I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Cuban Heiress by Chanel Cleeton
Also by this author: Next Year in Havana, When We Left Cuba, The Last Train to Key West, The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba, Our Last Days in Barcelona
Published by Berkley on April 11, 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 336 •Format: E-ARC •Source: NetGalley
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.
I’ve had the privilege of receving ARCs for several Chanel Cleeton’s Cuba inspired historical fiction books, and they have never let me down. I’m pleased that The Cuban Heiress continues this tradition, as I thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced historical mystery!
Set aboard the real-life cruise ship the SS Morro Castle, the novel follows two women, Elena and Catherine, who are both on the ship at the same time for its week long journey from New York to Havana and back again. Told in alternating POVs, both women’s true motives slowly unravel- and eventually intertwine- over the course of the week both on board the ship as well as in Havana when the ship docks, eventually culminating in an action packed finale that leads to a tragedy at sea.
I don’t want to mention too many specifics since this story is really a mystery at its core and it’s hard to review without spoilers, but I really enjoyed this one! It was a bit of a change of pace from the other Cuba novels Cleeton has written (though I’ve loved those!) and definitely had an almost Agatha Christie vibe with the ship location and the 1920s setting. While I do wish it had been a touch longer (I would love for there to have been more time spent in Havana) it was refreshing to read such an action packed story with no filler- I felt every scene had a purpose to further the plot while still making me feel like I was getting invested with the characters. There was even a romance that I came to absolutely adore (and usually I am one complaining about how romances are unnecessary in other genres and bloat the narrative).
While The Cuban Heiress didn’t necessarily feature Cuba as a “character” as prominently as Cleeton’s other books have (where the country was its own, larger than life actress on the stage of the story) it offered a slightly newer style from the author in the form of a true mystery centered novel (in my opinion) as well as a true revenge story. I would love to see more mystery focused novels from Cleeton in the future, and hope she continues with the Cuban focused stories (I would love a master family tree of how all of the characters are related across what are essentially companion novels).
Overall: Another engaging and well-researched novel from Chanel Cleeton with a mystery twist! I will keep reading these Cuba-centric stories as long as she keeps writing them!