for Beatriz to succeed. You want her to be able to find a way to have it all: love, vengeance, and her return to her homeland. But as we all know too well, when the scales tip one way, something is tipped another in order for there to be balance. In the end, Beatriz ends up as most of us. While we don’t always get all the things we want and work hard to receive, we always find a way to make due and prosper from what we’re given. That underlying theme makes this story is one that will resonate with me forever. Amazing.

When I read Next Year in Havana the mysterious great-aunt Beatriz popped out to me and I had thought of "what is her story". It turns out that Chanel Cleeton has the same thought and started writing Beatriz's story at the same time as Next Year in Havana. Beatriz's story takes place after the family arrives in Palm Beach and continues for the next few years through Kennedy's assassination in 1963. Beatriz is seeking revenge for her twin murder in Cuba and the CIA is willing to assist with that goal. This is a spy novel in the sense that Beatriz works with the CIA but it is much more a love story. Would you be able to compromise on your desires for the love of your life? That is Beatriz's journey.

I am fortunate to have visited Cuba several years ago, and having lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis as a child, I've always been interested in this neighboring country's people and politics. Chanel Cleeton's When We Left Cuba is a well-researched and fascinating look into Cuban expat life. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Beatriz, a woman of much complexity and passion, but I feel that had I read Next Year in Havana first, I would have enjoyed its sequel even more. I definitely will read the first in this series, though, to fill in gaps in this compelling story. Thank you to Penguin's First to Read for the opportunity to read this ARC.

Cuban born, Beatriz Perez has had a horrible few years, her twin brother was murdered in the Cuban revolution, her family has been exiled to Palm Beach, and her social status is dwindling with each broken engagement. She was a sugar queen in Cuba, a glamorous beauty whose family was wealthy and powerful until Fidel Castro violently took control of her beloved home country. She is bored with the men she is meeting in America until she catches the eye of a very powerful very handsome and very much engaged senator. The begin a love affair but he is not the only one that has caught Beatriz's attention. She is being recruited by the CIA to conduct a dangerous plot to kill Castro and set her home free. Chanel Cleeton's novel is full of tension and passion as Beatriz strikes a delicate balance between her love of her homeland and the new love she has found with Nick. I enjoyed this novel immensely even without reading her earlier work, Next Year in Havana. I highly recommend this thrilling read.

This novel was very well written and quite enjoyable. The story of the Perez family held my interest. I'm very interested in reading the rest of the series.

As soon as I saw this on First To Read, I was so excited! I could tell right away how well researched this book was and that is always the mark of an amazing book. Cleeton is an outstanding writer with well rounded out characters. Her imagery is like no other. I highly recommend this book!

I jumped so fast to request this early copy because I couldn’t wait to read a continuation of the Perez family. This book was phenomenal and did not disappoint one bit. I love everything about Beatriz, and following her through all the gatherings and events. The novel was well written and I love to read about this time era. This was truly well researched just as the Next Year in Havana was. If you enjoyed that book, you will certainly enjoy this one! I can’t recommend it enough.....5 stars!

Next Year in Havana was my absolute favorite book of the year and I could not wait to continue the Perez family story. When We Left Cuba did not disappoint! Beatriz is passionate, captivating, and courageous which makes her a ton of fun to follow through social gatherings to political entanglements. I also loved the historical tie-ins and unconventional romance she finds herself in. I cannot recommend these books enough!

When it was announced that a continuation of the Perez Family, When We Left Cuba, was available via download on firstreads.com before it would be available in bookstores, I jumped at the chance for an early look at this book. . . When We Left Cuba follows Beatriz Perez’s story after she and her family left Cuba for refuge in Florida after being chased from their home. Set in the ‘60s the political climate of the United States is changing, the Kennedys are holding court at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and communism is enemy number one. . . To what lengths will Beatriz go in her quest for revenge against the man she holds responsible for her brother’s death and her family’s exodus from her homeland, Cuba? Will she give up the possibility of true love? Will she tarnish her image in the social circles her family find so important? Or will she regret not standing up to defend the one place she called home? . . When We Left Cuba is a well written and well researched novel. It’s hard not to sympathize with Beatriz as she chooses between social stature and love and her burning desire for revenge and freedom for Cuba. If you enjoyed Elisa and Marisol’s story in Last Year in Havana, I highly recommend picking up a copy of When We Left Cuba when it is released in April 2019.

