A MONSTER LIKE ME by Pamela Sparkman

Heart of Darkness series #2

BEARD IN MIND by Penny Reid

Winston Brothers series #4

THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT by Emma Scott

Companion to the Full Tilt series

THE HUNTING GROUNDS by Katee Robert

Hidden Sins series #2

UNWRITTEN by Jen Frederick

Woodlands series #5

Cross My Heart by L.H. Cosway

Hearts series #5.75

MOONSHADOW by Thea Harrison

Moonshadow series #1

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Release Blitz with Review: The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon




Heart breaking. Heart healing. Heart melting. The Smallest Part, a contemporary friends-to-lovers romance is now available on all platforms.



Blurb:

“In the end, only three things matter. How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” - Unknown

It was a big lie. The biggest lie she’d ever told. It reverberated through her head as she said it, ringing eerily, and the girl behind her eyes—the girl who knew the truth—screamed, and her scream echoed along with the lie.
“Are you in love with Noah, Mercedes?” Cora asked. “I mean . . . I know you love him. You’ve been friends forever. We all have. But are you in love with him?”

If it had been anyone else—anyone—Mercedes would have stuck out her chest, folded her skinny arms, and let her feelings be known. She would have claimed him. But it was Cora. Brave, beautiful, broken Cora, and Cora loved Noah too.
So Mercedes lied.
And with that lie, she lost him. With that lie, she sealed her fate.
She was the best friend, the bridesmaid, the godmother, the glue. She was there for the good times and the bad, the ups and downs, the biggest moments and the smallest parts. And she was there when it all came crashing down.

This is the tale of the girl who didn’t get the guy.






Purchase links:


➜ Paperback: http://amzn.to/2Eibfh6
➜ Kindle 🇺🇸: http://amzn.to/2jrXE06
➜ Kindle 🇬🇧: http://amzn.to/2FGauOg
➜ Kindle 🇦🇺: amazon.com.au/dp/B077GMCKXF
➜ Kindle 🇨🇦: amazon.ca/dp/B077GMCKXF
➜ Kobo: http://bit.ly/2z90iip
➜ Nook: http://bit.ly/2yNSaQp
➜ iBooks: http://apple.co/2yNKNbn

Cover design: By Hang Le - http://www.byhangle.com/



●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●



About the author:


Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in eighteen different languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Amy Harmon has written thirteen novels - the USA Today Bestsellers The Bird and The Sword, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as the #1 Amazon bestselling historical From Sand and Ash, The Queen and The Cure, The Law of Moses, The Song of David, Infinity + One, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her novels The Bird and the Sword and From Sand and Ash were Goodreads Best Books of 2016 and 2017 finalists.



Find Amy online:

Website: www.authoramyharmon.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoramyharmon
Facebook fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/amyharmon
Twitter: https://twitter.com/aharmon_author
Instagram: https://instagram.com/amy.harmon2/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Harmon/e/B007V3HXUY
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5829056.Amy_Harmon
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amy-harmon
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/P5AJP
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authoramyharmon/


REVIEW


The Smallest Part
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: The Smallest Part
Series: Standalone (characters connected to The Law of Moses series)
Author: Amy Harmon
Release date: February 13, 2018
Cliffhanger: No


  
      "We’re more than just a collection of bones, cobbled together by God or eons of evolution. We have souls. We have purpose. We’re more.”

I must admit, when I first saw the announcement for this book, I was wary. The love triangle trope is one that I stay far, far away from, and this one promised to be the mother of all love triangles. It's not that I shy away from angst in general, but triangles have just never been a favorite of mine. It wasn't until I found out that this story was about Dr. Noah Andelin, the psychologist from The Law of Moses that I immediately rushed to sign up. That was one of the few books that made me ugly cry (It hurt so good), and there was no doubt in my mind that I needed to read Noah's own journey to happiness.

The Smallest Part is about the strength and power of friendship first and foremost. It's about a love that you sacrifice for, an unselfish love that withstands time and tribulations. It has the feel of a second chance romance with a slow, unhurried burn between Noah and Mercedes. These two were straddling the friendship line when they were younger, but she quietly took a step back. Her heart was bruised ever since. They never got the chance to explore what could have been, but the years they spent together as children built a core of loyalty and love that could never be broken. We learn about the relationship between Cora, Noah, and Mer through short flashbacks. When they were the Three Amigos. Three kids who didn't have much at all, except for each other.

