Seven Days in June is a contemporary romance novel by Tia Williams. As described by the publishers, Eva and Shane reconnect during 7 days of summer in Brooklyn, 20 years after after they first met and spent 7 days in love.
The Black Literati
Eva Mercy writes vampire erotica and has a dedicated fan following. She’s working on the 15th book in the series, called Cursed and the series has just been optioned for film rights. Between her writing, being a single mom, and dealing with an invisible disability, she has no room for dating.
Shane Hall writes serious literature and he has won multiple awards. He has been reclusive and seldom gives interviews. His books do not generally appeal to the same audience as Eva’s and they have not run into each other in any literary circles even though they have a friend/mentor, Cece, in common.
It’s a shock to Eva when Shane shows up at a literary panel where she is a panelist. She’s read all his books and is surprised to realize that he has read all her books as well. He extolls them as feminist fiction, saying more on the subject than anyone has heard him say about anything in years.
It turns out that for all these years, Shane and Eva have been writing about each other, telling their story in their books.
A Tragic Past
Eva is a single mother with a 12-year old daughter, Audre. From childhood, Eva suffered from debilitating migraines, for which she needs to administer injections to herself for the pain. Over the counter medication does nothing to help. As a child, she dealt with her disability and her family situation with drugs, when she could find them. She also engaged in self harm through cutting.
Shane grew up in foster care. The first time he felt loved and cared for in a family, he lost that family. The mother was killed while taking him to the hospital the first time he broke his arm, and his foster father did not keep him after that. He started getting into trouble with the law, and into drugs and alcohol. And he punished himself by deliberately breaking his arm numerous times over a span of years.
A Whirlwind History
In high school, Shane and Eva, then Genevieve Mercier, had a whirlwind friendship. Eva’s mother, Lizette, spent her lifetime following men around, depending on them to provide for her. Finding herself again at a new school, after fighting off her mom’s latest boyfriend, Eva is determined to make a new friend. She approaches the cute, loner boy, Shane. He’s not particularly friendly, but when one of their classmates takes issue with Eva, and cuts her hair, calling it a weave, a fight breaks out in the classroom. While the teacher escapes, Shane uses his cast to fight one of the kids, defending Eva, and breaking his arm once more. They both end up in the hospital and sneak out together, going to crash at a friend’s of Shane.
For seven days, Shane and Eva are inseparable. They talk, drink, escape together, reveal their secrets and pain. They continue to crash at the home of Shane’s friend; her parents are frequently out of town because her father is an ambassador. Shane dealt drugs to the daughter and had a casual relationship with her. She let him crash at the place whenever her parents were out of town.
Shane and Eva fall in love, and Shane promises to never leave. On one drunken night, Eva gives them both brands on their wrists with the other’s first initial (G for Shane and S for Genevieve). But when Eva wakes up at the hospital, her mother is there and Shane is gone. Eva feels betrayed and abandoned when her mother tells her that Shane left. It takes twenty years for her to find out the truth.
Twenty Years Later
Twenty years later, at a literary panel, it’s the first time that Shane and Eva meet since they were in high school. That first meeting doesn’t go particularly well. Eva had a migraine and wasn’t up to a conversation with Shane, but agreed to meet with him.
Eva doesn’t quite trust Shane but she is drawn to him. Then, she needs him to help rescue her daughter. After Audre almost gets expelled for outing the affair of her English teacher with one of the parents during a “therapy” session that she was live streaming with one of her classmates, the teacher lost his job and the mother lost her marriage. For the principal to keep Audre in the school, Eva has to get her an English teacher. Luckily, Eva knows an English teacher; that’s Shane’s day job.
When Eva shows up at Shane’s apartment (he’s renting James Baldwin’s old flat for the summer), he immediately agrees to her request when she asks him. Then they end up spending the afternoon enjoying Brooklyn and having sex at a sleep exhibition. Eva leaves immediately after. However, one of Eva’s fans saw them having ice cream and enjoying each other’s company earlier in the day and posted photos of their “date” on her Facebook fan page.
Past And Present
When Eva invites Shane over one day, she’s forgotten that Audre has no school that day, so the two meet. Audre is apprehensive after a recent fight between her and her mother but both she and Shane are curious about each other.