I was so excited to receive the advanced copy of When We Left Cuba - I loved the first book in this series and this one did not disappoint. Chanel Cleeton makes me want to visit Cuba, and be a part of the Perez family. I cannot wait for more books about this family - and I cannot recommend her books enough!

It has everything! Intrigue, romance, history. It’s absolutely captivating and keeps you turning the page to see what happens next.

I absolutely adored this book. I'd read the first book about this family, so when I saw this was another standalone but about characters I'd already enjoyed, I knew I wanted to read it. It did not disappoint!

Great addition to the series. Interesting and entertaining read. Good story flow and intriguing characters. Enjoyed this book and hard to put it down. Enjoyed all the books in this series so far and can't wait for more! 5 stars!

**Thank you Penguin for the advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review ** After finishing Next Year in Havana I was dying to read about Beatriz’s involvement in the Cuba political environment. When We Left Cuba did not disappoint. The first half of the book I was yearning for more spy activity and there was more romance than I expected. Regardless, Chanel is a fantastic storyteller weaving fiction so interestingly around historical facts to bring a story alive. I was intrigued and fascinated by the Cuban and American history. I ultimately found myself rooting for Beatriz who is a fearless independent heroin that lived by her own rules.

***Thank you to Penguin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*** When We Left Cuba is exquisitely written. Chanel Cleeton effectively transports you to the 1960s in Florida. She encapsulates the era perfectly: the politics, the dynamic between men and women, and the importance of your reputation. This book follows Beatriz Perez, a headstrong woman who is nothing short of a trailblazer. She's the type of woman that believes women bring more to the table than simply being a trophy wife. She wants more out of life. In fact, she doesn't want a husband at all. What Beatriz wants is revenge. Her twin brother, Alejandro, was killed during the upheaval in Cuba. Beatriz is sure that the one at fault for her brother's death is Fidel Castro. The man who has taken over the country she has known all of her life. After her brother's death and Fidel Castro's successful takeover of Cuba, Beatriz and her family fled to America. While her mother tries to marry off her and her sisters, Beatriz is trying to convince the CIA to work with her. She plans to kill Fidel Castro herself. However, what Beatriz doesn't expect is to fall in love with an American man; an American Senator, no less. This could throw a wrench in all of her plans. I enjoyed When We Left Cuba. I have not read the first book, Last Year in Havana, but I have only heard great things about it. I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. All I knew was that everyone would be clamoring to get their hands on this book once it releases to see whether or not the author would weave another spellbinding tale. I loved Beatriz. She is 100% authentically herself. She makes no apologies for who she is or what she wants nor does she let anyone deter her from her goals. She's truly a modern woman. An icon. One of my favorite things about this story is watching Beatriz fall in love. She struggles with the fact that loving someone means you care for their well-being and their happiness. It's much easier for her to only worry about herself and her plans. Not to mention, she worries love will trap her in a life of domesticity. She's very much against being an accessory to a man, but falling in love with a man who accepts her as she is is almost worse than being seen as an accessory. In other words, she's scared. She is terrified of being consumed by love. If that isn't relatable to everyone, then I don't know what it is. Overall, I cannot say enough great things about this story and look forward to reading the first book soon. I love Beatriz and Nick. I love the author's writing style. Most of all, I love the ending. This book reads like a movie. Honestly, I hope it will become a movie. The story is great, the characters are fully fleshed out and remarkable, and the setting is authentic.

I won a copy of Chanel Cleeton's first novel Next Year in Havana from First to Read last year and LOVED it. So, when I had the opportunity to secure my copy of When We Left Cuba, I jumped on it. Cleeton delivers again, with a standalone continuation of the Perez sister's journey. Next Year in Havana seduced me with the decadent descriptions of Cuba, a land until recently most Americans could only imagine. What hooked me about When We Left Cuba was the suspense of the espionage and mystery of Beatriz' adventures. And of course, a handsome politician and a forbidden romance added to the appeal of this novel.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. This is the second book in the Perez sister saga. This one tells the story of Beatriz. She has always been a free spirit, and she proves it in this book. She becomes a spy for the CIA, goes to college and becomes a lawyer, becomes the mistress to a very powerful Senator, and travels the world. This is a great book that tells more about the people of Cuba and those that fled the island when Fidel took over. I loved learning about that time and this was a great read!

I love reading the stories of the Perez sisters. I don’t think I enjoyed the overall story as much as next year in Havana, but I like Beatriz as a character more than Elisa. I like how she deals not only with expected behavior of a woman but also as a refugee and lover of her family and Cuba.

When I started this book, I was riveted. But I think timing made it harder for me to get into it as the story went on, and I had to put it down and won't be able to finish. I definitely plan to get back to it though.

I read this book right after I read Next Year in Havana, and I was so excited to read a book with Beatriz as the main character. She's a great character, and I loved how she went outside of the norm of society. I didn't love this book as much as Next Year in Havana because I didn't like the romance as much. Overall, though, I liked that this book gave a better overview of life for exiles in the United States after the Cuban Revolution!

Beatriz Perez is a strong, dominant, and determined main character who wants to gain revenge for the death of her brother during the Cuban Revolution of the 1950’s. She is forced to flee to Florida after her father’s sugar plantation is acquired by Fidel Castro and company. Beatrice is beautiful and brave. She is also wise enough not to become married to any of the five men who propose to her. This is excellent historical fiction speckled with suspense and romance.

I thoroughly loved this book. It drew me in immediately and I had a hard time putting it down. Beatriz is such a wonderfully drawn character. I enjoyed seeing how she evolved and where her love for her country and the people in her life took her. Nick was also a great character and I enjoyed seeing how their relationship changed throughout the story. The author has a real feel for the time period and draws you into the political machinations going on in that period. I'm looking forward to going back and reading Next Year in Havana where Beatriz is introduced since it's been a book I've been meaning to get to for a while yet still haven't gotten around to reading.

I really enjoyed Cleeton's previous novel, Next Year in Havana, so I was looking forward to the follow-up. This is very different book from the previous novel, but I enjoyed it just as much. It has a more political bent to it as Beatriz is more involved in that aspect. Others have stated that they had a hard time connecting with her and I understand that, but I really loved her strength. She doesn't have a lot of vulnerability and she is a flawed character, but that is what makes her so interesting to me. Even with all of the focus on Cuban politics of the time, I was really engaged with the book. I thoroughly enjoyed this and look forward to her next novel.

When We Left Cuba is the second book by Chanel Cleeton. It is the story of the sister of the main character of Next Year in Havana. I enjoyed her first book because it had two distinct stories, one set during the overthrow of the Cuban government by Fidel Castro in the 1950 and the other set in current times. This book had one story - about Beatriz Perez and how she became a spy during the 1960s in an effort to overthrow Fidel Castro's government. There were flash forwards to the death of Castro and the feelings she had at that towards the end of her life. I liked this book because of all the background history of Cuba. Cleeton really delved into expatriate Cubans living in the United States and what they feel about Castro from both sides. I didn't really care about the romantic relationship Beatriz was in because to me it didn't seem believable. Thanks to first to read for the arc of this book.

Having loved Chanel Cleeton’s first book, Next Year in Havana, I was excited to read an ARC of When We Left Cuba. Historically speaking, I thought Cleeton nailed the events of the revolution in Cuba and Kennedy’s presidency. I was disappointed as I did not feel as close to the characters in her first book.

Even though I did not read Next Year In Havana, I still enjoyed this book. I will have to get the first book to read.

This book is just as captivating as the first one by Chanel Cleeton. It is full of drama and intrigue. You don't have to read Next Year in Havana first, but it helps with understanding some of the plot. At a time when most women are just concerned with getting the best possible husband, Beatriz wants revenge for her murdered twin brother and for losing her family's way of life in Cuba. She is a fascinating woman who uses her beauty to advance her cause.

I was unable to connect to Beatriz, I felt that her anger clouded her common sense.

I just loved this book! I had been so looking forward for this book to be released and felt extremely blessed that I was chosen to receive an early copy which I was able to read on vacation in the Caribbean. Beatriz is such an amazing, courageous, woman. She and her family lived and sacrificed through the Cuban Revolution and then emigrated to South Florida. It is a romantic book, an exciting espionage story and a book about family dynamics. This book is the continuation of her and family story and how they are faring and flourishing in Florida. The first book is "Next Year in Havana" which I found to be very interesting and left me wanting more. Then Chantel wrote "When We Left Cuba"....WOW!! I suggest that you read both books and in order. I can only hope and anxiously await a third installment to read more about the Perez family and extended family.

What a powerful story! It’s a follow up novel that best read in order but could be read as a stand alone too. This is one of those epic historical fiction novel you would love to go on and on, but ended in a perfect way at the perfect time to avoid that feeling of will this ever end. It leaves you wanting more. More Beatriz, more Cuba, more Perez family. Great novel to end my 2018 reads with and hope the will be more of the Perez family in the future! And if I had to choose, I say this is hands down better than the first novel, which was great in its own way.

"When We Left Cuba" was an enjoyable read for me. I liked that it was very fast paced and kept me engaged until the very end! It was interesting to see how the events of Beatriz's life in Cuba gave her courage and independence to fight for what she really believed in, even when her life was at risk. She used her brain and physical beauty to accomplish those tasks. Her decisions to help Cuba altered her life forever. I highly recommend it! I did enjoy it more than the previous book. While "Next Year in Havana" switched to past and present often, "When We Left Cuba" focused on the past of Beatriz's exploits to help the country that she loved and missed. Here's hoping we read more about the Perez sisters.

"When We Left Cuba" is a side story of Chanel Cleeton's " Next Year In Havana" which was part of the Hello Sunshine Book Club. I enjoyed Beatiz' story, her need to return to Havana but her heart is torn between Havana and a gentleman who steals her heart. During the Fidel Castro's take over of Havana and the tension of the US/Cuba relations her family is in US. Her family is now settling into their new lives, but Beatriz wants to return to Cuba and the life they had before. She will do just about anything to accomplish her goal. Both are historical in nature and delightful reads with a mix of fiction and facts.

Ok book, romance novel or spy story, which are you? I forgot, also political history of Cuba/U.S. relations. I think this book is trying too hard to be too many things. It did not really work for me. I will say there were some inter-personal relationship parts that were touching.

I am a huge fan of the first book and admit that it was a little difficult to switch at first. The more I read When We Left Havana the more I began opening up. Then there was a point in which I simply could not stop reading! I think the story was perfect for Beatriz and even more, the way it ended. If you found yourself intrigued by Beatriz through Marisol’s story, then this book is a must read! I really enjoyed the romance and even more, the history! As a Cuban American, the nostalgia of Miami and my family’s homeland really made me connect to the characters, settings, and the history. Overall, really loved this book! Looking forward to reading more from this author.

I loved Beatriz’s story! I enjoyed that this book was entirely from her perspective and that it was mostly set in the past. I loved Next Year in Havana, but I think I enjoyed this even more. I definitely recommend giving it a read when it’s released in spring 2019.

I enjoyed this book a lot not having read the prior book Next Year in Havana. Espionage, romance, US-Cuban relations, it's all there. This book is hard to put down but once you get into the story you're completely absorbed in it. I highly recommend it.

This book is a spin-off of sorts from her book “Next Year in Havana” and I loved that one. Dare I say I loved this one even more? It’s historical fiction, a blazing female protagonist, espionage, and a little romance all combined into a delicious page turner. A touch unbelievable sometimes but hey - I enjoy books that portray extraordinary events! As a history buff I liked how she focused on Cuba-US relations after the revolution as it’s such an interesting time. The author is Cuban-American and she always does a great job of painting the picture of struggle Cuban exiles must have felt/feel. I felt the book wrapped up a little quickly and her trip to Cuba felt rushed, but I still really enjoyed it. Beatriz was a fascinating part of the first book so I'm so glad she got her own story in this novel!

