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In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys.
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.
After the Cuban Revolution of 1933 leaves Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position, she agrees to an arranged marriage with a notorious American. Following her wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to her new husband, his illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.
Elizabeth Preston's trip to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles after 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.
Elizabeth Preston, one of three spunky heroines in Cleeton's loosely braided historical (after When We Left Cuba), finds herself caught in a killer hurricane in the Florida Keys over Labor Day weekend in 1935, having fled New York City to avoid marrying gangster Frank Morgan and instead search for a WWI vet who wrote her a letter. Elizabeth's train stops in Key West, where she meets the heavily pregnant Helen Berner, a waitress at Ruby's restaurant. Married for nine years to Tom, an abusive alcoholic fisherman, Helen fantasizes about a new life. Also at Ruby's is newlywed Mirta Perez Cordero, who is on the way to joining her husband, Anthony, at their honeymoon beach house. After Tom threatens Helen, she flees up the Keys to Islamorada, determined to protect her unborn child. Elizabeth, worried she might be tailed by one of Frank's lackeys, allows a man she met on the train to accompany her. During a terrifying ordeal at the height of the hurricane, after Mirta discovers what business her husband is in, she is forced to confront the limits of her loyalty. The author neatly ties up the trio of plotlines, revealing the slender and very convenient threads connecting the women. Cleeton finds the right balance of historical detail and suspense, making this a riveting curl-up-on-the-couch affair.
LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST by Chanel Cleeton follows the lives of three women, in a fictional account of the 1935 Hurricane that swept through Key West, Florida on Labor Day weekend.
Told from three first person perspectives (Helen Berber, Marta Perez, Elizabeth Preston) LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST focuses on the journey of three women whose lives are about to cross paths and intersect with the approach of a deadly hurricane in the Florida Keys.
Helen Berner is a young, pregnant woman who is desperate to escape her abusive husband when a stranger, a military veteran offers Helen a way to escape, an escape that will bring Helen in the direct line of the impending storm where our couple will find themselves washed away along with so many of the Florida residents.
Marta Perez is a newlywed -married to a New York crime lord, whose enemies have followed the couple to the Florida Keys but the storm is about to bring more danger than anyone could have expected in the form of a stranger demanding everything including the lives of our story line couple.
New Yorker, Elizabeth Preston is desperate to find her brother, who has been missing for several months but Elizabeth is also on the run from a marriage of convenience to a dangerous man, a man who bought our heroine as payment for a loan. An undercover FBI agent offers to help Elizabeth find her brother John but said agent is currently on assignment, an assignment that involves our story line heroine.
LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST is an intriguing, brilliant and wonderfully fictional story line set against the real-life disaster of the 1935 hurricane that destroyed much of the Florida Keys. With the world struggling to survive in the aftermath of the stock market crash, and ensuing Great Depression, Key West Florida is about to suffer like never before. Chanel Cleeton delves into the lives of three women, all facing an uncertain future but a future that will intersect and converge in more way than one.