With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray, picture of book in front of the Empire State Building

Book Review: With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray

With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray, picture of book in front of the Empire State Building
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I’ve been telling you all about With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray all over social media but not here on my blog yet. So let us go deep or better yet, let’s get sparkly. As sparkly as the female lead’s multicolored crystal miniaudière.

The book starts with C.J. lamenting about a woman he recently shared a dance with at his friends’ wedding, a woman by the name of Cicely St. John. As enticing as that dance was, he can’t stand her and the feeling is mutual. She dared to say negative things on her fashion blog about his “man” bar that he passionately loves. C.J. thinks she’s stuck up and wants nothing to do with her. Cicely could care less about C.J. too. Or so they think? Luckily for us readers, they have mutual friends so life circumstances keep bringing them together. And despite their dislike towards each other, they can’t deny their attraction.

However, Cicely is laser-focused on her fashion magazine career and she has her eyes on a prize- a promotion to head the magazine in their Paris office.

Nothing will stop Cicely from her goals, not even her attraction to C.J. So maybe a friendship can work?

A friendship evolves that includes some HOT sexual tension, a man who actually respects boundaries, and all-around lovely times with the two of them. But can more develop? Also, what is really driving Cicely’s career aspirations? She’s a smart, strong woman, but there might be another force at play.

C.J. has his own work challenges to face as well. He must give up his beloved bar in order to take over the family business and he discovers he needs to save it from failure. C.J. would do anything for his close-knit family which, in addition to his father and brother, also includes his loving mom and determined younger sister.

C.J. and Cicely both have very full, busy lives to navigate so can a relationship develop within all those competing dynamics?

My thoughts about With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray can be found on…

Boobies & Noobies Podcast

Boobies & Noobies logo

I was on a podcast!! Your girl is the type who avoids phone calls, so when I was asked by the fabulous Kelly Reynolds to be a guest on her podcast, Boobies & Noobies, I was nervous. Before I agreed, I listened to a few of her episodes and laughed out loud throughout all of them. Her personality and take on romance books cracked me up! Because of her infectious personality and our shared love of romance books, I knew I had to push my nerves aside to be on her show. I’m so glad I did it. Thank you thank you Kelly for such a fun time. Side note:  after we stopped recording, we continued to talk and that’s when I learned that she’s also a Schitt’s Creek fan. We are definitely kindred spirits.

Our full thoughts about With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray are up on her podcast now.

Graphic for book With Just One Kiss
Thank you Kelly for sharing your awesome graphic with me.

You can listen to the full episode on any of these links:




I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this romance. Kelly and I talked about how sweet and lovely it is. C.J. is a guy who goes at Cicely’s pace, which especially resonated with me because I’ve sadly found the opposite of that during much of my dating experiences. Yes, there are a lot of great guys out there, but I’m not sure they’d have the kind of self-control C.J. displays. He is exceptional.

Not only did I love C.J. and Cicely’s relationship, but I also loved the friendships in this book. I’m always a sucker for friendships that are like family.

The only small issue I had with the book was the enemies to lovers aspect. I love that trope because of the build up of that kind of tension and then the sweet release when they finally get together. In With Just One Kiss, they did not stay “enemies” for long at all. Although, like Kelly said, Francis Ray didn’t waste any time!

We also discussed all the NYC locations to hit in a future literary date (If Kelly visits, she’ll be coming along!)

New York City Sites in With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray

While all the restaurants featured in the book are fictional, I’d have to go to a bar that is inspired by C.J.’s bar, Callahan’s. I’m not sure which Manhattan neighborhood it’s in but from the clues in the book, I think it might be Manhattan Valley. Therefore, I might head to the bar called Bob’s Your Uncle. Has a nice ring to it, right? It seems fitting because C.J. inherited the bar from none other than his uncle. Callahan’s also has bar games and so does Bob’s Your Uncle. Done!


Cicely lives in Harlem so I’d love to do a tour of Harlem and also check out the St. Nicholas Historic District, which has Striver’s Row. These historic landmark brownstones in Harlem are recognized as “gems of NYC architecture.” Learn more about Striver’s Row at Harlemworldmagazine.com.

As always, I’ll have to treat myself on this literary date. I found a very delicious-sounding Black-owned bakery called Make My Cake in Harlem. Kelly reminded me that one of the characters in the book makes a delicious lemon coconut cake at her restaurant, so getting cake definitely is a must for this book-inspired tour of NYC.

