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Seven Minutes in Heaven (Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers) Mass Market Paperback – January 31, 2017
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A dazzling new Regency-set historical romance in Eloisa James’ New York Times bestselling Desperate Duchesses series!
Witty and elusive Eugenia Snowe has all society begging for one of her premiere governesses-except the powerful Edward Reeve, who bursts into her office with his arrogant demands.
No question that Eugenia enjoys crossing wits with the brilliant inventor, but Ward wants far more than a governess. He wants Eugenia, and he’ll stop at nothing to have her-including kidnapping.
Will Eugenia lose her heart in the most reckless gamble of her life, or will she discover the sweetest pleasure she’s ever known?
All it will take is seven minutes...
“Another bright, delightful read from a queen of historical romance.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“RITA Award-winner James (My American Duchess, 2016) woos readers with another irresistible liaison of lushly sensual romance and deliciously wicked wit, and her flair for crafting unforgettable, richly dimensional characters is the satisfying center of this scrumptious literary confection.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Wit and humor enliven both the dialogue and the presentation of the characters [...] Recommended to Regency lovers.” — Historical Novel Society
From the Back Cover
Witty and elusive Eugenia Snowe has all society begging for one of her premiere governesses—except the powerful Edward Reeve, who bursts into her office with his arrogant demands.
No question that Eugenia enjoys crossing wits with the brilliant inventor, but Ward wants far more than a governess. He wants Eugenia, and he’ll stop at nothing to have her—including kidnapping.
Will Eugenia lose her heart in the most reckless gamble of her life, or will she discover the sweetest pleasure she’s ever known?
All it will take is seven minutes . . .
- Publisher : Avon; 1st edition (January 31, 2017)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 432 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062389459
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062389459
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 1.2 x 4.1 x 6.7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #475,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on November 3, 2021
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FINAL DECISION: Incredibly lovely story of two people quietly falling in love despite their best intentions. The story gently pulled these two characters together and I loved every moment of them falling in love with one another. As a fan of James's work, this book was immensely satisfying as it pulled so many other books together.
THE STORY: Eugenia Snowe is a widow who owns a elite agency for governesses. She has shocked the aristocracy by taking on a profession but has managed to keep some standing with the ton. Edward "Ward" Reeve is the son of an earl and needs a new governess for his wards (his half-siblings) and comes to Eugenia's offices in order to get a replacement. Ward desperately needs a governess to help shape up his siblings in order to fight for guardianship of them. Although Ward is the son of an earl, he is illegitimate. He also doesn't realize that Eugenia is actually a "lady". Eugenia and Ward immediately are in a contentious relationship and yet the two are attracted to one another. When Ward ends up kidnapping Eugenia to help in his cause, the two begin an affair that neither intends to lead to anything more.
OPINION: Some books are fun one time reads where the entirety of the book occurs on the surface of emotions, and some books urge you to sink deeply into the emotions of the characters, their lives and their romance. This book is the latter.
Nothing in this book turns on quick resolutions, excessive drama or quick action. I loved how I got to know the strengths and weaknesses of these characters.
Ward is a self-made man who has accomplished so much and yet has his own insecurities. A true gentleman, Ward is smart and talented, but entirely willing to give up his life for his half-siblings. Ward's life has changed dramatically after his engagement to Mia in FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE. The events in that book left Ward more cynical, with phobias and PTSD from his imprisonment. He is also remarkably clueless about social conventions and doesn't realize that Eugenia is the daughter of a marquess. He is, however, determined to save his half-siblings from the tender mercies of his material grandmother. For that, Ward needs to turn two unschooled "small devils" into model children so that he can keep guardianship. I loved the balancing of Ward's human foibles in this book. He is imperfect and thus fascinating because of it. When he makes the "almost" unforgivable mistake with Eugenia, he takes well to the groveling required in those circumstances.
Eugenia is a woman who controls her own destiny. She is strong and an entrepreneur long before women were accepted in such roles. A widow, she thankfully deeply loved her husband (which is a nice change from women who seem to only have terrible first marriages). True, she might look back on her marriage with too much nostalgia, but the death of her husband and the years, changed Eugenia and made her more independent and stubborn. After years of being alone, she is shocked out of her widowhood by Ward. Attracted to him physically, she considers the possibility of an affair. I liked that Eugenia is not afraid of her sexuality even as she initially wants to linger in her memories of her husband.
