When We Left Cuba .jpg

In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life--and heart--to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

Beautiful. Daring. Deadly. 

The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez--her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost. 

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future--but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything--not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart...

April 9, 2019



Praise for When We Left Cuba


Instant New York Times bestseller!

When We Left Cuba is equal parts passionate romance and political thriller. . . You won’t be able to put this one down.


Both a hard-earned love story and a visceral account of history. Cleeton’s writing pulsates with passion and intimacy…. She’s long since established herself as a remarkable writer, but with When We Left Cuba, she’s written with a sublime force that keeps us tethered to her words.

The Washington Post

Has sex, drama, suspense…and pairs perfectly with a mojito.


Brimming with rich 1960s-era detail and decadent adventure…An exhilarating read with a fearless heroine.

Woman’s World

Cleeton will break hearts with this exquisitely wrought tale. . . [A] beautiful and utterly transporting novel.

Publisher’s Weekly

[A] thrilling story about love, loss, and what we will do to go home again. Utterly un-put-down-able.


An edifying, entertaining read filled with adventure, suspense, history and romance, When We Left Cuba is a thought-provoking look at the ways in which politics can be intensely personal.


With rich historical detail, incisive dialogue and a firebrand heroine, Cleeton paints a vivid portrait of a woman caught in the currents of a turbulent time yet determined to make her own way.

Shelf Awareness

When We Left Cuba is chock full of espionage, murder, romance, politics, family drama, and themes of national identity...If you loved Next Year in Havana, read this straightaway!

Historical Novels Review

Chanel Cleeton follows the spectacular success of NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA with the sure-to-soar WHEN WE LEFT CUBA, continuing the saga of the exiled Perez sisters. Bold, unconventional Beatriz makes a heroine for the ages, burning to avenge her losses, aid her homeland, and carve out a more independent role for herself than the conventional marriage and motherhood expected by her family. A charismatic American senator offers Beatriz the chance of love in a new home, but a shadowy CIA spy holds out the possibility of molding Cuba's future, and Beatriz's choice will resound through the ages. A thrilling, thought-provoking read!

Kate QuinnNew York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

Powerful, emotional and oh so real. One woman's fight to reclaim her own country, against all odds and no matter what the cost is intertwined with the real history of our lifetime and creates an unforgettable story.

Rhys Bowen, New York Times and #1 Kindle bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and the Royal Spyness mysteries

Atmospheric and evocative, When We Left Cuba captivates with its compelling portrayals of the glamorous Cuban exile community and powerful forbidden love set against the dangerous intrigue of the Cold War. Unforgettable and unputdownable!

Laura Kamoie, New York Times bestselling author of My Dear Hamilton

Chanel Cleeton has written a gorgeously atmospheric homage to a country and a past that vibrates with emotion on every page. Historic events, espionage, and a Kennedy-esque romance make this novel a rich read, but the addition of a formidable heroine truly makes it unputdownable. This is not just historical fiction, but also an unrequited love story for a country and a way of life, as well as a journey of self-discovery for a woman torn between love and the two countries she calls home.

Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of Dreams of Falling

Scintillating…. An intriguing dive into the turbulent Cuban-American history of the 1960s, and the unorthodox choices made by a strong historical woman.

Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room

Cleeton draws you into the glamour, intrigue, and uncertainty of the Cuban exile community just after Castro's coup through a heroine who could give Mata Hari a run for her money…. You'll be rooting for Beatriz to change the course of history—and find her own hard-won happily ever after.

Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of The English Wife

Oozing with atmosphere and intrigue, When We Left Cuba is an evocative, powerful and beautifully written historical novel which had me completely captivated from the first page to the last. Take a bow, Chanel Cleeton! 

Hazel GaynorNew York Times bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter

Chanel Cleeton outdoes herself in this stunning follow-up to NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA. With a richly imagined setting and a heroine worth rooting for from the start, WHEN WE LEFT CUBA is thrilling and romantic, and timely to boot. 

Michelle Gable, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Met Jack

A compelling unputdownable story of love—for a man, for a country, for a past ripped away, and a future’s tenuous promise. When We Left Cuba swept me away.

Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Lighthouse Beach

Cleeton once again delivers a masterful tale of political intrigue tinged with personal heartbreak. Her ferocity and fearlessness can be found on every page, and Beatriz’s story – one of vengeance, betrayal, and bravery – astonishes and thrills.

Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece

With a sure hand for historical detail, an impeccable eye for setting, and a heroine who grasps hold of your heart and never lets go, Chanel Cleeton has created another dazzlingly atmospheric and absorbing story of Cuba and its exiles. It’s impossible to look away from Beatriz Perez and the torturous choices she must make—and it’s just as impossible to put this book down until you’ve turned the final page and look up, your heart racing, your mind full of the mesmerizing story into which you’ve been plunged. This is a beautiful and profoundly affecting novel from a writer whose work belongs on the shelves of every lover of historical fiction.

