My name is Marissa. I live in the Netherlands with my partner, two kids and a hooligan cat. My son is almost 9 years old and my daughter is 5. Dutch is my native tongue; English is a second language for me. I am an avid romance reader. When I am not busy with work, household stuff, friends or my family, I read romance novels and review them for my own blog and now for Romance Book Craze. I am a paralegal, I draw up legal papers for my boss who is ingenious but forgetful and I try to keep him out of trouble. I am very organized at work but chaotic at home and I certainly have my Bridget Jones moments. I love to travel and enjoy a good glass of wine, I hate coffee and I am addicted to chocolate and gorgeous romance covers. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
Here is our first review by her...
Cera's Place by Elizabeth McKenna
Blurb: Life hasn’t been exactly kind to San Francisco saloon owner Cera Cassidy, but she has built a successful business and a family of friends. She carries the reputation of a tough woman with a big heart, along with a derringer in her skirt pocket. One summer night, she discovers that the neighborhood thug is kidnapping Chinese girls to sell to the local brothels. Outraged, Cera vows to bring him to justice, but he’s not going to let anyone interfere with his livelihood.
Jake Tanner, a scarred ex-soldier haunted by his Civil War experiences, is on a mission to fulfill a friend’s dying wish. The trail has brought him to Cera’s door. Captivated by her Irish beauty, he is more than willing to join in her fight – if only she would let him.
Cera’s Place is up and running from the getgo and right away it was obvious that this was not the typical historical romance with a knight in shiny armor and a damsel in distress in need of rescue. For a historical romance it has unusual strong female characters and a dominant suspense part. I was eager to discover where this story would lead me, instantly I liked Cera and I never was good at resisting scarred, handsome characters like Jake, yet because of the leading suspense part I wondered how much space was left for the development of the romance between Cera and Jake as the story is only 186 pages long.
As a successful saloon owner Cera stands her ground in a world dominated by men, she is fierce, bold, caring, loyal to her friends and has a strong sense of justice. She lives her life on her own terms, when she finds out that the town’s villain is kidnapping Chinese girls to sell to local brothels she vows to bring him to justice, but her sense of justice puts her and her friends in serious danger. In the midst of all these troubles Jake Tanner walks into her saloon and immediately she is drawn to him like a moth to a flame.
Jake stole my heart the moment I met him. Though the war is over Jake is still a soldier through and through and he is on a mission to fulfill a promise he made to a friend and fellow soldier who died on the battlefield. His mission brings him to Cera’s Place and she stirs up feelings he thought were long dead. He is compassionate, loyal, protective and persistent in everything he does. I loved the combination of skills, persistence, vulnerability and emotions in Jake. He is very much the tormented hero, still dealing with the pain of his past, trying to pick up his life again. It is hard not to like him!
Both Cera and Jake are strong-willed, fiercely independent, and no strangers to loss and grief. Hurt by the man she once loved Cera guards her heart and keeps all men at bay. She tries to do the same with Jake but he is too persistent and isn’t going anywhere. He slowly gains her trust and bit by bit she falls in love with him but she is scared to give her heart to another man. Jake has lost his wife and child, he is scarred by the war physically and mentally and that frightens him but Cera captivates him, he wants her but is afraid he is not good enough for her. Jake and Cera are appealing characters you can easily relate to and their romantic struggle and scalding attraction tugged at my heartstrings, I so wanted to see them both happy.
Elizabeth McKenna’s writing immersed me deeper and deeper into the story and she delivers a beautiful, intriguing tale. Cera’s employees are all strong women, all very different but scarred by their pasts yet they are all determined to create a better life for themselves. As secondary characters they entertain, add humor and give this story more layers and a certain depth without stealing the spotlight from Jake and Cera. Still Jake stands his ground between all these women as a true hero! The only problem I have with Cera’s Place is that the suspense part dominated the story and although it is well developed and has a good pace I felt the romance part was snowed under. For me the romance moved too fast at times, I felt that I missed certain scenes/parts of Jake and Cera’s romance. As a romance reader I would have loved to see that part more deepened and more equal to the suspense plotline.
But I loved Jake and Cera’s emotional journey for justice and love, they touched my heart and I was rooting for them. Elizabeth McKenna delivered a powerful and captivating read with Cera’s Place. Supported by a striking and witty cast of characters Cera’s Place is entertaining, it is a thrilling read that kept me riveted to my chair from start till finish!
You can find out more about Elizabeth's books here
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