For me, this book was a treat because it brought back two precocious children from James's Desperate Duchesses series. Bringing back children is often tricky because, of course, those with happy stories usually are not good subjects for books of their own. James has managed to provide the right amount of angst but focusing not only on their very early days of unhappiness, but also pivotal moments each experienced as adults which brought them moments of darkness. This makes the characters more interesting (because hey, who wants a story about well adjusted, perfectly happy and normal people without any flaws or painful pasts?).
This book made me fall madly in love with it as each page turned. Ward and Eugenia are smart and banter with one another as adults. They are completely willing to enjoy a sexual affair, but can't help but become emotionally entangled with one another. I only took a small amount off my rating because I couldn't help but feel that Ward should have been smarter to realize he was being a jerk with regards to Eugenia and, if nothing else, should have realized her origins long before he did. But that is just quibbling. This book is a joy to read and what it made me want to do is start reading the prior series over again because there is so much good stuff in this one.
WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of James's Desperate Duchesses series may remember both Ward and Eugenia as children who appeared in her Desperate Duchesses series (DESPERATE DUCHESS and DUCHESS BY NIGHT).
CONNECTED BOOKS: SEVEN MINUTES IN HEAVEN is the third book in the Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers series. (This series is a spin off of the Desperate Duchesses series). This book can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters that make the book better having read the other books in the series (actually both series).
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
The weakness in this story, for me, is Ward, the H. He irritated the heck out of me and was only redeemed by his generous and insightful speech before the Peers (which convinced me much more than his final "grand gesture") and, while I admired him as a Dad/brother, and was amazed by his stamina (in bed, across a dining table, wherever) I couldn't warm to him as a long term partner. Instead, I was quite prepared for him to be tossed out on his ear, or posterior, or even his (of course) impressive appendage, but it's a HR, so he isn't, because James creates him very deliberately to have one major flaw, which is the Big, Big Misunderstanding. And then she creates the unwrapping of that, making possible the atonement, the lack of forgiveness by the h, Eugenia, the further grovelling, the public declaration, the grand gesture and the - gasp - ecstasy of true love/HEA.
The strength of this story comes from the h, Eugenia, who didn't irritate me one whit. She is much more interesting than the H, for a whole range of reasons, with only one of them the grief she still carries for her young husband and her loyalty to his memory. She is also intriguing as the young and lonely girl who was attacked by a rat, surrounded by courtesans, but also loved by her degenerate, then reformed father, all from a previous James tale. Eugenia is now all grown up and a workaholic entrepreneur who has driven down grief by being absorbed in running her governess business. She is great with Wade's siblings. And, very importantly, totally in thrall to those characteristically lusty and (to my mind, overly repetitive) James sex scenes. (Interestingly, and, unusually in HR-land, only after checking out Wade's recent past, a consideration that I found highly satisfying for James to get her to take into account, French letters or otherwise.) In fact, Eugenia is so much a hostage to the sex that she permits Wade to treat her very badly and to reject her - ruthlessly. I found this distressing, but plausible. Eugenia is coming alive after a long period of guilt and grief, she is warm and giving and her almost immediate investment of one-sided "love" into their marathon sessions of sex has made her vulnerable. Vulnerable, but not stupid. It takes her god-father, the Duke of Villiers, to explain the three types of lovers she needs - in a great scene towards the end - for her to agree that she deserves more.
This story is, in my view, for the most part a solid 3, but I'm bumping it up to 4, in gratitude for the cameo performance by Villiers. Still sexier than Wade, even though his hair has turned white, as he strides across the floor in his red heels, or lounges against a wall muttering insults at the nincompoop H, or drifts off to play chess with the Duchess of Beaumont. Even Eugenia bemoans his happy marriage and the consequent inappropriateness of him as a lover. I can't take the rating up to 5 stars because James doesn't give us enough of Villiers. And she brought someone back from the dead, which itched at me all through the story, even after I read the Author Note at the end. And also because it isn't as good as the earlier Duchess stories. So 4 it is.
ETA: The reviews by Penny Black and OLT, read after this, have made me reflect further about Ward. James is no fool and her creation of Ward's frailty is deliberate. And explained.
On reflection, Ward's main sin re "suitability" of a potential bride is somewhat similar to that of Villiers. Villiers draws the similarity to Eugenia's attention, not excusing himself or the nincompoop. But Villiers also reflects on what he has learned in recent years about the misery of children bearing the stain of illegitimacy and he does get Eugenia to empathise with Ward about how that has impacted on his character and outlook. OLT is right - Ward is too interested in bonking Eugenia and not enough interested in asking about her past. But James nails this as well, doesn't she? Ward is a bloke, after all. Ditto not understanding how to talk about difficult things with the children. Men of that era would, for the most part, have lacked that skill. In fairness to Ward, when Eugenia teaches him to ask ask questions, rather than make declarations, he cottons on. In the end, however, the brutal way he rejects Eugenia is impossible to overlook. Seedy.