Mercedes is the tiny friend, but don't let her size fool you. When she loved you, it was freely and fiercely. There were no half measures with her.

    "She was the best friend, the bridesmaid, the godmother, the glue. She was there for the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs, the biggest moments and the smallest parts. And she was there when it all came crashing down."

Noah was lacking a true family, and a sense of belonging. His mother was indifferent and neglectful, and his father could have been any face in a crowd. When he found Mer, and then Cora, the affection he found with them was an oasis for a boy who was desperately thirsty for love. He had no parental guidance to speak of. Yet there was a wisdom and substance to him from the beginning that ripened so sweetly as he matured into a man.

Cora was the fragile one. When she was a child, she witnessed something horribly traumatic and something broke inside of her. To be completely honest, I can't say that I really understood Cora. The more the book wore on, I felt like the less I knew her. Her behavior, motivations and thought processes were a mystery to me, and I could have really used some chapters or segments from her POV. I understood that she was always protected by the other two, and that's understandable considering the type of love they had for her. But her actions were not those of a true friend, I just could not accept many of the selfish things she had done.

     If Cora was wind, Mer was rock. Noah didn’t know what that made him, but he’d been changed by both.

In the present time, Noah and Mercedes' relationship faces its most difficult test yet. Like everything else in their life, they do it side by side. Together. Until secrets start to become unearthed and their choices in dealing with them have alarming consequences. Personally, I was pretty angry at Mercedes for a little while, more so than Noah. I don't feel as if their failure to communicate canceled each other out, because what she was concealing had a direct and monumental effect on him. It was something that he needed to know. He wasn't right either, but it wasn't as much of a betrayal for him to keep quiet in my opinion. I'm attempting to stay nonspecific here to avoid spoilers, so my apologies on my vagueness.

At times, I was frustrated with Mercedes for resembling a martyr. I wanted her to stand up, demand the things in life that she deserved unapologetically. She was such a giving person, with a beautiful loving soul, but she didn't know how to ask for love and respect in return. She was so good at keeping everyone else together, and keeping them happy, that she lost some of herself along the way.

The feelings that Noah and Mer had for each other were electric. They were two live wires that dance around each other until they finally made that explosive spark. Amy was definitely more descriptive in this book when it came to the physical side of the relationship, however it was done in order for the reader to understand the emotions they were struggling with as they transitioned past friendship. The focus was emotional rather than the physical release, and I think she handled it exquisitely.


      For a moment their eyes clashed and clung, and an inaudible series of clicks—left, right, left, unlock—echoed in her head and reverberated in her chest. It was a lethal combination, and they were opening the safe.

The Smallest Part explored so many topics, and in such an eloquent way. Amy has a way of describing things that makes you examine them like you never have before. If you're a fan of the connected series, this is a must read. But even if you're not familiar with them, you'll probably want to after meeting Moses here. The bonus scenes we get with him here made my heart sing. If you're looking for an emotional and heartwarming story, grab this one now!


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Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen





  


BROOKLYNAIRE by Sarina Bowen 
Release Date: February12, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance 
Rating: 4 stars


Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Kobo | Nook





Synopsis:

A sexy new standalone from USA Today bestseller Sarina Bowen.


You’d think a billion dollars, a professional hockey team and a six-bedroom mansion on the Promenade would satisfy a guy. You’d be wrong.

For seven years Rebecca has brightened my office with her wit and her smile. She manages both my hockey team and my sanity. I don’t know when I started waking in the night, craving her. All I know is that one whiff of her perfume ruins my concentration. And her laugh makes me hard.

When Rebecca gets hurt, I step in to help. It’s what friends do. But what friends don’t do is rip off each others’ clothes for a single, wild night together.

Now she’s avoiding me. She says we’re too different, and it can never happen again. So why can’t we keep our hands off each other?



EXCERPT

I grab a towel off a waiting stack of them and toss it onto the edge. “You can sit and put your feet in.”

She’s wearing a short little knit dress that’s been making me crazy all evening, so it would be easy enough for her to strip off those stockings, sit on the towel, and drop both feet in.

And that’s what she does. She eases one stocking down over a smooth knee and tugs it off.

I don’t want to stand there staring like a middle-school boy. Okay, I do want to. But I don’t want to make her uncomfortable. So I go over to the sound system instead, and I set my phone on the speaker and cue up a really old playlist. One she’ll recognize.

