Neither Jayne nor Richard had a happy childhood. Both were ignored by their parents, Jayne because she was the only surviving child and was not a son, and Richard because he was the middle child.
Jayne's father hated his daughter and she learned at an early age to avoid him as much as possible. Her mother had so many miscarriages that she became an invalid and only survived long enough to ensure that her husband died before her out of spite. After her parents' deaths Jayne went to live with her grandfather where it was discovered that not only did she have no social skills, she couldn't even read or write. So began her imprisonment (as Jayne saw it) to become a lady. Now Jayne's grandfather has decreed that she must be married by the end of the Season. Jayne still has that wild streak in her developed in early childhood from avoiding her father. This wild streak causes Jayne to not think about the consequences of her actions and gets her into all sorts of trouble.
With the deaths of both his father and elder brother (and the revelation that his younger brother prefers men) Richard has returned to England to take over the family estates and title. Richard too, has been ordered by his grandfather to be married by the end of the season.
Unfortunately, An Escapade and an Engagement was just an okay read for me, and that was because of the heroine Jayne. Jayne just annoyed me with her "I'll make it up to (insert injured party here)" attitude. Jayne had lots of revelations about how her behavior didn't affect just her but could have negative consequences on others (generally after Richard pointed them out), and would be remorseful convincing Richard, herself, and the reader that she wouldn't behave that way again. That is, until the next time she got angry for some trifling reason--which was often--and she would be right back to making thoughtless choices. I became so annoyed I just wanted to throw the book, and the only reason I didn't was because of Richard's character. I'm still not sure why he fell in love with Jayne, but I thoroughly believed that he found Jayne refreshing, unlike the other ladies he met, and that is due entirely to Ms. Burrows' writing.
Richard and Jayne both had miserable childhoods, and they could understand what the other went through whereas someone who hadn't experienced that wouldn't have but, Richard made the best of being shunted into the army, whereas Jayne was just surface polish - she had no substance underneath, at least not until the very end.
All in all An Escapade and an Engagement by Annie Burrows was just a decent read for me, and while I may not have liked Jayne's character throughout most of the book, by the end of it I believed that the little bit of growing she started to do would continue and she and Richard would have their HEA, and I can recommend the book as a quick summer read.
Reviewed by: Valarie Pelissero