After reading this book I am on the fence regarding how I feel about it. I loved Beatriz from Next year in Havana and loved that story. I loved Beatriz in this story as well, however I found some of her story far fetched. I just can not put my finger on with what was wrong with this story. Beatriz's involvement in the CIA made the story a bit hokey for me. I would have been fine with the story continuing on with a revolutionary group/ Help Cuba movement but the CIA just did not feel right or make sense. The love triangle that was added was good just figured there would be more steam since Beatriz is a spicy individual. The ending felt rushed to me, a little more detail about what Beatriz did after her mission to meet with Castro would have been nice. I liked this book I may have had higher hopes for this story since I loved Beatriz and was curious about her from the first book. Over all a fun little read. Looking forward to the next installment.

As predicted, Mrs. Cleeton did NOT disappoint. I read the first book and was just as impressed. The attention to detail, the accuracy of events and the storyline in itself is worth the read. I hope each sister gets her own book. And I hope Mrs. Cleeton continues to write about Havana as it is on my bucket list of places to visit. The details in these books make me feel like I am truly there

I was so excited to receive an early digital copy of this novel, and it did not disappoint! Reading this was like catching up with old friends, not to mention meeting a few new ones. While Next Year in Havana jumped back and forth between present & past, the majority of Beatriz Perez’s story is told between late 1950’s to early 1960’s. Some of the events and highlights I had little knowledge of before opening this book, since they were before my time-you hear parents or grandparents talk about when Kennedy was shot, but can’t really *know*-but this novel puts it in new light, makes you feel like you were there. It was wonderful to read how Beatriz’s character (among others) grew and changed over the course of her life & the story, and the pace and plot moved along easily. Dialogue flowed smoothly, and there was just enough conflict and (tastefully handled) romance to keep you wanting more, finding out what happens next. I hope there will be more of the Perez family in the future...

A page turner, the perfect combination of romance, history, suspense and ohhh my…. I could not put this book down. I found myself wanting to yell at Beatriz in the manner I would watch my great grandmother yell at the novelas when I was a young girl. After I read Next Year in Havana I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. I was left wanting to know more about the Perez family, their characters feeling so real. Having studied abroad in Havana, Cuba when I was an undergraduate student, as I read, I could feel the passion Beatriz felt for the beauty of her country. This book felt so real in so many ways. I kept finding myself wanting to do the research on the history of Cuba. The ending of the romance between Beatriz and Nick was unexpected, and seeing Marisol’s character come into this story only made me hope there will be another book that will continue with the story of the Perez family.

I love the cover on this follow up novel to Next Year in Havana. The story is about Beatriz. She has a fever to avenge her brother's death and see Castro ousted, even killed. While working clandestinely, she embarks on a forbidden relationship with a wealthy senator. They love in a bubble, which eventually evaporates. Each lives a different life, but love usually finds a way. This one wasn't quite as good as the first book, but still delivers.

Thanks to Penguin's First to Read program for a advance reading copy in exchange for a honest review. Very intense, fiery, and oh la la. Only a little disappointed that this one was not quite as awesome as the first book, but still very good compared to some historical fiction today.

I was really looking forward to this book. I had an issue with my copy where the first page of each chapter was blank minus the first letter of the first sentence...I emailed First to Read Twice and it has been over a week...still no response. I am assuming I will never get to read this book and do not want to be punished for not writing a review so here I am...very disappointed in the program!

Synopsis: This book follows the story of Beatriz Perez, who was introduced in Next Year in Havana, throughout the aftermath of the Cuban revolution (set in the 1960s in Palm Beach). It is a story about Beatriz and her quest to avenging her brother’s death and her desire for revenge against Fidel Castro. It includes romance, politics and espionage. It highlights the tensions between the US and Cuba and the Kennedy era. When I finished Next Year in Havana earlier this year I couldn’t wait to hear Beatriz’s story. Right then I thought we didn’t get enough of her in Next Year in Havana. She is such a fascinating character and I connected with her. Lucky for us we get an entire book about Beatriz and an amazing follow up to Next Year in Havana. I really enjoyed how the author captured all the historical facts with the romance and espionage aspects intertwined. The pace of the book is slower than Next Year in Havana and I missed the writing in two different time periods that I loved in the first book. However, I couldn’t put this one down either as I was intrigued by Beatriz’s story. This book can be read as a stand-alone book, you don’t have to read Next Year in Havana before reading it, but why wouldn’t you? It is amazing! I hope Chanel Cleeton continues to delight us with more of the Perez family members in future books. Thank you to First to read and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I really enjoyed Next Year in Havana, so I was very excited to read When We Left Cuba. Although I did not love it as much, I still really enjoyed it. Chanel Cleeton is a great author, and I love reading these books even if historical fiction isn't so much my genre. Beatriz is a great main character and I loved all the espionage even though I was a little lost with the politics and stuff at times. I'd definitely recommend this to people who enjoyed Next Year in Havana.

