FIRST FRIDAYS by Cherlyn Michaels


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Single St. Louis entrepreneur can’t decide between her heart and her head when she becomes attracted to her new partner.

For Naja, losing her dull-but-easy day job is an unexpected blessing that forces her to finally live her longtime dream of starting her own Internet café. With intelligence, organizational skills and the ability to put together a compelling presentation, Naja only lacks funding and connections. So with success in mind, she lets her no-nonsense best friend Vlora drag her to a local “First Fridays” networking event, where young African-American professionals mingle over cocktails and dancing. At such a mixer, she meets—in addition to the usual deadbeats and players—Russ, a serious and successful businessman from Atlanta. Impressed by her idea, he agrees to help her find investors, making no secret that he would not mind taking things to a more personal level. The two become inseparable, sharing everything but a bed, and Naja finds it harder and harder to resists Russ’s advances. She succumbs, in spite of the advice of her friends, just as their business begins to take off. Almost immediately to the reader, Russ exhibits some creepy and controlling tendencies, keeping Naja out of important board meetings and telling her she needs to lose weight—even offering to spring for liposuction. He also jealously forbids her to see her good friend Chaney, a streetwise but gentle coffee-shop owner who is obviously sweet on her. A stressed-out Naja eventually wises up and breaks off the intimate relationship with Russ, while trying to hold onto the partnership. He appears to take it better than she expects, but the other shoe drops when Russ goes behind her back to ruin the business. It falls to Naja not only to rebuild the business, but to rebuild her self-esteem. Michaels’ second effort (Counting Raindrops Through a Stained Glass Window, 2005) boasts a message of female solidarity and empowerment, but it falls short in the romance department.

Cautionary tale of one woman’s struggle to control her own destiny.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 2007
ISBN: 1-4013-0814-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2006