Jennifer Robson, USA Today bestselling author of The Gown

WHEN WE LEFT CUBA – Chanel Cleeton’s dazzling return to the Perez family – is Beatriz’s glamorous and heartbreaking story, set against the vividly drawn backdrop of the Cold War. By turns a captivating historical novel, a sweeping love story, and a daring tale of espionage -- I absolutely adored this gem of a novel.

Jillian Cantor, author of THE LOST LETTER and IN ANOTHER TIME

This is the absolute perfect follow up to Next Year in Havana. A socialite turned spy, out to avenge the death of her bother who was murdered at the hands of Fidel Castro sets the stage for this extraordinary novel. Cleeton takes us on a fast-paced journey through the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, up to Kennedy’s assassination and beyond. Beatriz Perez will steal your heart just as she steals a handsome senator’s. Rich in historic detail, When We Left Cuba has it all—the excitement of a page-turning thriller, the sizzle of a steamy romance and the elegant prose of a master storyteller.  Chanel Cleeton has hit this one out of the park!

Renee Rosen, author of Park Avenue Summer

In a tale as tempestuous as Cuba itself, When We Left Cuba is the revolutionary story of one woman's bold courage and her many sacrifices for her beloved country. An absolutely spectacular read! 

Stephanie Marie Thornton, author of American Princess

Beatriz Perez’s brand of vintage-Havana glamour dazzles with equal parts intrigue, rebellion, and romance to make for an unforgettable story. When We Left Cuba captures all of the suspense and drama of a fascinating period of Cuban-American history.

Elise Hooper, author of The Other Alcott

When We Left Cuba is a breathtaking book, and it captures what I love best about historical fiction--a story that grips my romantic heart, enlightens me about a time of which I know little, and leaves me thinking about it long after I'm done. If you loved Next Year in Havana, you’ll love When We Left Cuba.

Camille Di Maio, author of The Way of Beauty

Chanel Cleeton gives readers a compelling heroine in Beatriz Perez, a young woman possessed by loyalty to family, pursuit of justice, and the reclamation of the country she, and other ex-pat Cubans, lost to Fidel Castro. To pursue her ends, Beatriz must defy expectations and be more than an eligible socialite who transitions into someone’s glamorous wife. Fortunately for Beatriz, and for the reader, she has what it takes to be SO much more. . . even in the face of parental disapproval and palpable, mortal danger. Cleeton gives us a heroine to love—conveying in well-crafted prose, the journey of a remarkable woman as she grows in self-assurance and power. And Cleeton is equally adept at delivering the gripping history surrounding the Bay of Pigs and other Kennedy-era events in the cold-war-on-the-doorstep struggles of the immediate post Cuban Revolution period. We may know how these events end, but When We Left Cuba brings them alive in a way that has us holding our breaths nonetheless. When We Left Cuba simply crackles with political and personal tensions—Brava Chanel Cleeton!

Sophie Perinot, author of Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois

Electric and fierce.  Beatriz Perez’s romance with a handsome, important senator will sweep you away, but it’s her profound loyalty to Cuba and her formidable determination to be her own woman despite life-and-death odds that will really hold you in thrall. Prepare to be up late with this novel!

Kerri Maher, author of The Kennedy Debutante

A beautifully-written story set in a fascinating time, WHEN WE LEFT CUBA grabs you from the first page and keeps you turning pages until the end. A passionate, patriotic heroine pulled into espionage, a tension-filled era in Cuban-American relations, and a romance that could ruin the political ambitions of a man groomed for power- this book has it all.

Janie Chang, author of Dragon Springs Road

When We Left Cuba is a gorgeously rendered story that powerfully demonstrates the intersection between the personal and the political. Beatriz Perez is just the sort of heroine I love most: flawed, resilient, and courageous. Part spy novel, part romance, and part political thriller, readers will no doubt find this book as hard to put down as I did.

Alyssa Palombo, author of The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel

Chanel Cleeton takes us for a wild ride in this gripping, gorgeous book. There are enough twists and turns to keep you hanging until the very last page, and the love story is one for the ages. An absolute gem of a book.

Sara Ackerman, author of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

A slow burn in all the right ways, Beatriz's story is a cohesion of romance, revenge, and loyalty that kept me turning the pages until I learned her ultimate fate. Immersive and stirring!

Jenni L. Walsh, author of Side by Side

With vivid storytelling and a heroine whose bravery belies her birthright, Chanel Cleeton once again captures the beauty and tumult of Cuba as seen through the eyes of the people forced to leave it behind. An immersive and gorgeously crafted tale of forbidden love, family, loyalty and intrigue.

Victoria Schade, author of Life on the Leash


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