To any authors/publishers/ tour companies that are looking for the reviews that I signed up for please know this is very hard to do. I will be stopping reviews temporarily. My husband passed away February 1st and my new normal is a bit scary right now and I am unable to concentrate on a book to do justice to the book and authors. I will still do spotlight posts if you wish it is just the reviews at this time. I apologize for this, but it isn't fair to you if I signed up to do a review and haven't been able to because I can't concentrate on any books. Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time. I appreciate all of you. Kathleen Kelly April 2nd 2024

10 February 2024

Last Seen in Havana by Teresa Dovalpage. Blog Tour!

Last Seen in Havana

A Cuban American woman searches for her long-lost mother and fights to restore a beautiful but crumbling Art Deco home in the heart of Havana in this moving, immersive new mystery, perfect for fans of Of Women and Salt.In 2019, newly widowed baker Mercedes Spivey flies from Miami to her native Cuba to care for her ailing paternal grandmother. 

Mercedes’s life has been shaped by loss, beginning with the mysterious unsolved disappearance of her mother when Mercedes was a little girl. Returning to Cuba revives Mercedes’s hopes of finding her mother as she attempts to piece together the few scraps of information she has. Could her mother still be alive?33 years earlier, an American college student with endless political optimism falls deliriously in love with a handsome Cuban soldier while on a spontaneous visit to the island. 

She decides to stay permanently, but soon discovers that nothing is as it seems in Havana. The two women’s stories proceed in parallel as Mercedes gets closer to discovering the truth about her mother, uncovering shocking family secrets in the process . . .

Amazon UK

Writer, translator and college professor, Teresa Dovalpage is a Cuban transplant firmly rooted in New Mexico. She is the author of twelve novels, among them the Havana Mystery series, three short story collections and four theater plays. She lives with her husband, one dog and too many barn cats.

Blog in English

Blog in Spanish

Read an Excerpt

Short intro: Mercedes has been raised by her grandmother Mamina after her mother disappeared when Mercedes was three years old. After her husband’s untimely death, Mercedes, now thirty years old and living in Miami, returns to Cuba to take care of her grandma and find out as much as she can about her mother.

Two days later, at three o’clock, I boarded a Miami-Havana flight. Candela went with me. Born to Cuban parents in Hialeah, my friend had never been to the island. Her family, former land barons, had fled in 1960 after their bank accounts were seized and their properties confiscated. Candela had kept mum about the trip so as not to offend them.

When the plane took off, Candela dug a Tarot deck out of her backpack and spread the cards across the tray table.

“Are you going to read the cards now?” I asked, mortified.

Her eyes sparkled as bright as the five silver chains with charms she wore around her neck.

¡Claro! I need to know what expects me in Havana. Do you want a reading too? This is the Andrew McGregor deck. It’s inspired by the orishas and very good. I got it at a botánica on Calle Ocho.”

“Nah. I don’t believe in that stuff.”

It wasn’t exactly the truth. Some of my friend’s predictions had turned out to be accurate, but in the most twisted way conceivable.

“To unlock the past, present and future,” she whispered. “So mote it be.”

“Mote un carajo.

It was embarrassing. Or maybe not. Like, who cared? A blond guy sitting across the aisle was dressed in white from head to toe. The Miami Herald had recently run an article about Americans who traveled to Cuba to “make santo” or being initiated in Santería, often by bogus priests who charged them several thousand dollars.

The plane flew over the Florida Keys. We’d arrive in less than an hour. I longed to hug Mamina, reassuring her, and myself, that she was going to be fine. Then we would have a conversation. A long overdue one.

“Fate’s waiting for me in Havana!” Candela stated grandly, pointing to the Tarot spread. “See, I got Oshún, the orisha of love. She’ll send a handsome Cuban guy my way.”

I thought of my poor husband. Maybe I should have stayed with “a handsome Cuban guy.” I would still be in Cuba, but Nolan would be alive . . .

Candela retrieved the cards, shuffled again and asked, “Are you sure your grandma doesn’t mind me staying in the house?”

“Ah, not at all.”

She had minded it at first, but I convinced her that my friend would be a quiet and amenable guest. It wasn’t like she had anything against Candela personally. Mamina didn’t like to have people over, much less for an extended time.

“I need to ask her some difficult questions before she forgets everything,” I whispered.

“About what?”

“My—my mom.”

“What is it?” Candela leaned toward me. “Why are you mumbling, girl?”

It wasn’t the first time I had unintentionally lowered my voice when the topic came up.

“My mother,” I said louder.

Candela’s eyes lit up. She squeezed my arm.

“At last, Merceditas! I don’t understand why you’ve waited this long.”

“We had an unspoken agreement not to mention her.”

I had learned early on to keep my mouth shut. Once, when I was in kindergarten, an older girl informed me with a gleeful smile that my mom was a Yankee. Some kids laughed; others looked shocked. That evening I had asked Mamina if that was true, though I didn’t have the faintest idea of what “Yankee” meant. My grandma scowled.

“Who the heck told you that?”

“A third-grade girl,” I said, holding Saralí, the ragdoll I kept until my teens, when it became more rag than doll.

“She’s a gossiper and a crap-stirrer.”

“But what’s a Yankee?” I insisted. “And where’s my mom?”

In the two and a half years we had been living together, Mamina had always answered all my questions patiently. Not then.

“I don’t have time to talk!” she snapped. “Go to your room and don’t bother me with nonsense!”

She had never lacked time before. I hugged Saralí and scurried away to cry. Perhaps my mother was a Yankee, whatever that meant. There was nobody else to ask in the family, seeing that the family, at least in Havana, was only the two of us.

Later on, I struggled to remember what had happened after she left. If one day I woke up and she wasn’t around, I must have asked some questions. But I couldn’t recall what I was told, if anything at all. The school incident was the first memory I had of any inquiries, and its aftermath discouraged me from bringing up the issue again.

“That’s ridiculous,” Candela said. “Your mom may still be alive. You have the right to find out.”

Giveaway to Win 1 hardcover copy of Last Seen in Havana (Open to USA Only)

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*Terms and Conditions –USA entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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