Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Cuban Heiress by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: Historical Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 11th, 2023
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


In 1934, a luxury cruise becomes a fight for survival as two women’s pasts collide on a round-trip voyage from New York to Havana in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s page-turning new novel inspired by the true story of the SS Morro Castle.

New York heiress Catherine Dohan seemingly has it all. There’s only one problem. It’s a lie. As soon as the Morro Castle leaves port, Catherine’s past returns with a vengeance and threatens her life. Joining forces with a charismatic jewel thief, Catherine must discover who wants her dead—and why.

Elena Palacio is a dead woman. Or so everyone thinks. After a devastating betrayal left her penniless and on the run, Elena’s journey on the Morro Castle is her last hope. Steeped in secrecy and a burning desire for revenge, her return to Havana is a chance to right the wrong that has been done to her—and her prey is on the ship.

As danger swirls aboard the Morro Castle and their fates intertwine, Elena and Catherine must risk everything to see justice served once and for all.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an eARC.


This is my new favorite Cleeton book. I have continually enjoyed her books over the years and this is once again, no different. I devoured this in two sittings because I could NOT put it down. I love the way the author put together this fast paced story yet with gorgeous writing had me completely connected to the characters and wondering what was going to happen next.

The plot follows a bit of a murder mystery on a ship vibe. With a swoony gem thief and an heiress with a secret. I loooved the way all of these secrets started coming to light. They were well timed pieces that would have me trying to read even faster not knowing how it would all end. I loooved both Elena and Catherine. I love anything that has a women supporting women vibe and these two + their tight friendship helped bring necessary justice to many wrongs.

Historical wise, I had never heard of this ship and one of my favorite parts of historical books is reading the note at the end about the specifics the author drew from. This felt fresh and unique in the historical fiction genre and I know is one of the best books I’ve read recently.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical Fiction + Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: closed door
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gun violence, multiple attempted murders, drownings, arson, loss of parents (recounted)

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