What Lady Jenny wants for Christmas…
For Christmas, soft-spoken Lady Jenny Windham craves the freedom to pursue her artistic ambitions, though that would scandalize her entire family. She confides her dreams to painter Elijah Harrison, because assisting Eliah will bring Jenny that much closer to her heart’s desire–won’t it?
…Will break both their hearts.
Elijah Harrison finds in Jenny an inspiring muse, and original talent, and also a lovely and passionate woman. Elijah can only support Jenny’s career at his own peril, but not encouraging her would be even worse. Whether he does or doesn’t help Jenny become an artist in her own right, he knows he’s going to lose her–and the love of his lifetime–forever…
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
I absolutely loved Jenny and Elijah’s story. I believe I loved it from the very beginning when Elijah arrived on Louisa and Joseph’s door steps and Jenny answered the door.
“Your time’s up, Genevieve. Time to pay the piper.” Uncertainty flashed through her eyes. “You needn’t bother with a critique. I insisted on ruthlessness and that other whatnot, but it’s getting late, and you’ve had to put up with Timothy, and tomorrow there will be more sittings with the boys—” He extended a hand down to her while she recited her excuses. Perhaps in the last decade she’d learned some prudence after all, for she fell silent. “Come sit by me and prepare for your fifty lashes.” She passed him her sketch pad, put her hand in his, and let him assist her to a place on the hearthstones beside his chair. She brought with her a whiff of jasmine. All day her fragrance had haunted the edges of Elijah’s awareness, a teasing pleasure lurking right beneath his notice. “A good critique always starts with something positive,” he told her. “This raises the critic in the esteem of his victim, and lowers the victim’s guard. When the bad news inevitably follows, the victim will be paying attention, you see, and will have no choice but to hear at least some of the difficult things hurled his way.” His tone was teasing; his warning was in earnest. “I will clap my hands over my ears at this rate, Mr. Harrison. Please get on with it.”
Elijah was an amazing character which I found him someone different than the heroes of the other books in this series, but a very good different. He didn’t come across as as lusty man, he was very mannerly and acted very much the gentleman. I liked the fact that when he was first alone with Jenny, he didn’t have lusty thoughts about her, he studied her, appreciated her beauty, absorbed it, and very badly wanted to sketch her.
“Will you marry me, Genevieve?” He kissed her cheek while Jenny flailed about for a response, any response at all. “The paint fumes are affecting you, Elijah, or you’ve spent too much time imbibing His Grace’s wassail.” “You affect me. I paint better when you’re near, and I was warned about His Grace’s wassail—or Her Grace’s—by the regent himself. Marry me.” She wanted to say yes, even if this declaration was not made out of an excess of romantic love. “If I marry you, I cannot go to Paris.” He leaned back, resting his head against the stones behind them, closing his eyes. “I’ll take you to bloody Paris, and you can appreciate for yourself that the cats have ruined the place. Rome isn’t much better, though I suppose you’ll want to go there and sniff it for yourself too.” He’d promise to take her there, probably to Moscow as well if she asked. “Babies put rather a cramp in one’s travel plans.” Because if she were married to him, and Windham proclivities ran true, babies would follow in the near, middle, and far terms, and all hope of painting professionally would be as dead as her late brothers. “Your siblings all managed to travel with babies. What’s the real reason, Genevieve? We’re compatible in the ways that count, and you’re dying on the vine here, trying to be your parents’ devoted spinster daughter. Marry me.” He was tired, and he felt sorry for her. Of those things, Jenny was certain, but not much else. She hadn’t foreseen an offer from him that would ambush her best intentions and be so bewilderingly hard to refuse. “You need to go home, Elijah. I need to go to Paris. Painting with you has only made me more certain of that. If I capitulate to your proposal, I will regret it for the rest of my days, and you will too. You feel sorry for me, and while I appreciate your sentiments, in Paris I will not be an object of pity.”
Jenny was quite similar to Elijah, having the strong desire to sketch him as well. One thing I really liked about this book was after they were intimate, his thoughts automatically went to marriage and family, while Jenny’s was all about Paris. I felt like that scene said a lot about Elijah and his caring nature for her.
As he forced himself to retreat from the world of his sketch, Elijah realized the boys were trying to start a squabble over some lower order of card—a three? “I-unts” became increasingly vocal, interspersed with “It’s not your turn,” until Elijah had to set his drawing aside and scoop William up in his arms. “What you want,” he informed the child, “is a stout tickling.” He scratched lightly at the boy’s round tummy, provoking peals of merriment. William’s laughter, surprisingly hearty coming from so small a body, sounded to Elijah exactly as Prudholm’s had when that worthy was still small enough to tease and tickle like this. “Elijah…” Jenny’s tone bore patience and a warning. Don’t get the little ones all wound up, Elijah. You’re the oldest, and they look to you for an example of proper decorum. He lifted the happy little fellow up over his head and slowly lowered him. “Enough, my lad. Time to go with nurse and have some bread and jam. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Or maybe some of your mama’s delicious stollen. Mmmm.” “I want some of Mama’s Christmas bread too,” Kit announced. “Come along, Aunt Jen. We’ll share.” Elijah stood, passed Sweet William off to his nurse, and took Aunt Jen by the hand. “I’m sure your aunt longs to accompany you, Kit, but she must stay here and help me clean up this awful mess.” Kit’s gaze darted to the scattering of cards on the rug. To a small child, a deck held thousands of cards, none of which little hands found easy to stack. Such a pity, that. “I’ll save you a piece of stollen, Aunt Jen.” Kit took his nurse’s hand and towed her toward the door. “’Bye, Aunt, ’bye, Mr. Harrison.” “Au revoir,” Elijah murmured.
Another favorite part of mine is the scenes with Jenny and Elijah, and the Windham children during their portrait paintings and sketching,
“The cards,” she began, turning away. He swung her back to face him—“Hang the perishing, damned cards”—and kissed her. “Elijah Harrison!” He kissed her again, more soundly. “That’s for thinking you needed those children to protect you from me this morning. Which gave you more worry, Genevieve, the idea that I might take liberties, or the notion I could possibly look upon you with indifference by the broad light of day?” She peered up at him. “Both?” One syllable held a world of uncertainty, a world of feminine anxiety that Elijah could not bear for her to suffer. He wrapped her in his embrace. “Neither, you daft creature.”
Also the meddling of the Windham siblings and their spouses was quite good. They could see how good Jenny an Elijah were for each other and how they tried their darnest to get them to see it.
For long minutes, he contented himself with stroking her hair, her back, her derriere. His passion was not sated, and yet he was content. As he drew a queen of hearts on her back with the tip of her braid, Elijah debated telling Genevieve Windham that he loved her.
After finishing this, it sorta saddens me that this series is over as I loved this family so much. They were highly entertaining and memorable. But than k heavens Grace has created a new series that branches off to other Windham relatives and characters which I can’t wait to dive into.