When I turn around again, she’s seated on the towel, both legs hanging down into the churning water. “Ah. Wow.” She looks up at me, her eyes sparkling. “Nice place you got here.”

“Isn’t it?” I toe off my shoes and kick them to the side.

The first song comes on, and it’s a Macklemore tune that we used to play far too often in our first office. Rebecca laughs immediately. “You didn’t! I haven’t heard this playlist in forever. But I’ll bet I still know every transition. Lady Gaga is next.”

“She sure is.”

Rebecca kicks her feet, making a splash. “I have a little confession to make.”

“What’s that?” I loosen my tie and slide the knot out.

“Well…” She grins up at me. “I used to have a crush on you. Back in the early days.”

My hands freeze on the tie silk. “Get out of town. You did not.”

“No, I really did.” Her cheeks are pink. “That first year especially. But you were taken, and you were my boss. Those two things made it pretty easy to tamp down, when you’re a practical girl like me.”

I walk over and drop down beside her, my back to the water, though, because I’m still wearing trousers and socks. “So how does that work, exactly?”

“What?” She gives me a sidelong glance, but then looks away again and won’t meet my eyes.

“How do you stop wanting someone? I’m a practical person, but I don’t see how that makes it any easier. Nothing seems to mute the raging attraction I have for you.”

Her chin turns quickly toward me, and I seize the opportunity to kiss her. And it only takes one kiss—one slide of my lips over hers, and I’m on fire again.

We’re facing opposite directions, so it’s awkward as hell. But I don’t even care. I take greedy sip after greedy sip of her mouth, until she pulls back to stare at me. Her color is high and her eyes are bright and happy. “This is like Twister.”

“It’s better,” I correct. Lady Gaga comes on, just as Becca said she would. “Are we getting into this pool or what?”

Becca kicks a foot in the water. “I’m tempted. But I don’t have a bathing suit.”

“Oh, snap.”

She smiles and shakes her head. “Are you really getting in?”

“We don’t have to.” I’m never going to pressure her.

Her fingers trail across the surface of the bubbling water. “But this is an adventure, right?”

“Right.” I stand up and remove my socks. She’s watching me. And I can’t read her expression. “What?”

“Just wondering what else you’re going to take off.” She smiles.

“Come here.” The order rolls off my tongue.

But Rebecca doesn’t blink. She gets up and turns toward me, curiosity in her eyes.

“You tell me. What am I taking off?”

She puts two hands tentatively on my chest, and I make myself be patient. Everything I ever wanted is on the other side of this moment. I just need us to break through this awkwardness—the “will we or won’t we” tension.

Her fingers find the top button of my shirt. “I’m not getting in the water unless you are.”

That’s a compromise I can live with. I find my lower shirt buttons and work upwards, until we meet in the middle. She pushes the two halves of my shirt apart and runs a hand down my bare chest.

My inner caveman stands up and cheers.





REVIEW

Brooklynaire

I’ve known Nate’s mind for years, but his body is a foreign country I’ve never visited before. Somehow I already speak the language.

After finishing a pretty heavy book, Brooklynaire was just the sweet and light read that I was craving. It was low on the drama, high on the sass, laughs, and fun. Another bonus? Despite the the page count hitting the 450 range, it didn't feel like I was reading a lengthy book. I never felt as if it was dragging, in fact, I could have continued the nerdy Nate goodness even longer and not batted an eye. Friends to lovers trope + nerdy genius + Sarina's chuckle inducing brand of humor = another sports romance win.

Becca has known Nate for seven years, before he became a billionaire and owner of the Brooklyn Bruisers. For five years, she worked side by side with him as his assistant and saw him through success and despair. They were more than just boss/employee. They were the best of friends who understood each other at a cellular level. They had inside jokes, they drank tequila together when life brought them down, they geeked out to palindromes. They also silently suffered crushes on each other and buried them for the sake of their friendship.

Becca is just the type of heroine I like to read about. She's tough, highly independent, loyal to her friends and family, and a woman who works hard and doesn't like to stay idle. So it goes without saying that when she gets a head injury on the job, she's completely distressed and agitated over not being able to heal properly and get back to work. Her sense of equilibrium is out of whack in more ways than one, and she can't seem to turn back her internal settings to the home position.

