Review: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

I have been a big fan of Chanel Cleeton for a while now. I have loved all her books and whenever I see that she has a new book coming out, I fan-girl pretty hard! But this book in particular made me really fan-girl. Most of Cleeton’s have a strong historical fiction component but it’s mostly 1930s or 1950s/60s time period, which is fine but its truthfully not my favorite time in history.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Cleeton’s books but historically, the modern era isn’t my fav, but when I saw this book was coming out and it was set at the end of the 19th century, I couldn’t contain my excitement because that is my favorite time period! Since reading her books, I have come to really appreciate Cuban history. It’s history that I know nothing about but Cleeton makes me want to know all the Cuban things!

If you love historical fiction but haven’t read Cleeton’s books, you need to just stop reading this review and go grab one! Her books are so unique in their setting and history that you can’t help but be transported. There is a romance element but for me the real interest is in the history part, I mean I love the romance but the history is just so different and I truly feel like I am reading something fresh and new every time I read one of her books!

Summary

At the end of the nineteenth century, three revolutionary women fight for freedom in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel inspired by real-life events and the true story of a legendary Cuban woman–Evangelina Cisneros–who changed the course of history.

A feud rages in Gilded Age New York City between newspaper tycoons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. When Grace Harrington lands a job at Hearst’s newspaper in 1896, she’s caught in a cutthroat world where one scoop can make or break your career, but it’s a story emerging from Cuba that changes her life.

Unjustly imprisoned in a notorious Havana women’s jail, eighteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros dreams of a Cuba free from Spanish oppression. When Hearst learns of her plight and splashes her image on the front page of his paper, proclaiming her, “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba,” she becomes a rallying cry for American intervention in the battle for Cuban independence. 

With the help of Marina Perez, a courier secretly working for the Cuban revolutionaries in Havana, Grace and Hearst’s staff attempt to free Evangelina. But when Cuban civilians are forced into reconcentration camps and the explosion of the USS Maine propels the United States and Spain toward war, the three women must risk everything in their fight for freedom. (summary from Goodreads)

Review

If I had to describe Cleeton’s books in one word it would be authentic. Every time I read one of her books, the research is top shelf and the writing is well crafted and elegant. I simply adore her books and cannot rave about them enough! The stories of the women are alway compelling, different, and fully realized. In this one I absolutely loved Evangelina! I thought that Beatriz was my favorite heroine of Cleeton’s but then came Evangelina and now she has taken that honor. I loved Evangelina and felt completely invested in her story. Grace and Marina were also developed and well researched but for me it was Evangeline that stood out as the most memorable.

As with Cleeton’s other books, this one pulled me in immediately and I became wrapped up in all the history, characters, and or course the romance elements. I do not want to give too much away about this book because I think it would appeal to so many readers. Even if you don’t love historical fiction, this book (as well as all her others) are well researched and interesting. She writes about patriotism, history, strong female characters, and the setting is exotic and simply different. So many historical fiction books are set in England or France during WWII and Cleeton’s books take us to Cuba during many different historical time periods so we can understand the complexity of the Cuban and American relationship. Her books are simply amazing, so just read them!

I will say though, that this one had a different feel than the others. It felt a little heavier than some of her other books but it was still an amazing read. I think what made it heavier for me was the reconcentration camps. But do not let the heavier content sway you or put you off to this one. It’s such a great story and I adored it even if it was a little heavier. It was a wonderful novel and I cannot say enough great things about this latest ‘Cuban novel’ from Cleeton. Is you want beautiful story telling, amazing research, and something different this is the author for you! Go read this book!

Book Info and Rating

Format320 pages, Hardcover

PublishedMay 4, 2021 by Berkley

ISBN9780593098875 (ISBN10: 0593098870)

Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: historical fiction

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