I think that Eloisa James’ Seven Minutes in Heaven is even wittier, sexier, and sweeter than her previous novels. That’s really saying something, because I could apply those adjectives to every book of hers that I’ve read.
Eugenia Snowe owns and operates Snowe’s Registry, an agency which pairs highly qualified governesses with some of the wealthiest and most discriminating families in England. Believing Eugenia to be a former governess rather than the daughter of a Marquess, Ward Reeve approaches Eugenia and insists that she serve as governess to his two younger half-siblings who have been recently orphaned. The stakes are high: if the children don't learn how to behave in polite society, there will be one more black mark against Ward in the custody battle that he is waging with his grandmother.
Eugenia says no, and no, and no, although she's mightily tempted by Ward's appeal. But after Ward and her assistant work together to “kidnap” her, Eugenia readily accepts a fortnight’s stay at Ward’s home where she will instruct the children while they wait for a new governess to arrive.
Eugenia also decides that she will take Ward as the first lover she’s had since her husband died seven years earlier. This is a great development for the reader because the chemistry between Eugenia and Ward is phenomenal.
James’ uses the governess and highborn/lowborn tropes inventively here, and I loved that Eugenia is never ashamed of the fact that she took on a profession. She’s smart, sexy, independent, and tender, and the relationships she develops with Ward and his younger siblings are sweet to watch unfold. And I could say the same for Ward, who is truly invested in the happiness of his younger siblings and whose interactions with Eugenia suggest that he could be invested in hers, as well.
But Eugenia and Ward are both still coming to terms with the unconventional ways in which they were parented. Throughout the novel, they struggle to decide whether they should pursue what they would like to do or court society’s praise by doing what society would like for them to do. And this—their conflicted desires, their tremendous chemistry—is complicated by Ward’s misunderstanding about Eugenia’s birth.
So just to recap, Seven Minutes in Heaven offers hot chemistry, plus tenderness, plus protagonists who are equal parts fierce and nurturing. Sounds like a winner to me.
Seven Minutes in Heaven is highly recommended if you’re in any kind of reading mood. Period.
Give me that HEA, please.
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