Top reviews from other countries
Eugenia Snowe is a wealthy widow and the daughter of the Marquis of Broadham (hero of Duchess by Night). Devastated when her husband died, Eugenia has no intention of marrying again. To the horror of the ton, she has set up a very successful employment agency for governesses but still feels as though there is something missing in her life.
Ward is a brilliantly clever inventor and the illegitimate son of the Earl of Gryffyn (hero of Desperate Duchesses). However, Ward's mother Lisette was a complete nightmare - neglectful and more than a little unhinged. Or as Eugenia's father says, 'The type who would keep drinking tea while faint screams came from the dungeon'. But it turns out Lisette had two more children before she died - legitimate ones - after scandalously running away with the under-age Viscount Darcy. Lisette has entrusted her young children into the care of Ward - but now his evil grandmother wants custody - and is prepared to fight him in Court to achieve it. Ward is in desperate need of an ultra-respectable governess to mould his eccentric siblings into perfect children and he's decided only the best will do - Eugenia herself.
As with all Eloisa's books it is the sheer brilliance of her writing which keeps me entertained, along with the humour and, of course, her characters. Eugenia and Ward are attracted to each other right from the start, don't bother to hide it and soon embark on an affair - but nothing serious, obviously, because Eugenia was madly in love with her late husband, and Ward because he knows he has to marry an aristocrat if he is to keep custody of his half-siblings. It's a shame he's so wrapped up in himself he doesn't realise Eugenie neatly fulfils all his criteria (she actually tells him so at one point!) until it is far too late.
As well as the banter between hero and heroine, I loved the characters of the children - Lizzie, who has taken to wearing a black veil at all times and quoting inappropriate lines from Shakespeare, and Otis, whose pet rat goes everywhere with him. I particularly loved the rat!
I only had one niggle. As I read the story I kept thinking 'I'm sure this character is dead', to the point where I had to dig out the book they originally appeared in and - sure enough - the character was dead - I hadn't imagined it! I then spent the rest of the story worrying that perhaps Eloisa James had forgotten she'd previously killed the character off. However, the reason for their Lazarus-like reappearance is explained in the author's note at the end of the story - I just wish this note had appeared at the beginning!
Recommended for all fans of historical romance and romantic comedy.
The plot has been discussed and analysed so I don't think I will do any harm by adding my bit. I really liked this book and I like the way the author has given the women in the 'Numbers' series careers, moving along with the times. Eugenia was a very likeable character, warm and kind but with a streak of determination and no-nonsense about her. The children were both precocious and adorable, and their issues with their unconventional upbringing before they came into Ward's care was very moving. Ward was the more difficult character to understand; because we see him at home with his brother and sister, I tended to forget that he is not part of the idle, titled rich, but a very clever man who has made his own fortune through his inventions - he was also an Oxford don, so hardly the usual male lead in a historical romance. He had his own issues from his illegitimacy and because of it was utterly single-minded in his determination that his half-siblings, born legitimately, should not suffer in any way at all, especially since their father was titled and therefore they would be expected to enter society at the highest levels. For me, that made his reaction to Eugenia more understandable. The issue was miscommunication - Ward never asked specifically about Eugenia's background, and she never proferred the information, so perhaps they were both at fault in that respect.
Ward's epiphany was a bit too sudden, literally on the heels of Eugenia leaving his house, but it happened before he knew about her titled family and he had already made his decision to go after her and ask her to marry him. Eugenia then rejected him, in front of a roomful of people, so I suppose Ward got his comeuppance - and, in fairness to Ward, Eugenia had made it very plain at the outset, when they frankly discussed becoming lovers, that she wasn't interested in remarrying, that she was still in love with her deceased husband. One can't really blame Ward for the fact that she fell in love with him and declared herself [precipitously, I thought] when she was fully aware of his single-minded determination to protect the children from their ghastly great-grandmother and also marry a titled lady to introduce them to society when the time came to do so - he wasn't stringing Eugenia along, nor was he doing anything that they had not mutually agreed to as consenting adults. It just took him longer to work it all out!
The reintroduction of all the previous characters was delightful, with Villiers, as usual, taking a leading role! I really like that the author hasn't in any way altered his personality - he may be besotted with his wife, and proud of his children, but he still has a witty, wicked tongue.
My recommendation - read and enjoy this book; this is a romance - if there had been no miscommunication, there wouldn't have been a story at all!