If you enjoyed the historical fiction novel,Next Year in Havana, you'll want to check this one out as it features Beatriz Perez. I'm so glad the author decided to write a book about her because she's a fascinating character. Really liked this one as it had a little bit of everything including romance, espionage, and family drama. While this book could be read as standalone novel, I highly recommend checking out the previous book so you can get a better understanding of not just Beatriz but also her family and everything that took place in Cuba. It's the 1960s and Beatriz and the Perez family are living in Florida after the Cuban Revolution forced them to leave everything behind in Cuba. Beatriz has a lot of anger towards the man responsible for all of the turmoil in her home country, Fidel Castro, and so she agrees to work as a spy for the CIA and infiltrate Castro's inner circle. She soon gets quite an education on the dirty side of politics for both countries and also manages to get caught up in a forbidden love affair. It's fair to say she will be forced to make a lot of tough choices, some with lasting consequences. I was slightly worried before reading this that it was going to read too much like a spy novel, which isn't really my thing. However, while Beatriz working for the CIA is definitely part of the story, there are other facets of her life that are explored as well. Overall there really was a nice balance to the story. I was drawn the most to Beatriz and her love life but I also enjoyed learning some of the historical facts regarding what was going on between Cuba and the United States during this time. It was also nice to revisit characters from the previous book. Definitely an enjoyable read and I would love to see the author continue on with featuring Perez family members in future books. Thank you to First to Read for the free advance digital copy!

In between the story of Elisa and the story of her granddaughter Marisol in Next Year in Havana is When We Left Cuba, the story of Beatriz, sister and aunt. Except for it isn't in between - because nobody puts Beatriz in a corner, or in between anything for that matter. Beatriz is used to doing things her way, and her family being exiled from Cuba only makes her more determined. Beatriz can make you want to shake her at times, which means Cleeton is writing her perfectly. She's wiser than her years, but in some regards so single-minded and idealistic that she can help oust Fidel Castro and go back to the Cuba she wants. Her relationship with a senator and an old friend of hers from Havana help add romance and balance to a character sometimes focused to the exclusion of everything else on Cuba. Unlike the preceding novel that shifts between two stories in two times, this one is exclusively told by Beatriz, mostly in the years directly after her family's exile and helps provide a more personal perspective on both the Bay of Pigs, and the frustration of Cubans by the Americans' stance on their country. Once again, Cleeton has a winner on her hands!

I loved this book just as much as I loved Next Year in Havana. That book stayed with me for a long time after I turned the last page, and I can already tell this one will too. Though Beatriz was a fairly minor character in the previous book, she was a fascinating and mysterious one, and I'm glad I got to read her story in When We Left Cuba. This is still not a period of history that I'm overly familiar with, so it was very interesting to read about the turmoil and intrigue even in America after Fidel took power in Cuba. Cleefton has a gift for creating realistic, fleshed-out characters, and Beatriz was no exception. She is intelligent, brave, stubborn, and deeply loyal to both her country and her loved ones, and overall I may have liked her even more than Marisol (the main character of Next Year in Havana). When We Left Cuba is a fascinating, poignant book set in a significant time in world history, and I can't recommend it enough.

this book claimed its way to the top of my list for books I can’t wait to read in 2019. ever since I read “next year in Havana” I wanted more of the Perez story. I devoured this thing. I didn’t want to stop till the end and then I wanted it to keep going. This is a worthy successor to the first novel and its stands on its on by itself. I loved the story of Beatriz and I’m so glad that the author needed to tell the story of what came after the revolution. My preorder still stands because I know I’ll read this one again and any of Chanel Cleeton’s future historical fiction books. This one is highly recommend led and five huge stars.


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