What Lady Jenny wants for Christmas…
For Christmas, soft-spoken Lady Jenny Windham craves the freedom to pursue her artistic ambitions, though it will mean scandalizing her ducal parents and abandoning all hope of a family of her own. She confides her plans to successful artist Elijah Harrison when he’s commissioned to paint a portrait of her small nephews, because assisting Elijah will bring Jenny that much closer to her heart’s desire–won’t it?
…Will break both their hearts
Elijah Harrison finds in his unlikely assistant not only an inspiring muse and unappreciated talent, but also a lovely and passionate woman. If Elijah supports Jenny’s career, his own professional interests will suffer, but more significantly, he will lose Jenny forever. Both Jenny and Elijah must choose between true love and a lifelong dream.
Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, 24 September 2013
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level 2.5
Review Rating 4.5 stars
Review by Lady Blue
Lady Jenny is the daughter of a duke, the youngest of eight surviving children. She has already had several seasons, and remains the only unmarried child. Jenny burns with artistic talent and has made a decision that she must go to Paris to live, where she can pursue her art and live free of her family. She has always appeared to be the most circumspect and dependable of all her siblings, but inside she is truly angry with her family as much as she loves them. Her talent is immense, yet is not regarded by her family as anything other than a hobby.
It’s near Christmas, and Jenny is visiting her sister, Louisa, and her family. A stranger comes to the door, seeking shelter, as his horse has gone lame and the weather is bad. He’s admitted to the house, and it turns out he is Elijah Harrison, heir to the Marquess of Flint, and a renowned artist, who was on his way to their sister Sophie’s home to paint a portrait of her children. Years earlier, Jenny had studied art while disguised as a boy, and Elijah had been a model for the class.
Now, Elijah’s goal is to be accepted into the Royal Academy of Artists. In order to accomplish this, he must submit work that showcases his talent for painting children. For some reason, he does not have the same talent with children that he has with adults. While his paintings are technically correct, they lack something. Jenny is anxious to pursue this opportunity to work with Elijah. She plans to go on to Sophie’s house also, and to assist him with his portraits. It turns out that she is truly able to help him.
They work together, helping each other, sometimes bickering, but developing a fast and deep friendship and attraction. Jenny wants to take it further, but without strings. She is determined to go to Paris. Their attraction turns to love, and Elijah proposes, but Jenny refuses. They are both heartbroken, but Jenny doesn’t feel she can give up her dream. Elijah, being the stuff heroes are made of, supports her.
Jenny and Elijah say their goodbyes. Aside from their own heartbreak, they have family issues to deal with. Elijah has been estranged from his father for ten years while he pursued his dream, and he fully understands Jenny. Meanwhile, Jenny is determined to leave her over-protective family, who are unaware of how great a talent she has.
I love books that really tug at my emotions, and this one did. First, I was angry at Jenny for throwing away love, and not even considering that she could have it all. I was angry with her family for not giving her more recognition and support. There are a couple of scenes where Jenny finally confronts her family that had tears streaming down my face. And my heart broke for Elijah, who was determined to let Jenny follow her dream. As I was reading, I was pleading with both of them to please come to their senses, and realize what they were throwing away.
This is the eighth (and final) book in the Windham family series. It’s not necessary to read the others in order to appreciate this one, but they are well worthy of being read and enjoyed. For those of us who have followed the whole series, we get glimpses of many old friends. I particularly enjoyed seeing all of our favorite men hiding in the studio in an attempt to avoid the Christmas mayhem. I highly recommend reading this book at any time of the year.