Happy Monday all! Work deadlines kept me busy and away from the blog for much of last week, but as of today, our first big deadline of the year has passed.  Woo hoo! Anyway, I hope to get back to more regular posting and blog hopping this week.  Today I’m back to share my thoughts on a couple of excellent historical fiction novels that are releasing in April from two of my favorite authors.



Author: Chanel Cleeton

Publication Date: April 11, 2023

Publisher:  Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


Set in 1934, Chanel Cleeton’s latest historical fiction novel, The Cuban Heiress, is a riveting tale that takes place aboard a luxury cruise ship, the SS Morro Castle, during a round trip from New York to Havana, Cuba.

The story is loosely based on the real-life SS Morro Castle disaster where the luxury cruise ship caught fire and ran aground on a beach in Asbury Park, New Jersey.  But that historical event is more of a side element in Cleeton’s novel.  Her story instead focuses on several seemingly unrelated passengers aboard this ship whose lives end up intertwined in ways that will truly surprise readers.  First, there’s Catherine, who, for some reason, is pretending to be an heiress, and who is on the ship with her fiancé and his young daughter.  Then there’s the mysterious Elena, a young woman who has been presumed dead but is clearly not as she can frequently be found lurking in the shadows aboard the ship.  As if those characters aren’t intriguing enough on their own, there’s also a charming jewel thief named Henry aboard, as well as Julio, who is smuggling guns into and refugees out of Cuba.

I was enthralled from start to finish as Cleeton slowly weaves together the threads that intertwined the lives of these fascinatingly deceptive characters.  The story is steeped in danger, suspense, romance, betrayals, and revenge, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat.  In many ways, it reads more like a thriller than a historical fiction novel. But, that said, while it doesn’t contain quite as much history as I’ve grown used to from Cleeton’s novels, The Cuban Heiress is still an immensely satisfying read that I would recommend to fans of both historical fiction and thrillers.  4 STARS.


Reviews: THE CUBAN HEIRESS and THE GOLDEN DOVESThe Golden Doves Goodreads

Author: Martha Hall Kelly

Publication Date: April 18, 2023

Publisher: Ballantine Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


With her latest novel, The Golden Doves, Martha Hall Kelly takes her readers back to WWII and follows two former female spies who are willing to risk everything to bring a fugitive Nazi scientist to justice.

American Josie Anderson and a Parisian named Arlette LaRue are two young women working in the French resistance during the war.  They are so good at stealing Nazi secrets that they earn the title “Golden Doves” and are hailed by Allied Forces while being hunted by the Gestapo. Eventually their luck runs out and they are arrested and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp.  Josie and Arlette witness unbelievably horrific events on a regular basis at the camp and they also both experience devastating personal losses that will haunt them long after they are released from the camp – Josie’s mother is cruelly experimented on by a Nazi scientist and dies there, while Arlette’s infant son is stolen from her.  A decade later, the opportunity presents itself for Josie to exact revenge on the scientist who tortured her mother, and Arlette suddenly has a fresh lead on where her son might have been taken.

I was completely engrossed in Josie’s and Arlette’s mission to finally hold this scientist accountable and to hopefully find Arlette’s son.  Their adventure read like a thriller, filled with endless twists and turns and danger around every corner and I zoomed through the book, rooting for them to get justice for Josie’s mother and all the other women who were victimized at Ravensbruck.

As always though, what continually draws me to WWII historical fiction is my desire to learn everything that I wasn’t taught in history class. In this case, Martha Hall Kelly, through her extensive research, taught me how so many Nazi fugitives, particularly scientists, were allowed to escape justice and how my own country played an active role in their escape because they were so desperate to keep the knowledge and expertise the Nazi scientists possessed from getting into the hands of the Russians.  I was shocked and truly appalled to learn this and don’t even get me started on what I learned about the Catholic Church’s involvement.

Inspired by true events, The Golden Doves is both a gripping and moving survivor’s tale and an eye opening lesson in WWII and post WWII history.  4.5 STARS

8 replies
  1. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    I am also a fan of the way Cleeton weaves all the characters’ tales together. I have not read this one, but Key West stands out for this aspect.

  2. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Think I may add The Cuban Heiress to my read list. Just coming off a cruise and this definitely peaked my interest LOL

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