Popular NYC sites in With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray

Cicely also goes to the MoMA, Bloomingdales, and she and C.J. see a Broadway show together. They also had a Yankees game date. Finally, another date featured ice skating and a visit to the Empire State Building. So romantic!

Check out my I Heart New York Tour to see the MoMA and my Roomies Tour, which was all about music and Broadway.


I also think this book would inspire a shopping trip because the way author Francis Ray described all of Cicely’s outfits and accessories had me craving a new wardrobe. I’d have to find some spots I could afford or maybe splurge on one item at Bloomingdales? Hmm?

Let me know which of these spots you’d most want to see.

So everyone, if you love romance, New York City, and hot, respectful guys, then I suggest you…

Buy the Book!

I purchased With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray from a Black-owned bookstore called the Lit. Bar and you can too, by heading to Bookshop.org.

About the Author

With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray
Graphic by Kelly Reynolds

Francis Ray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with over thirty books. Sadly, she passed away in 2013 but her legacy lives on through her books and her daughter who represents her on social media.

On her Facebook page, I found an article written about her in The Dallas Morning News. The article is titled Romance of a Different Color and written by Deborah Bradley. Bradley wrote how Francis Ray was working as a nurse practitioner but grew tired of waiting around for representation in romance novels. Ray took matters into her own hand and began to write Black romance. Francis Ray told Bradley, “This is important to me because I like writing about the positive aspects of African-American life. I want to be sure that there are things that I and others would be proud to read. We have some fine Black men, but the ones who aren’t so fine, who don’t have respect for life and people, get the attention.”

Learn more about author Francis Ray…

Website: Francisray.com

I’m so glad I read this book. It’s filled with very fine Black men and strong Black women. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to read a Black romance. I definitely plan to read more from this Grayson Friends series. With Just One Kiss is actually the 6th book in the series. They are standalone books, but I can tell from reading that the characters definitely intertwine.

I would like to thank author Francis Ray for writing these books and to her daughter for keeping her legacy alive.

Again, to Kelly, thank you for inviting me to be on your podcast. You got me out of my comfort zone and showed me what a blast that can be.

Find Kelly:

Website: Boobiesandnoobies.com

Twitter: @Boobiespodcast

Instagram: @Boobiespodcast

Also, thank you to everyone who already listened to the podcast and gave me such positive feedback. It really meant a lot! Your support does not go unnoticed.

Next Up!

  • I’m currently reading King’s County by David Goodwillie. It was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got an email from a publisher about a book set in NYC. I had to say yes.
  • I’m still in the midst of doing my In Five Years literary date. Hopefully it won’t take me five years! Maybe I’m hesitating a bit on my own personal Mount Olympus aka walking across the Brooklyn Bridge…
  • On the podcast, I talked about an idea which is still ruminating. I think it would be cool if people in other states or countries did their own literary date and then be a guest blogger on my site. Kelly wants to do it, so I may test out the waters with her post (sorry Kelly;). If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll keep you in my pocket until I’m officially ready to put this out there. Just collecting seeds for now. One day they will be watered and flourish.
  • Finally, I’m still working on my rom-com book. Getting closer to 50 pages. At 50 pages, I get Häagen Dazs chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Best. Ice cream. Ever.

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With Just One Kiss by Francis Ray


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  1. Love this so much! This book sounds amazing (added it to my TBR!) and you and Kelly were brilliant on the podcast! Hopefully when things settle down a bit in the world, you can go on a book tour–that bakery sounds amazing!

    And I’m SO thrilled you’re working on your romcom book! YAY! Would you believe I’m eating some Haagen Dazs while reading this post? We’re soul mates, I swear 😛

    1. Thank you Sarah! Sorry for my delayed response. Does anyone ever notice? I never get notified when someone replies to my comment on a blog post.
      Anyway, I’m so glad you enjoyed the podcast! It was a fun experience for sure! Glad I have that under my belt now since I was so nervous about it.
      Yes, going on my literary dates are a little challenging right now. One day they will come back in full force! I definitely want to go to the bakery I mentioned. It sounds delicious!

      I’m thrilled about my romcom too! I think after I get my next few blog posts out, I may have to just focus solely on the book for a little while. I’m not good at multitasking.

      I love that you had my fav Haagen Dazs while reading my post!😋 Thank you again for reading!!