This is where Nate steps in. His worry and protectiveness over her was absolutely wonderful. There was a level of comfort and ease with each other that you only get when two people sail past the bullshit and land in the keeping it real zone. I loved the little flashbacks we got that gave us a front seat to how their relationship began, and how it matured into the bond that they have now.

It’s hard to pinpoint when I stopped looking at Bec like a friend and started dreaming about her. It started sometime after the Juliet fiasco, when I couldn’t help but notice how Rebecca was always there in my life, making every day better.

Becca may have a bit of an inferiority complex towards him because of his accomplishments and success, but she isn't afraid to speak her mind and put him in his place. Not that he really needed that, because he was pretty much the epitome of respectful and sweet.

These two have spent many long years trying to ignore and deny the deep attraction and feeling of completion they give each other. But after she moves in with him temporarily while she's recovering, Nate is unable to keep a lid on his passion for her for very long. Though he's known for being quiet and unreadable, with Becca, he's like an open book. He can't conceal how much he cares about her, and the sexual tension that crackles between them is noticeable to everyone in their orbit.

Though he tries his hardest to navigate them gracefully past friendship, naturally there are going to be worries over taking the risk with their friendship that stand in their way. He never pressures her, but lets her set the pace, and bides his time. On top of that, Becca is determined to not lose the respect of her co-workers and the team by entering into a relationship with the owner. I was a little worried at first that this conflict would drag and keep them apart for too long, but that wasn't the case at all. Fortunately, they build trust in each other and tackle that hurdle gradually without any frustration. His own issues over women using him for his money were a non-issue from the start because he knew Becca never did, and never would look at him with dollar bills in her eyes. She loved him for the man he was, and that was yet another reason in his mind that they fit so flawlessly.

There was a lot to enjoy in Brooklynaire. It was sexy, entertaining, and sweet friends to lovers romance that was low on angst. The sneaking around/secret relationship because of the team's opinion aspect wasn't the most original conflict for me. It made sense, but I've read it a lot in the genre so I need something a little different. However, that didn't detract from my overall enjoyment all that much, and I know most wouldn't even be bothered by it. If you're looking for something to satisfy your sports romance appetite, look no further. Nate and Becca are sure to deliver the goods.


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Friday, February 9, 2018

Cover Reveal: Spark by S.L. Scott




Title: Spark
Author: S.L. Scott
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: RBA Designs
Release Date: February 22, 2018



Blurb

One break is all The Crow Brothers need and we’re about to get it.

Johnny Outlaw, rock legend and lead singer of The Resistance, is here to watch us play. But he’s not the only familiar face in the crowd—killer little body, heart-shaped face, and drop-dead gorgeous.

Hannah Nichols sitting at the bar makes it hard to concentrate, sparks already reigniting. The beauty was never a groupie and tonight she’s not here to catch our show. She came to drop a bomb. “You have a son.”

She underestimated me. I’ll prove to my son, and her, that I can be the dad he needs.

What is it about musicians? Why are they so damn sexy?

My heart was Jet Crow’s the moment he opened his sexy mouth and sang that first song. One stolen night with that man would never be enough, but I’m not here to fall into his bed. Again. I’m here to fight for custody of a son he’s never known.

There’s just one problem. Those sparks between us have become flames. If we’re not careful we’re both going to get burned.







Author Bio


Living in the capital of Texas with her family, Scott loves traveling and avocados, beaches, and cooking with her kids. She's obsessed with epic romances and loves a good plot twist. Her favorite color is blue, but she likens it more toward the sky than the emotion. Her home is filled with the welcoming symbol of the pineapple and finds surfing a challenge though she likes to think she's a pro.


Author Links

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Release Day Blast: The Cracks Duet/How the Light Gets In by L.H. Cosway


We're celebrating the release of A CRACK IN EVERYTHING by L.H. Cosway!

How the Light Gets in
He came back to me 16 minutes and 59 seconds into Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7.

We parted amid tragedy, so it seemed poetic. Dylan O’Dea, my childhood sweetheart, had once
meant everything to me. Now we were strangers, and honestly, after eleven years I never thought
I’d see him again.

I lived in the world of the average, of getting paid by the hour and budgeting to make ends meet. But
Dylan, he lived in the world of wealth and success. He’d achieved the great things I always suspected
he would. The dissatisfaction he’d felt as a teenager had obviously been an excellent motivator.

He started a business from scratch, pioneered a brand, and created perfumes adored by women
across the globe. I was just one of the people who’d been there before. Now he was living his best
life in the after.

