by Chanel Cleeton
Genres: Historical Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
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.
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton is quite the departure from Cleeton’s contemporary romance series, but she delivered a rich, detailed historical fiction with an air of mystery and a look into Cuba’s history, culture, and people.
I adored Cleeton’s Wild Aces series, and have dabbled in a few of her other romances but was curious to read Next Year in Havana when Cleeton announced this was her passion and what she intends to continue writing. She paints a rich tapestry as she shares the story of a young woman fulfilling her deceased grandmother’s wishes of scattering her ashes in her ancestral home of Cuba.
Told from multiple perspectives the story alternates between present day and those of Havana, 1958 before Fidel Castro took power.
- Havana, 1958. Elisa Perez is the privileged daughter of a sugar baron. Cuba is on the cusp of great change as revolutionaries rebel against Batista under the leadership of a young Castro. Eliza is nineteen years old when she meets Pablo at a party. The two share a secret romance. Pablo is one of Castro’s men, and Eliza’s father aligns himself with Batista. Cleeton brought their romance, the climate and strain of the times to life over the course of a year.
- Present day. Marisol is the young granddaughter of Elisa Perez and arrives in present-day Cuba with her grandmother’s ashes. She stays in the home of Rose, Elisa’s childhood friend. Rose gives Marisol a box that her grandmother buried in her backyard before fleeing Cuba. Inside she discovers love letters from an unknown man. Together with Rose’s son, Luis, she looks for answers.
The story shares two romances, but don’t expect happily ever after(s). Next Year in Havana is a beautiful, poignant story that allows the reader to see, breath and experience Cuba both past and present. It shares the story of a proud people who have suffered, survived and most of all loved their native land. Like most Americans, I have a textbook knowledge of the history of Cuba and its political history with the United States. Having lived in Florida, I know how strong the Cuban communities are, heard stores daily of attempts made to flee Cuba by vessel and reach Florida’s coastal shores, and the painful stories of families separated, so I appreciated Cleeton’s story.
Both Elisa and Marisol are proud, strong Cuban women and their voices and actions felt genuine. I wept for Elisa, admired how she moved forward and was happy with the way her story ended. Marisol’s story was satisfying as she sought answered. Those answers will take her on a new journey. Her story/romance had an open ending that left me filled with hope.
Fans of historical fiction will be transported to Cuba in this bittersweet tale of family, love, loss and the beautiful country that runs through their veins. The next book will feature Elisa’s sister.
[bctt tweet=”A bittersweet tale of family, love, loss and the beautiful country that runs through their veins. Fans of historical fiction will be transported to Cuba in Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. ” username=”kimbacaffeinate”]
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I haven’t heard of this one before! I haven’t read anything set in Havana either. I am definitely adding this one to my to read list. 😀 😀
So worth the read!
Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books
Wasn’t this wonderful? I loved the Cuban setting. I liked the two stories and thought that Elisa’s story ended appropriately. Definitely looking forward to more like this one.
I agree about Elisa’s story even if I cried.
This one sounds good. I’d love to learn about Cuba. When I saw the title of the book, Camila Cabello’s song, “Havana,” popped into my head and played.
Now I am off to google Camila’s song 🙂
Interesting time period to use as a backdrop…and one that is not frequently used. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for the post.
Yes, I read somewhere she grew up on family stories about Cuba.
Tyler H. Jolley
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Kimba. I really hope to go there one day, but maybe after things are a little more settled. Hope you’re feeling better.
Yes. I still tire easily, but man it feels good to breathe and have a loose cough.
Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
The cover pretty much sold me and I do love a book about family secrets and uncovering the past. This sounds wonderful and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the heads up about the HEA. I don’t mind the lack of that if it isn’t actually a romance but it is always nice to know going in. This sounds like it completely lives up to the gorgeous cover!
It really did Katherine. I hope you decide to try it.
Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews
This sounds fantastic, Kim! I love stories that go back and forth between the past and the present. If the book also takes me on a trip to a place I haven’t been before, it’s even better!
Great review 🙂
I do too and this was wonderful. I hope you get a chance to read it!
Lovely review! I haven’t read any of her previous books but this one has become very popular indeed. I’ve never read a book set in Cuba and I’m fascinated by the rich culture and beautiful architecture and landscape.
I am glad she is following her passion.
Pretty cover. I don’t read many historical fiction though I do like the setting.
My first time to Cuba.
I love historicals written this way, I got a copy myself so I cannot wait to dive in 😀
Jenea's Book Obsession
I enjoyed this one so much too. Cuba is somewhere i would like to visit one day.
She really brought it to life. I found myself Googling sites.
Oh yes, this definitely had a bittersweet quality that had me full of emotion. I loved it and how she really made Cuba come alive for me. I can’t wait for Beatriz’s story.
Yes, I am excited to see what happens.
I saw this one around and I confess that I was curious about the setting!
I haven’t read anything set in Cuba, so it was interesting.
I just picked this one up and will hopefully get to it this week. I know Nick loved it so I’m curious to see if I will as well. Glad you liked it Kim and I hope you are feeling better!
Yay. I am glad you grabbed it. I am doing better. I get tired super fast but each day I clear up more.
I have heard nothing but good things about this book. I have always been fascinated by Cuba’s rich history and culture.
I am so glad. I haven’t read any reviews yet, but will now.
I’m really intrigued by the history this novel holds. With the US finally opening access to Cuba, it is an interesting place that I’d love to visit one day.
Agreed. I spent some time Googling some of the sites she mentioned. It would be worth it for the architecture alone.
I’m so glad you liked this one, Kim! It’s one of my favorites of the year already and it made me feel SO MUCH. I love all the history and the characters. Gahh! I’m ready to re-read! 🙂
Oh yes, I wept Nick. I am excited about the next one.
I love the cover and your review. Just that fact that this is open ended and leaves you with feeling like you want to read more. I love those kinds of books. They make me eager to read the next. I am going to have to get this one. Two romances, twice the fun!
I hope you do, and yes a line in this book has me very intrigued by the next sister’s story.
havana unana =d i don’t mind a romance without happily ever after
Right. One of my favorite romances was in the movie Titanic and look how that ended.
I have heard only good things. And honestly I can not say if I have ever even read a book set there
I haven’t Linda. So this was a nice change.