Book Review

ARC Blog Tour and Book Review: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba (The Cuba Saga #4) by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Historical fiction + Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK 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.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own!

BEAUTIFUL STORY.

I have continually enjoyed reading Cleeton’s historical fiction books. They take me into a time of history that I know little about and add a dash of romance that I appreciate. This was another solid combination of both.

There’s three points-of-view in this story (as in her previous). Sometimes I wish the novel as a whole was longer so that I could get more of each woman’s story. The backgrounds and nuances of each character are remarkedly different and it’s easy to get caught up in what’s happening.

This time period of Cuba trying to break away from Spain was really great to learn more about. I hope to research some more because I feel like this only skimmed some of the surface. I had no idea about the dominating world of journalism at the time and the truly terrible conditions Cubans were facing from Spain. One of my favorite parts of the historical fiction genre is the inspiration to further gain knowledge on the time period and people brought to life.

Not to mention, I always love the subtle romances that work their way into my heart. They aren’t generally a heavy part of the plot, but it gives some hope and angst to the book. It’s the best little touch that I think always fits well.

My only major complaint was the pacing. I would get into one story line then jump too quickly to a different one. Or things would be too slow for too long which had me begging for some more action segments. Besides this, a really beautiful novel. I look forward to continue reading Cleeton’s books!

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses, closed door scenes
  • Violence: battles, wars, physical altercations, gun violence, kidnappings, ship explosions
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: being jailed without cause, reconcentration camps, losing loved ones, having to give up a child for a time (her child does come home eventually!), attempted sexual assault/rape, lewd remarks to women

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Arlem Hawks
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: January 12th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

1811, HMS Deborah

A Regency romance on the high seas.

As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls, and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, “George.”

Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. Determined to prove himself to his new captain, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the “boy” under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy’s secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent and hides his growing affection for her.

Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care but is convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable husband have slipped away.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for a copy of Georgana’s Secret in exchange for a review.

A HIGH SEAS SECRET ROMANCE.

I was fairly swept away by this tale. I found it full of adventure, some daring antics, and a romance. A great combination for an affair on the high seas.

The development of the connection between Dominic and Georgana was sweet. I liked how it grew out of friendship, but that also her secret didn’t stay secret too long. I hate when it’s dragged out and then leaves me flustered when everything comes out. This worked really well in that there was still plenty of time for them as well as the story as a whole.

I loved Georgana’s strong yet reserved nature. Trying to do the best she could in the situation she ended up in. Her nature to reach out rather than fight back was great, but I definitely loved when she fought back too. She and Dominic really had chemistry from the get go and I adored their banter and tender moments.

This was filled with a lot more than a bunch of people on a ship. I liked having scenery changes with landings, crossings with other ships, and back at home. This mix up kept everything from getting too stagnant and like I was stuck on a ship. It’s a regency story that has a vibrant and different setting.

I enjoyed the sweet little epilogue at the end and felt satisfied with how things worked out for all of the characters.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency Proper Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: ship battles, physical altercations, severe wounds and illness

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Book Review

Book Review: The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 979 pages
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Delta
Release Date: November 6th, 2001
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon mesmerized readers with her award-winning Outlander novels, four dazzling tales featuring eighteenth-century Scotsman James Fraser and his twentieth-century time-traveling wife, Claire Randall. Now, in this eagerly awaited fifth volume, Diana Gabaldon continues their extraordinary saga, a masterpiece of pure storytelling that is her most astonishing Outlander novel yet….

The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy—a time-traveler’ s certain knowledge. Claire’s unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead—or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes.

A MIDDLE BOOK.

First and foremost, I love this series. This book? A bit slow compared to the previous four.

I felt like it took until 600 pages before I was really wrapped up into it. While that’s clearly a long time to wait, It’s still just a book I can listen to and really get into. I like listening to the narrator. I love hearing the story and even when things aren’t as eventful, I enjoy being in the mundane-ness because I love Claire, Jamie, Roger and Bri.

There was a lot of random (to me) love scenes. I don’t inherently have a problem with them, I just personally like them to fit into the story rather than feel like they’re put their for page time. These felt more page time which is what took so long before the drama really started going down.

I liked what The Fiery Cross set up. Getting closer to the Revolutionary War is only going to increase many story lines and plots. There’s plenty of loose ends running around that I’m excited to get to the next book. Especially because one of my FAVORITE characters is back!!

For 1,000 pages I know I should [could?] have a lot more to say, but this series thrives off of keeping things as spoiler-free as possible. Since this is book 5 of 8 (or maybe more now!) I want to keep it brief.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction / romance
  • Language: some strong throughout
  • Romance: open and closed door scenes throughout
  • Violence: battles, physical, guns, hangings, animal attacks, snake bites, murder

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Book Review

Book Review: Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 904 pages
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Delta
Release Date: December 30th, 1996
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this breathtaking novel—rich in history and adventure—The New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon continues the story of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser that began with the now-classic novel Outlander and continued in Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager. Once again spanning continents and centuries, Diana Gabaldon has created a work of sheer passion and brilliance….

It began at an ancient Scottish stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Dr. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice.

Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became a legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in the American colonies. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century—their daughter, Brianna….

Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the circle of stones and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history … and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past … or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong.

FAVORITE ONE [YET].

I’ve sat on this review for awhile because sometimes I feel like it’s hard to write a review over a book you LOVED and when it’s 900 pages. That’s a lot to cover?!

This might be my favorite Outlander book [yet]. This was also the first one I listened to on audio! Such a great combination. The narration was solid and really brought the book to life. Claire and Jamie were amazing again (no surprise) and I love the simplicity of the story in that, we’re following their lives. Even if the story itself is crazy complicated. I enjoy seeing how life progresses for them and watching them choose each other over and over again.

Some of my new favorites are definitely Roger and Brianna. I might have been more invested in them for this book. I’m smitten for a good love story and this was definitely good. Plenty of intrigue, banter, and romance for them. I was surprised where the story went and love how everything clicked together.

There’s a hundred different things that happened throughout this. Moments that made me smile, one’s that made me enraged, and others that brought tears. I love the writing and the way these stories flow over time. Magical and exhilarating with many, many things in between. I’m trying to intentionally keep this vague because I don’t want to spoil this (and previous books). Plenty of things keep happening here so it was a great continuation of the series!

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a handful of open and closed door scenes (with ranging levels of detail)
  • Violence: physical, swords, guns, explosions, sickness, murder, see trigger warnings for more
  • Trigger warnings: [I know I have missed some and I apologize for those I did miss, please research before choosing this series, nothing is left out in regards to detail and some of the awfulness of this time period]: multiple depictions of enslaved Africans and racism (setting from 1760’s), lynching, death from an abortion attempt, animal attacks, rape, racism involving Native Americans, sexual assault, hate crimes

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