And me, well, I’d been in a dark place for a while. Slowly but surely, I was letting the light back in, but there was something missing. I was an unfinished sentence with an ellipsis at the end. And maybe, if I was brave enough to take the chance, Dylan could be my happy ending.

How the Light Gets In is Book #2 and the concluding installment in L.H. Cosway’s Cracks duet.




DON'T MISS THE FIRST BOOK IN THIS DUET!!!

 
Title: A Crack In Everything (Cracks Duet)
Age Group: Adult
Release Date: January 30, 2018
A Crack in Everything
Life used to be simple.

I was a city girl with humble dreams. Then Dylan O’Dea broke into my flat, held me against the wall and told me to stay quiet.

It was like in the movies, where the universe zeros in on a single scene. I looked into his eyes and knew he was going to change me.

For Dylan, the sky was always falling. He showed me how our world is a contradiction of beauty and ugliness. How we choose to ignore the awful and gloss over it with the palatable. How you need just a tiny drop of something unsavoury to create every great scent.

Pretty deep for a pair of teenagers living in a block of council flats in inner city Dublin, right Probably. But we weren’t typical. We both had our obsessions. Mine was growing things, Dylan’s was scent. He taught me how to use my nose, and I introduced him to the magic of flowers.

I had no idea that one day he’d build an empire from what we started together. But before that, there was love and happiness, tragedy and epic heartbreak…

My name is Evelyn Flynn and I’m going to tell you about the crack in everything.

A Crack in Everything is Book #1 in L.H. Cosway’s Cracks duet.

About the author:

L.H. Cosway lives in Dublin, Ireland. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favourite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books. She thinks that imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories. L.H. is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Social Media Links:FB: www.facebook.com/LHCosway
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LHCosway
Instagram: www.instagram.com/l.h.cosway
Website: www.lhcoswayauthor.com
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lhcosway13/

Monday, February 5, 2018

Blog Tour with Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton





Title: Next Year in Havana

Author: Chanel Cleeton
Release date: February 6, 2018
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin/Berkley








Book Summary:


After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.





Book Links:


Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pdQBKF
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2pYsJJY
iBooks: http://apple.co/2pvYffq
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2zrt11m
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2wPZPMU
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34374628-next-year-in-havana

Learn more about Next Year in Havana including downloading the book club guide and more Here


Add Beatriz Perez’s story WHEN WE LEFT CUBA on Goodreads here.







Praise for Next Year in Havana:

Chanel Cleeton's Next Year In Havana is a flat-out stunner of a book, at once a dual-timeline mystery, a passionate romance, and paean to the tragedy and beauty of war-torn Cuba. The story of sugar heiress Elisa, watching Cuba fall into revolution as Castro rises, is intertwined with the modern-day tale of Elisa's granddaughter Marisol as she returns to Cuba after Castro's death. Both women fall for fire-brand revolutionaries, but Cuba itself emerges as their true love-interest, threatening to break both women's hearts as Elisa and Marisol each grapple in their own way with what it is to be Cuban, what it is to be an exile, and how to love and live in a homeland riven by revolution. Simply wonderful!

- Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

Cleeton has penned an atmospheric, politically insightful, and highly hopeful homage to a lost world. Devour NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA and you, too, will smell the perfumed groves, taste the ropa vieja, and feel the sun on your face. Just a wonderful and educational book!

- Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America's First Daughter

A vivid, transporting novel. Next Year in Havana is about journeys-- into exile, into history, and into questions of home and identity. It's an engrossing read.



- David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife

An evocative, passionate story of family loyalty and forbidden love that moves seamlessly between the past and present of Cuba’s turbulent history— how one young woman’s sacrifice becomes the key to her granddaughter’s future—how culture and spirit survive against all odds. Next Year in Havana kept me enthralled and savoring every word.

- Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Whisper Beach
In Next Year in Havana, Chanel Cleeton's prose is as beautiful as Cuba itself, and the story she weaves--of exile and loss, memory and myth, forbidden love and enduring friendship--is at once sweeping and beautifully intimate. This is a moving, heartfelt, and gorgeously realized story that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

- Jennifer Robson, USA Today bestselling author of Somewhere in France


Author Information:



Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton 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.



