Reviewed 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 one. 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 with 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 Jenny’s other 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 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 book 8 of the Windham family series. It’s not necessary to read the others 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.
Review posted on Romantic Historical Reviews