I don't usually read authors I've never heard of before because I don't like spending my money on an unknown quantity. Netgalley had made it much easier for me to try someone new because I'm able to get free copies of the books from the publishers. Obviously, they aren't always formatted in a way that is pleasing to the eye and in some instances it is so bad that I can't continue reading it. The reason I mention all of this is that I never would have picked up A Wicked Way to Win an Earl if I came across it in my local CVS or on Amazon. Not only is she a new-to-me author, but she is a new author (as in this is her debut novel). That is nothing against new authors; I hope to be one someday, but I need to watch my money. I've been out of work since June and I just don't have the money to buy books by untested authors. This is one instance that not buying the book would be a shame.
Delia Somerset and her sister are invited to attend a house party given by the Earl of Carlysle. Despite her reservations, she decides to go, hoping it would raise her sister's spirits. What she doesn't expect is to enter into a game of flirtation with the Earl himself.
Alec Sutherland, Earl of Carlysle, meets Delia at the most inopportune time and as soon as he finds out who she is, he is determined to stop her from marrying his younger brother because of a scandal involving both of their families. Unfortunately, his plan to ruin her leads to genuine feelings and he doesn't know what to do about that.
I enjoyed this book, although it took me much longer than it should have to finish it. The reason: Alec was a bit of an ass and I couldn't stand him for a big chunk of the book. He walks the fine line between Alpha and Alphole. For about 60% of the book, he convinces himself that the reason he does not want Delia to marry his brother was because of the scandal and that the best way to do that was to ruin Delia's reputation. It is at roughly the 60% mark that he realizes that he doesn't want to hurt her in that way. He still hasn't quite admitted to himself his own feelings, but he decides to stop what he's doing.
Other than my issue with Alec's severe alpha tendencies, I thought this book was rather well written. Ms. Bradley has the type of voice that pulls the reader in and doesn't let them go until the very last sentence. This is a hard thing to pull off and I applaud her ability to do so.
I also really liked Delia. She has the perfect amount of sassy sarcasm to please this former New Yorker, who considers herself quite fluent in that language. She is also an extremely independent person and knows what she wants, doing whatever it takes to get it. Just how far she goes was a bit surprising, considering the time when this book takes place (1811--so the very early Regency Period). She definitely does some things that wouldn't have been wise for a woman of her station at that time period to do, but you're able to overlook that because you know that her Happily Ever After would happen simply because of her actions.
This is the first book in a new Regency series involving the Somersets and the Sutherlands and it came out early last month. The next book, involving Lily and Robyn (Delia's sister and Alec's brother) is set to be released in August and I will be reading it whether I get an ARC through Netgalley or not.