Author Links:

Website: www.chanelcleeton.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorchanelcleeton

Facebook Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1545366192398558/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/chanelcleeton

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/chanelcleeton

Newsletter: www.chanelcleeton.com/mailing-list/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/chanelcleeton/



Review


Next Year in Havana

Rating: 4 stars




Governments change, regimes fall, alliances shift— with so much that lies out of our hands, it seems like love is the easiest and only thing worth trusting.

Next Year in Havana is a book that explores the Cuban heritage and history with acute detail and the deepest love. If there was one truth I could share about this story, it would be that Cleeton has created something meaningful, a book that has authenticity and heart permeating every single word. You cannot read this book and not examine your own life and the blessing of freedom that you have been given. The Cuban people have endured intense suffering, injustice, and fear with pragmatic determination to overcome every obstacle. All with the hope that there will someday be a better tomorrow, a chance to finally be free and undivided.

There are two alternating timelines, the first takes place in 1958/1959 during tumultuous revolutionary Cuba, centering around nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez and her family. Each side of the story had a purpose and a destination, cautiously and carefully unfolding truths and heartbreaks in order to bring you full circle in the end. Personally I feel as if I was more invested in Elisa's timeline: her unexpected forbidden love as the violent rebellion broke out all around her. Her family members were all fascinating in their own right, most especially Beatrix who is destined for greatness. She had such courage, charisma, and fiery passion that she stole the scene throughout the entire book.

Elisa was such a brave and kind woman, and it was a treat to read from her perspective. Not just getting to know her as a person, but discovering what it was like to live through such turmoil and uncertainty was an eye opening experience. Elisa grew up in a pampered lifestyle, a pretty bird in a gilded cage. That veneer of safety was bought and paid for by her father by siding with a dictator, a sacrifice he was willing to make in order for them to have a semblance of a comfortable life. This life they had grown accustomed to was far from stable, and they were going to have to redefine survival when their country is completely torn apart.

The whole time we were pretending our way of life was fine, the “paradise” we’d created was really a fragile deal with a mercurial devil, and the ground beneath us shifted and cracked, destroying the world as we knew it.

I admired Elisa for finding the courage to form her own opinions and discover more than what was inside her sheltered, structured world. Her love affair with Pablo was reckless, but showed her loving and open heart. She wanted to see the best in everyone, she became a champion for this man who fought for everything her family stood against. She was torn by a deeply entrenched family loyalty and the idealism for reform that Pablo had introduced her to.

He is here. I love him. There's nothing else.

From the very beginning, we know that the Perez family will eventually flee Havana and start a new life in the United States. They may have been forced into exile from their homeland, but the hearts, minds and spirits will never let go of the precious memories they hold of the years before they lost everything. Family heirlooms were buried and hidden away, their dreams of returning one day were the only thing they could cling to. A large part of the book explores the dichotomy between the exiles, and those who stayed and gambled on the regime.

Both sides love Cuba, they just do it in different ways. Some love it so much they can’t leave; others love it so much, they cannot stay.”

In the second timeline we meet Elisa's granddaughter Marisol, who is tasked with bringing her grandmother's ashes back home to their final resting place. There, she meets her grandmother's best friend Ana, and her grandson Luis. Acting as her tour guide as she researches for an article she's writing, an instant attraction sparks that quickly burns out of control. During her trip to Havana, she must reconcile the stories she was told of her family's home to the desperation and poverty that the regime has wrought. She struggles to find her place in everything, and her identity when she feels as if everything she knew about her grandmother is nothing at all. Her family has secrets that when uncovered will rock her entire foundation.

Even though we share the same heritage, as hard as I search for commonalities between us, as much as I want to belong here, the differences are glaring. I am Cuban, and yet, I am not. I don’t know where I fit here, in the land of my grandparents, attempting to recreate a Cuba that no longer exists in reality.

The speed with which Marisol fell head over heels for Luis wasn't entirely working for me, being only a matter of a few days. But I was invested all the same, and curious to see if the romantic parallel would continue on until the end, or if the would forge a path of hope with each other somehow. Additionally, I felt as if it took me a long time to wade through the political history and that slowed down my reading experience considerably. At times I felt as if the history on the government became repetitive, and bogged down the pace unnecessarily. Did I still adore the strong female protagonists, the rich setting, and the greater understanding I developed for this country? Unequivocally, yes!

With the short teaser at the end of the book for Beatiriz's story, it made me even more eager to continue on with the series to see her fully fleshed out and in the spotlight where she belongs.

When We Left Cuba will have a release date in 2019 TBA.


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