Book Reviews: The Last Train to Key West, Love Chai and Other 4 Letter words & Seven Days in June

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Goodreads blurb: In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel. Everyone journeys to Key West searching for something. For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape. The Cuban Revolution of 1933 left Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position. After an arranged wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to the stranger she’s married, her new husband’s illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life. Elizabeth Preston’s trip from New York to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles as a result of the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own. Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys

My take: 4 out of 5. After loving Next Year in Havana and being very disappointed in When We Left Cuba, this book is back to form. I really enjoyed it. No need to read the previous two to get into it as it is only tangentially related. Really loved how the three women were so different but were intertwined in such interesting ways, and the fact that the characters were nuanced and interesting. I think im going to have to keep reading her books.

Love, Chai and Other Four Letter Words by Annika Sharma

Goodreads blurb: Kiran needs to fall in line. Instead, she falls in love. Kiran was the good daughter. When her sister disobeyed her family’s plan and brought them shame, she was there to pick up the pieces. She vowed she wouldn’t make the same mistakes. She’d be twice the daughter her parents needed, to make up for the one they lost. Nash never had a family. The parents who were supposed to raise him were completely absent. Now as a psychologist, he sees the same pattern happening to the kids he works with. So he turns away from love and family. After all, abandonment is in his genes, isn’t it? If she follows the rules, Kiran will marry an Indian man. If he follows his fears, Nash will wind up alone. But what if they follow their hearts?

My take: 3 out of 5. The concept of a group of friends that meets for chai to discuss life and that will eventually pop up four different books sounds great in theory. In practice? not so much. It was an ok book, but it just didn’t provide much more. There were a lot of clichés in terms of family dynamics, very annoying relationship drama and a level of predictability that went a bit over my very large tolerance for it. I’ve read some very cool Indian Romances this year and this one didn’t really rise to the top of my list, although it was enjoyable and a very quick read and by the end my heartstrings had been pulled a little. ( i read this ARC of the audiobook thanks to the publisher)

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Goodreads blurb: Seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget and seven days to get it all back again… From the author of The Perfect Find, this is a witty, romantic, and sexy-as-hell new novel of two writers and their second chance at love. Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York. When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York’s Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can’t deny their chemistry-or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since. Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva’s not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered. . .With its keen observations of Black life and the condition of modern motherhood, as well as the consequences of motherless-ness, Seven Days in June is by turns humorous, warm and deeply sensual.

My take: 4.75 out of 5. I loved this book! Expectations were blown, this is not just a great romance, it had everything I want in a book period. Where do I start? Very well written, deep and flawed characters that you end up falling for. I loved the way they handled the two timelines, seven days in June, just quite a many years apart, such strong writing in it. I loved the fact that they were writers, and books and storytelling was all over the place not only in the prose but in way they inspired their actual book stories. I liked that it had the romance and some steam but it wasn’t all about that, it had so much drama behind it, as well as social commentary. I mean read it. that’s all i have to say.

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