  2. Confession: I had to google “miniaudière.” LOL I had no idea. But, now I want a sparkly miniaudière, too. Is this a NYC fashion thing, though? Cuz here in the south… Or, maybe I’m just OLD.

    I love that Cicely has a fashion blog and that we are using the term “man bar.” I need to hear more about this. AHAHA.

    Gosh, I do love an enemies to lovers kind of story – that’s a bummer it went right to SEXY LOVERS. I love tension, too. It needs to be drawn out. And um, Paris as a blogging goal sounds super dreamy!

    Yay, podcast – and you did fabulous. I also LOVE Schitt’s Creek, and as you know, I take my cinnamon buns with coffee, hehe. You should do a podcast about online dating…just saying. I’d listen religiously.

    I was going to ask you more about your In Five Years literary dates. I am anxiously waiting over here. Well, I am, but I also completely understand that there is a global pandemic soooo ya know. Thanks for the update there.

    Also, I cannot wait for your rom-com to be completed. I’m so excited. I bet it will be sexy and hilarious.

    1. I almost wrote that I had to google that too! Darn, I wish I had included that now. Haha!
      I have no idea if it’s a thing but another one mentioned multiple times in this book was an attaché case. Cicely is fancy!

      Haha and yeah she did not like his bar because she thought it was a man bar. They don’t have wine so she’s probably right. She’s not a fan of beer.

      I love enemies to lovers too so I was a little disappointed that it didn’t last longer. They went from enemies to friends with sexual tension very fast. But CJ’s respectful ways won me over.

      Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. That was pretty fun to do despite my nerves. Got me out of my comfort zone. Omg my apartment was hot though. I had to turn off my broken AC and my fans so the noise wouldn’t come through. I don’t miss my hot apartment days!😂

      Sadly, if I did a podcast on dating I wouldn’t have much material to go on.🤦🏻‍♀️

      I’m sooo slow with my posts. In Five Years is coming. You have to teach me your ways so I can get more efficient. And I was totally slow at responding to your awesome comment. I’m sorry! Part of it is that when I comment on people’s posts, I never get alerted to when they respond. I wonder if it’s that way for everyone or is it just me?🤔

      I need to get back to my rom-com! I have a few post ideas that I want to get to and then I may take a break from posting to focus on it. Or I’ll figure out how to multi-task and do it all!

      Thank you for reading! I appreciate your support.

  3. I have to confess, I’m more about the food than I am the romance. The book sounds fabulous, but it really had me at the cinnamon bun. And yes, I’ll drink it with orange juice. Although I’d prefer a cafe con leche.

    Sounds like you have some great spots picked up for this literary date. I can’t wait to see your photos of Harlem. I spent a ton of time there growing up since my old siblings grew up and lived there for a huge portion of their lives. Of course, lots have changed since I was a kid. I do remember when they were selling brownstones for dirty cheap -gut job and remodel needed- and I know a few people that regret not buy then. Now they are renovated, restored, and fabulous.

    The podcast was amazing and you did amazing. I hope you have more podcase appearances in the future.

    1. Haha! Oh my god I’ve been on such a cinnamon bun kick ever since Kelly pointed them out. I just made my own this morning. I could only find pillsbury which I think might not be the author’s daughter’s favorite. They were pretty decent though, but I know they could be better. Still, I devoured a good amount.
      Oh man I’d seriously regret not buying one of those brownstones either. Do you have any spots in Harlem you recommend checking out? Foodie or otherwise?

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the podcast. Thank you for your support!!

  4. I was totally wondering if “man bar” was code for something else, ahahaha. But this sounds like a really cute story! And props to you again for being on a podcast (currently listening to it now, at long last and laughing my ass off at the “dick in the box” comment–you sound great <3!)! :]

    I've been to Harlem once (that was actually where my 2nd-choice med school was)! And yay for Broadway shows + ice skating! <3 I'm looking forward to the

    1. Haha! Cicely did not like his bar and thought it was a man bar. Doesn’t even have wine.
      You are the coolest for listening to the podcast. You’re awesome! Thank you! Haha! Kelly’s trademark line makes me lol too!
      Thank you for checking out my post! Hopefully a literary date will happen in the near future!

  5. This book sounds great!! Yay for being on a podcast; that’s so cool omg. I’ll have to try and check that episode out for sure! Oooh, and I love the name of that bookstore, the Lit Shop has such a nice ring to it for sure 🙂