For the first time in twenty years, Shane and Eva discuss what happened twenty years before. Chatting outside her home, Eva learns that Shane didn’t abandon her; Lizette had him arrested and sent to prison. That day, twenty years ago, after shooting up with drugs, Eva passed out and would not respond to him. Worried, he called her mother. She came to the house where they were staying and found Eva unresponsive, overdosed. She called the cops and ambulance. Shane refused to leave Eva and so Lizette had him arrested. Due to good behavior, he was released in 2 years.
Eva did not want to believe Shane but called her mother to confirm. She realized Lizette was jealous of his devotion to her. After confirming Shane’s story with Lizette, Eva goes to Shane’s.
Eva starts seeing Shane, and they rekindle their love. It’s clear to everyone at a party they attend, a party hosted by friend and mentor Cece, that they are a couple. Audre approves and spends some time talking to him at the party, and she invites him to come to their mother/daughter brunch before she leaves to visit her dad in California the next day.
While Shane is busy being happy and in love, one of his mentees, Ty, gets shot. Shane flew to see Ty while he was in the hospital but Ty dies without regaining consciousness. Shane feels guilty because Ty had called him many times during the party, and he’d declined the call.
Given his past struggles with the law, Shane mentored several boys. When Ty dies, he sees this as confirmation that he is not good for the people in his life. He considers himself responsible for his mother’s death, and now Ty’s. And in his rush to get to Ty, he did not tell Audre and Eva that he would not be attending the brunch.
Eva tried to call Shane many times during brunch but got no response. She made up an excuse for him to Audre but Audre saw through it and told her to give Shane a chance. When Shane eventually called Eva, she refused his calls.
On the same day that he missed the brunch, Shane returns to town for an awards ceremony, The Litties. Eva and Shane meet there and in a few minutes, they have an intense conversation and Eva makes a big decision. She’s surprised to win in her category and at her acceptance speech, Eva announces that she’s ending the series and there will be no book 15. She calls herself a misfit. In his acceptance speech for the Langston Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award, Shanes words are brief: “This is for the misfit”.
Eva struggles to trust Shane and he struggles to forgive himself. Eva worried that they didn’t and couldn’t work. Shane thought that he was not yet good enough for her, but he wasn’t giving up.
Shane had been sober for two years and needed to get more stable in his sobriety and build his self-confidence. Eva needed time to work on her new book and decide what she wanted.
The Ending of Seven Days in June
History and Future
After setting aside her dream for years, Eva is ready to write the book she’s always wanted to write, a book about her female lineage, a story of family, passing, change, resilience. She needed to trace her roots to write this story, and that involved going to Louisiana.
I feel like I’m HOME on this bayou full of short people who inherited generations of farms and fields and stories and terror and rage and brilliance and resilience and gumbo and culture. And everyone looks like me
In the bayou, Eva was fascinated by the people and culture. She felt like she had come home. She reached out to Shane by texting and that’s how it started again. Then she moved on to sending him voice memos. Finally, they talked on the phone, taking things slowly.
Shane was ready to come to Eva but left the choice up to her. However, Audre could tell her mother was missing Shane. She reached out to Cece for help getting her mom and Shane together.
Cece got Shane and Eva to fly and meet up at a restaurant in Atlanta, telling each of them a different story about why they needed to be there. Shane thought she was going to be a panelist and Eva thought she was attending a surprise party.
Shane and Eva arrived to find a romantic setting for two. Cece had reserved the Mediterranean restaurant just for them and it was perfect. They were finally ready for their happily ever after.
They kissed, and they restarted, right where they stood.
Seven Days in June is a fun, sexy read. There is a slight magical element, with Eva having a near-death experience each time something major is about to happen in her life.
Audre is a very precocious tween. Eva is mothering her as she had wished to be parented, with care and consideration. Audre goes to private school and is developing a strong foundation in Black history and feminism. Rewriting her history, Eva paints Lizette as a strong, feminist, woman.
The other details around Eva such as her friends and her very devoted fan club add levity to some very big, serious subjects. Although this is a romance, Williams brings up some big issues such as invisible disability, self-harm, drugs and alcohol, family and mother-daughter relationships, love. The author also has an invisible disability with migraines and addresses this topic with sensitivity and depth.
I experienced a range of emotions reading this book and enjoyed the story. Did I already mention that it is fun?! I devoured the book in a weekend. (Thanks for the recommendation Elle!) I highly recommend Seven Days in June. It is by no means PG with its big topics and very sexy scenes.