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28 May 2016

Blog Tour: 'Last Dance in Havana' by Rosanna Ley!

Cuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he's the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro's army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her?

England, 2012. Grace has a troubled relationship with her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother's untimely death. And this year more than ever she could do with a shoulderto cry on - Grace's career is in flux, she isn't sure she wants the baby her husband is so desperate to have and, worst of all, she's begun to develop feelings for their best friend Theo. Theo is a Cuban born magician but even he can't make Grace's problems disappear. Is the passion Grace feels for Theo enough to risk her family's happiness?

I'm both excited and honoured to be a part of the blog tour for Rosanna Ley's newest book 'Last Dance in Havana', which was released on May 19th by Quercus, today! I was first introduced to Rosanna's writing when I got the chance to read and review her novel 'The Saffron Trail' last year (click here to read my review), which I really enjoyed. I had been looking forward to checking out another one of Rosanna's works, so when I got the chance to be part of her blog tour I immediately said yes. Be sure to also check out the exclusive guest post from Rosanna herself in which she tells us a bit more about the research she did to write 'Last Dance in Havana', so don't forget to scroll down!

'Last Dance in Havana' is mainly set in modern-day England and 1950s Cuba; two completely different places connected by the main characters in the book. Elisa fell in love with Duardo as soon as she saw him for the first time, but their love is a complicated one, especially when Duardo decides he wants to be a part of the Cuban revolution. Now, many years later, Elisa can't help but still long for Duardo and Cuba, even though she has built up a new life for herself in England. Elisa's daughter-in-law Grace is facing problems of her own; her husband wants to have children, which Grace isn't too sure about, especially not now she notices she is developing feelings for her good friend Theo. Both Elisa and Grace need to figure out what it is they want from life, and, most importantly, whether they can find that in England...

Rosanna Ley has the ability to really transport her readers to another time and place with her words, and that's definitely what she also managed to do with her latest release 'Last Dance in Havana.' I loved joining main characters Elisa and Grace, who each had their own fascinating storyline, which were also connected to one another in a clever way. I particularly warmed to Elisa; I really liked her from the start and was rooting for her to find the happiness she had been longing for for quite some time already. While I had a bit more difficulty warming to Grace, her storyline did interest me and every time I had a free moment I picked up the novel, curious to see what was going to happen next.

This is only my second novel by author Rosanna Ley but I've really come to admire her vibrant and realistic descriptions of faraway locations, such as Cuba in this particular book. It's clear she's an author that does her research and as I was reading the book I could easily imagine myself walking down the streets in Havana, putting myself into Elisa's shoes. While I do feel the book could perhaps have been a bit shorter (it's almost 500 pages) in order to keep a steady pace at all times, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait for Rosanna to treat us to another gorgeous read. 'Last Dance in Havana' is a vibrant, well-written, convincing tale about love, family and finding happiness; a great piece of women's fiction and definitely a read to pick up if you're looking for a quick escape or a bit of sunshine!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Post by Rosanna Ley!

I'm both honoured and excited to welcome Rosanna Ley to the blog today; in the post below she tells us all a bit more about the research she did before writing 'Last Dance in Havana'.

Cuba was way outside my personal experience - writing this novel would be a challenge. 

To help me on my way I began with an overview of the country – culture, history, geography - from books such as Enduring Cuba by Zoe Bran; documentaries and films like Soy Cuba directed by Mikhail Kalatozov.  And then there’s the Internet, of course... 

I had some themes in mind. Massage and magic (I don’t know any magicians but I had some lovely massages) power and control and dancing. In Biography of a Runaway Slave by Miguel Barnett I discovered the amazing Esteban Montejo. This young African slave on a Cuban sugar plantation, was also a runaway, fought in the War of Independence and experienced the Cuban Revolution before he died at the age of 113, in 1973 - the hundredth anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Cuba. Wow. What a life...

No Way Home by Carlos Acosta helped me imagine how it would be to leave Cuba, and since I was planning to write about the rumba, I also enjoyed watching him dance! And Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara helped me explore how it might have felt to fight in the Revolution.

And then it was time to go there... I visited Havana, Trinidad, Vinales and Cayo Levisa. I walked the streets, looking for where my characters might live, work, play. I imagined places as they might have been in the 1940s, during the Revolution, when slaves worked on sugar plantations in Valle de los Ingenios. And I talked to as many Cuban people as possible to get their take on the politics, the living conditions, the culture. It was a challenge, yes. But it was so much fun, trying to get the flavour...

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