Just One Kiss
I had a bit of a wake up call last year when I realized I’d reviewed ten series romances – and awarded nearly all of them C range grades (one was a D). Perhaps my go-to “light and easy” reads were becoming neither light nor easy. I backed way off this year; Just One Kiss is the first series romance I’ve read. Happily, it is precisely the sort of light, easy series romance I enjoy.
Angela Loukas, comfort baker extraordinaire, runs a Seattle bakery called A Taste for All Pleasures. It’s one part of five businesses housed together, each of which caters to one of the five senses. Angela and her fellow entrepreneurs are all college friends from Washington University, and all of them live in apartments above their shops. (All of them are, of course, destined to appear in future books in the series). Angela hasn’t dated in some time. Her ex-husband was a first class jerk with a snobby family, and he cheated on her with a “classier” woman. But when she sees Daniel Flynn walk through her door, she thinks she might just be ready to enter the dating pool again.
Daniel is in the shop on a sad errand. It’s his dead fiancee’s birthday, and he plans to “celebrate” by listening to her music and eating the type of cupcakes she loved – white with white frosting. Angela guesses – correctly – that Daniel is more of a chocolate cupcake kind of guy. She slips him a chocolate one on top of the half dozen white ones, and wraps them all up so he’ll be surprised later. It ends up being just the right medicine. Daniel was with Kate for years, and on her deathbed she extracted a promise from him – that he would wait to date again until after their would-be wedding day. It’s been a year and a half, and he still has six months to go. But when he sees that chocolate cupcake, he starts to think that maybe it’s time to move on.
Daniel returns to A Taste for All Pleasures to thank Angela, but when she gets up the nerve to ask him out, he confesses his vow of celibacy. They agree to meet as “friends” to discuss a business opportunity (she’d like to cater the dessert portion of his software company’s party). Their “non-date” ends with a kiss in the rain, which is complemented by some backroom sex a couple of days later. Both of them are a little skittish, so they try to take it slow.
There are a few side plots going on. One involves two of the business owners – Bonnie and Seth – who shared a romance during college and clearly have not gotten over each other. Bonnie’s flower shop is struggling, and she’s worried. The other involves Angela herself, who fell in love with European bakeries on her honeymoon, and her dream is to recreate their atmosphere and delicious pastries. But everyone – Daniel, her ex, her customers – keeps telling her that her cookies and cupcakes are her strength. It’s not what she wants to hear. I really enjoyed this part of the story and its resolution.
Really, I liked nearly everything about this book. Daniel and Angela are a cute couple, and a believable one. The crux of their conflict is that intellectually they’d like to dip their toes in the water a little, but their hormones would prefer that they dive into the pool head first. They are genuine people with baggage, but not the type of overwhelming baggage that doesn’t quite fit into a shorter novel. I also like when characters talk, act, and dress like the young people they are supposed to be, rather than forty-year-olds in disguise. These two – and the other young people in the novel – act the part.
The set up for the next book is pretty blatant; it has to be Bonnie and Seth. Since I liked them both – and the other secondary characters for that matter – I didn’t mind. I’ll think I’ll stick around for the rest of the books. If you enjoy a light, quick series romance, give this one a try. Just One Kiss is a series romance I’m happy to recommend.