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
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.
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!
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!
About the Author
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…
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.
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.
- 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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