Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Book Review: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Pages: 367
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author:  When We Left Cuba,
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."


The year is 1896 and Grace Harrington wants to make it as a journalist in New York City. Many of her contemporaries are interested in settling down to start a family, but not Grace. She is an unconventional woman who wants to be the next big female journalist. She finally lands her dream job with The New York Journal.  Meanwhile in Cuba, the story follows Evangelina Cisneros, a young girl imprisoned in a horrible women's jail in Cuba.  Evangelina is a real-life Cuban rebel and she longs for a free Cuba.  While she may be a rebel, she is actually imprisoned for simply refusing a Spanish soldier. Hearst, the owner of The New York Journal has Grace on assignment to investigate what is going on down in Cuba and Evangelina's plight.  Evangelina is considered the "most beautiful girl in Cuba," and many want America to get involved in aiding Cuba towards independence.  In comes Marina Perez, a young woman who secretly works for the revolutionaries in Havana.  She is the middle man for Evangelina and Grace; however, things don't get easier for these three courageous women, especially as events escalate towards war.  The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba is a compelling story based on the real-life Cuban rebel, Evangelina Cisneros.  History buffs will enjoy this compelling tale and be entertained by some of the unexpected plot twists.

Cleeton weaves the story of three seemingly unrelated women and ties their plot points together nicely.  Grace is everything you could want in an up and coming female reporter.  The newspaper world is really intense and I enjoyed her gumption, especially because her allegiances are a bit murky at times. This definitely kept the plot moving right along.  

Then there's Evangelina in The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba. I didn't know much about her prior to reading this novel, but I found her story to be compelling and heartbreaking at times.You have to admire her ordeal in the women's prison and her determination.  The people in charge gave her an easy way out if shed lie about what happened, but she was determined not to despite the horrific conditions of the prison.

Marina's story was also a good one in The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba and I love that Cleeton has continued the Perez family's story from her other novels about Cuba.  Marina was originally a socialite, but lost everything when she married someone beneath her who ended up being a revolutionary.  She doesn't know if he is dead or alive, so she has to do what she has to do to keep herself and her daughter fed and alive.

I can always count on Cleeton to teach me something about Cuba's history when I read her novels. While this wasn't my favorite of Cleeton's novels, I will say The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba is well researched and very informative regarding Cuba's complex and tumultuous history.  If you love historical reads about strong female characters, look no further! 

So, are you a fan of Cleeton's novels? Did you read this one yet? Let me know in the comments below.




  1. I love Chanel Cleeton and I can't wait to read this one!

    1. I look forward to your thoughts on it. I hope you enjoy the book! Thanks for visiting!

  2. Love the Perez family and I'm looking forward to learning more about Cuba!

    1. Me too! I think you'll like this one. I look forward to your thoughts on it. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


I really appreciate your comments. Thank you!

Design by: Designer Blogs