England, 1811. Delia Somerset despises the privileged ton, but her young sister, Lily, is desperate to escape their family’s scandalous past and join high society. Unwilling to upset her sister, Delia reluctantly agrees to attend a party at the Sutherland estate—and avoid the gossip at all costs.
Alec Sutherland is known as a hot-headed scoundrel, but nothing gets a rise out of him as much as the news that his brother desires Delia’s hand in marriage. She is, after all, the daughter of the London belle who soiled their family name. He’s determined to ruin her reputation as well, in the most delicious way possible. It’s only a matter of time before he can woo her with his irresistible advances.
As Delia devilishly plays along in Alec’s game, determined to prove the joke is on him, they inch ever closer to repeating history. And in this game of seductive glances, scandalous whispers, and old debts, the outcome might be much more than either of them anticipated… (Goodreads)
Having read a few Crime and Thriller books, I felt like I needed a change. So while perusing my TBR shelves, I noticed this book was sitting there. Historical Romances are great palate cleansers for me, so I decided to read this. Little did I know that this book would soon become so engrossing.
When reading this type of book, it can be difficult for authors to write a feisty heroine while keeping in with the time period set. Luckily, Bradley doesn’t have this issue for the characters, particularly the female ones would fit right at home in Regency England. The author has clearly carried out her research, at least to my knowledge of the time period.
Like most books of this genre, it is centred around Delia and her younger sister being introduced to Society. This is through their friendship with the sisters of the Current Earl of Sutherland. From the premise, I had thought that Delia was only attending in order to aid her sister in trying to find a husband. This was proved false as Delia is trying to help her sister get over the grief of losing their parents.
It was refreshing to read that the main purpose of their visit wasn’t to find husbands and added an interesting layer to the book. True, this is a romance and this book has oodles of it, but it is an attraction that builds over the course of the book. The couple that this book centers on; Delia and Alec, have a particularly memorable first meeting. From here we see, not so much of a battle of wills, but two people who have preconception of the other. In this aspect, I was reminded of Pride and Prejudice (if Jane Austen chose to go behind the bedroom door).
Alec is the epitome of the entitled rouge, who is torn between family, respectability and what he wants. He lives up to the idea of the Earl who only marries someone who will cement their position in society. At first he is happy with his choice in wife, but the arrival of Delia and her sister upsets his world. From the outset, I could see through Alec’s objections of his brother’s interest in Delia. It all screamed of him protesting a bit too much. I didn’t buy that the scandal her mother had caused was even a factor. Watching as he become more and more infatuated with her was just a joy to read.
As for Delia, I was rooting for her from the get go. It was clear that her mother being cut off from society had tainted her view of the ton and also her opinion of Alec. Yes, her first meeting with him does nothing to disprove her opinion. Delia is just comes across as a strong woman for her time. She is different from her peers. This is not just due to the fact that she is from the country nor that she is not part of the ton, but also because of the fact that she isn’t at this ball to find a husband. She is more concerned for her sister’s well-being. It is clear that she is also going through a lot, but has pushed her needs down for her sister sake.
While following Alec and Delia, I couldn’t help but become mildly interested in the supporting characters. The one who jumped out from the page was Alec’s younger brother Robyn. Yes, he isn’t in the book a great deal, but the scenes he is in had me wanting to know more about him and his journey. It is clear that Robyn and Alec have their issues and that these stem from their father. It isn’t resolved by the end of the book, the fact that his book is next should mean that we can see this begin to mend.
The other supporting character who really jumped out was Alec’s sister, Eleanor. She seems so intuitive of her siblings and I could see how she and her sister, Charlotte managed to manoeuvred Alec and Delia together. Whoever manages to capture Eleanor will have to be an exceptional gentleman.
This really is the fairy-tale romance that I love reading and I am so glad I have the second book on my TBR so I can continue with this fabulous cast of characters.
It is a romance and it is almost certain that Delia and Alec will end up together, but the journey is just so engaging. Watching these two characters bat off each other is a joy to read and when they succumb to their mutual attraction, you can’t help but feel that sense of joy.
For fans of a good historical/regency romance, you can’t go wrong with this. A Wicked Way to Win an Earl is a fabulous debut novel and Bradley is an author to watch. Now excuse me while go off and write up my review for A Season of Ruin (which I read straight after finishing this one.)
THE SUTHERLAND SCANDALS SERIES IN ORDER
1 A Wicked Way to Win An Earl
2 A Season of Ruin