Month: July 2020

Sophia Rose Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Posted July 25, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel CleetonThe Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
Series: Standalone
Published by Berkley on June 16, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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.


This latest release leaves the focus of Cuban American history for the most part and settles on a slice of Floridian history of the 1930’s. Three separate women’s lives intertwine over one fateful holiday weekend in the Florida Keys. It was an emotional and engaging story that I easily settled into and read swiftly.

The Last Train to Key West is a standalone. I think one of the heroines, Mirta Perez, might be aunt to the women of the previous books, but I’m not sure. Either way, it was a great story- or should I say stories – since there are three women with their own individual stories that cross paths during the Labor Day weekend.

The first woman introduced is Helen a native of Key West and stuck in a dreary abusive marriage to a local fisherman. She is very pregnant, but works long days at a local diner. A mysterious man from one of the camps comes to her rescue and shows her kindness. He is the spark that she needs to make her bid for freedom during the building storm.

Next, we meet Mirta who agrees to an arranged marriage to help her family back in Cuba. Her husband is a rich, powerful man who has lived a shady past. She is young and wonders how it will be with her husband with only her mother’s advice about duty, pleasing her husband so he will take care of her and remain faithful. Is that how she wants her own marriage to be?

Finally, there is feisty Elizabeth who hides her fears behind a mask. She was once a society girl whose family lost it all in the Crash and then the family crumbled. She is escaping a great deal and hopes to find the one man who might be able to save her. His last postmarked letter was from Key West and she knows he’s in one of the camps. A stranger who doesn’t let her get away with her flirting games to toy with him ends up offering her help in the search even as a hurricane barrels down on them.

All three were so very different and I found myself cheering for all of them especially when the secrets started coming out. This isn’t a mystery, but there are some great twists all the same. And, between the storm and a few suspense moments, it gets intense.

As to the historical background, it was fascinating. I had no idea about the plight of the soldiers who returned from WWI, about their march on Washington to get their promised bonus money or that they were shipped to camps that seemed an awful lot like labor camps down in the Keys. My heart just broke for the suffering even though it is past history. The hurricane was another part of the history that brought the past to life as did the pre-commercial Key West and the Keys.

There is romance though it looks different for each woman. They were strong in their own ways and discovered men who would treat them well after pasts that were full of pain.

So, another stellar book balancing emotion, suspense, history, complex characters, and a riveting plot from an author that is already hit the autobuy mark with me. Those who love colorful historical fiction with a romantic flavor and an authentic backdrop should give this a try.

I rec’d this book from Net Galley via Berkley to read in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.




Sophia Rose Review: I Never Knew Myself by Melanie Rachel

Posted July 12, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: I Never Knew Myself by Melanie RachelI Never Knew Myself: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Melanie Rachel
Series: standalone
Published by Self-published on March 22, 2020
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 430
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Elizabeth Bennet is living a lie.
She’s known since she was fifteen that she isn't truly a Bennet, but who is she? Are the people and places that appear in her dreams just a sign of her active imagination, or are they memories of her true family? Could the stories she'd told Jane when they were children not be stories at all?
Fitzwilliam Darcy is reliving a nightmare.
He hasn’t dreamed of “Ellie” Windham in years, but after meeting Elizabeth Bennet, he is reminded of the day little Ellie was kidnapped. And now he is left to wonder whether he is drawn to more than her fine eyes.
When Darcy realizes that Elizabeth and Ellie might be one and the same, he is anxious to return her to the Windhams, and Elizabeth is no less eager to meet her family. But when the idyllic reunion she longed for goes awry, both Darcy and Elizabeth wonder whether it’s really possible to put a broken family back together again.
Can Darcy help Elizabeth find her place in her first family so she can one day join him in his?

How many lives are effected and how they are affected by the kidnapping of one child are the questions at the center of this unique Pride and Prejudice variation story. Restoration is the beautiful element that is longed for throughout this tale and it was only better still when an infamous encounter begins the romantic catalyst that brings a lost child home.

I have long wanted to try this author’s books and it was not long into this one that I knew I had been missing out. The characters are wonderfully drawn with depth that included flaws and winning ways, solid conflict that offered internal as well as external challenges. There was angst without it getting out of balance.

It has a large cast of characters and there are several narration threads all swirling around the main character, Elizabeth Bennet. Even the tender romance with the supportive, loyal and oh so loving William Darcy takes backseat to Elizabeth’s coming to terms with all that has happened and is happening to her. If I had a complaint, it would be maybe that many of the side threads could be a distraction and slow the pacing of the main story to little purpose particularly in the first part of the latter half when things were reshuffling for the end. I admit to being impatient for the final push when it came to a few storylines. However, if you pressed me to what of those side threads to give up, I’m not sure I could. I liked all the characters right where they were even the absurdly spoiled, Mercy, and the cruel, selfish Mrs. Bennet.

The book had several moving pieces that all had to play out before the end. It was put into parts and I appreciated that because I saw Elizabeth’s story in that way as well. I thought each segment of Elizabeth’s life rang true and the author didn’t stint on the development of each particularly how loss of a child can alter things for a whole family and how a child who was wrenched from family at a young age struggles to fit in and feel wanted.

Beyond the plot and characters was the historical setting. This was a Pride and Prejudice variation. It varies from the beginning of the story and only connects where names, places, and the Regency setting meet. No prior familiarity with the original Austen story required. It has the classic gothic overtones when it comes to the kidnapping, the sinister Collins who will do what it takes to get the Bennet estate, and the way Elizabeth is treated by her ‘aunt’ Bennet, but the intense part of the story is less action and more relationship and character-driven.

The author also did her homework when it came to Regency era law to form a story. In this case, it was the shocking rule of criminal law in that day that allowed the stealing of the child’s clothes to be the bigger criminal offense and not the stealing of the child. Melanie Rachel weaves a heartfelt, emotionally honest story around this element of law. Other legal elements: the entail of an estate to only go to male heirs, the law of primogeniture that allowed only the oldest to inherit the family estate, and marriage settlements that bound a woman’s fortune and even herself over as property of her husband- all drive the plot.

All in all, it was a story that touched me emotionally, but also had thoughtful moments that made me lose myself in a good way. Those who appreciate mild gothic tones, sweet slowburn romance, complex characters, and well-drawn historical settings should pick this one up.

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.