REVIEW: Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait by Grace BurrowesWednesday, December 4, 2013 0:00
Stevie‘s review of Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait (Windham Series, Book 8) by Grace Burrowes
Historical Romance published by Sourcebooks Casablanca 24 Sep 13
It’s taken me a while to decide how to grade this book. On the one hand it’s a historical that most of the time completely immerses me in its world, and a series novel that works as a standalone, even though there are a few points where the cast feels a little unwieldy due to couples from previous stories having to make an appearance. Eventually, however, I decided I felt too let down by the sacrifices the characters feel they have to make in a setting where neither of them can have everything they desire, but where a little more compromise might have been possible without giving up on the romantic happy ever after.
Lady Genevieve is the last of the Windham sisters to remain unmarried and has mostly resigned herself to being a maiden aunt – a role which her family seems keen to keep her in, shuttling her around their various houses to help with their children and seasonal baking. What she really wants to do, though, is escape to France and devote herself to art – a pastime her family seems determined to belittle in spite of her talent for drawing and painting. Elijah Harrison, meanwhile, is the heir to a marquessate who fell out with his family ten years earlier and has been making a name for himself as a portrait artist ever since.
When Elijah turns up in the middle of a torrential rain storm at the house where Lady Jenny is staying, they recognise each other, but neither wants to be the first to admit it. Elijah, earlier in his career, posed for art students and Jenny, disguised as a young man of course, had been one of those students. Having got around this slight difficulty, they find themselves getting on rather well, and Jenny offers to help Elijah in his quest to produce a portrait of her friends’ children which will impress the Royal Academy. Her one stipulation is that he helps her in return by critiquing her own work.
I really enjoy seeing the friendship grow between the pair of them as they produced a series of portraits of each other and various friends and members of Jenny’s family, and I like that Elijah is supportive when Jenny reveals her dreams to him. The snatches we see of Elijah’s family are charming, as is Jenny’s encouragement that he seek reconciliation with them even before he’s heard the Royal Academy’s decision on his application to become a member. There are some lovely festive touches in here, like Stir Up Sunday, sprigs of mistletoe everywhere, and the lengths some people go to in order to find the perfect present for their spouse.
In fact, it was all going so well until… (highlight for spoiler:) Jenny finally wins her family’s support for her trip to France, and they plan an increasingly elaborate tour of Europe for her. Then she gives the whole thing up in order to marry Elijah, because he might not wait for her if she goes abroad for any protracted length of time.
The author really lost my trust at that point, and I don’t see any way she’d be able to win it back, which is a shame because if the ending of this book had been different, then I might have gone back to read others in the series. Of course, people who are all about the conventional happy ever after would probably like the way the ending pans out just fine.
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.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: