Jan 31 2017 11:00am

First Look: Eloisa James’s Seven Minutes in Heaven (January 31, 2017)

Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James

Eloisa James
Seven Minutes in Heaven
Avon / January 31, 2017 / $7.99 print,  $6.99 digital

Parenthood, for the wealthy and aristocratic in the 1800s—with their easy access to governesses should be easy but Eloisa James in her charming new book, Seven Minutes in Heaven easily dissuades us of this. No matter what era you live in, parenting is very complicated—as Eugenia Snowe and Edward Reeve know.

As children, they both had unorthodox childhoods. Eugenia until the age of ten, lived an unconventional life with her father, Lord Strange. Known as the most scandalous man in England because of the motley group of people he invited to live on his estate. Strange protected his daughter from his intellectual but debauched visitors by having the servants lock her in the nursery every night. He failed to supervise the servants, so Eugenia mainly raised herself. It’s only after Eugenia developed rat fever that he rectified his down fallings as a father. Plus, it helped that he fell in love with a wonderful woman, Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, who took them both in hand.

With a stable family life, Eugenia’s life takes a more conventional path, something that she instinctively craved. She meets her husband Andrew, the son of a viscount, at her debut ball and they soon marry. Sadly, he dies in a tragic boating accident. After mourning his death, she decides to open her own registry for governesses. Her eccentric entry into trade is overlooked because of her social status and wealth. Her governesses are very exclusive, and in high demand.

So, she is astonished when Edward Reeve, tells her that the governess that she provided him was not suitable, so he fired her, and now need another one:

“My governesses are highly trained and much in demand,” Eugenia stated. “They are considered essential in the best nurseries. Parents have been known to hide their children in the country and pretend they didn’t exist if I can’t find them a governess.” She paused in order to emphasize the statement, “I cannot offer you another of my governesses.”

Edward Reeve, now known as Ward,  is the illegitimate son of a duchess, and earl. After his birth, his maternal grandmother dropped him off on his father’s footsteps. Rather than following the conventional method of dealing with a child born under these circumstances, like placing him with a family on one of his estate, Lord Gryffyn, at eighteen, decided to raise him on his own. Ward's mother went on to marry and have additional children –again under scandalous circumstances. When the children’s father asks Ward to care for them, he can’t refuse.

However, their shared maternal grandmother thinks his household is unfit for the children, and has sued for custody.

“Their grandmother is a harridan, Mrs. Snowe, who has already expressed her belief that the children should be whipped into shape. Whether or not she means it is hardly the point: she is not a suitable guardian for children who have lost both their father and mother in a matter of a few years.”

Ward knows the his young siblings need acceptance, and understanding but also someone who won't  let the children ride roughshod over her. Nine- year- old Lizzie refuses to give up wearing her black veil, and eight-year-old Otis won't be separated from his pet rat Jarvis. Their grandmother has already attempted to wrench Lizzie's veil away, causing her to hide in the attic.  Plus she demanded that Jarvis be put down.  

Part of the joy of reading series is the ability to revisit characters from previous books, and with Seven Minutes from Heaven, readers have double the joy —no make that triple the joy because this book brings provides closure on the lives of several characters. Eugenia Snowe first appeared as a child in Duchess by Night, and Edward Reeve known as Teddy appeared in Desperate Duchesses and as adult called Ward, he was the kidnapped and jilted fiancé from Four Night with the Duke. Plus, Ward, and his half-sister Lizzie, and half-brother Otis share a mother, Lady Lisette from A Duke of Her Own.  It is so noteworthy when James creates characters with illnesses —both physicial and mental—that are treatable now, but really weren't back them. Poor Lady Lisette—troubled with manic depression, and destine to make irrational mistakes that affect her family.  

And since it’s an Eloisa James book you know the dialogue is deliciously flirty and suggestive:

Chocolate is everything a woman wants,” Eugenia said. She took the bite. “This is sweet, bitter, decadent, unbearably delicious... pure pleasure.” ...

Eugenia laughed. “There is ruination, Mr. Reeve. And then there is . . . ” She stopped, as a small insistent voice in the back of head was insisting that she had abandoned all principles. She decided to ignore it. “And then there is chocolate.

His eyes blazed and he reached across the table and laced his fingers into hers.

As always, the romance between the two main characters, Ward and Eugenia is passionate and hot. Here is a glimpse:  

Eugenia Snowe was not a reckless woman. She had always lived with clearly defined boundaries, relishing rather than rebelling against the rules of society her father chose to ignore.

But now, in a dark carriage with a man who had abducted her, a rash sense of abandonment welled up in her spilling to the ends of her fingers.

She wanted Ward Reeve with every fiber of her being. She wanted his burly body, and the burning hunger in his eyes, and the lock of untidy hair that had fallen over his eyes.

He was kissing her with a primal hunger that brought her body to life. And yet she felt like laughing.

You won't want to miss this delightful book.


Learn more about or order a copy of Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James, available now:

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Scarlettleigh, blogger.

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Jessica Avery
1. RomancingtheBookworm
Oooooooh so glad that I ordered this book. I can't wait for it to get here! The question is: re-read the whole Duchesses series FIRST? Or jump straight to the newest installment? Hmmmmm.
3. carmenlire
It's been so long since I've read the Desperate Duchesses series but as soon as I started reading this first look, I knew I had to have this book immediately! I actually read Harriet and Strange's book like a year before all the others because it was the only one that grabbed my interest at the time. To read the story of two children from this series is going to be so fun!
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