Published by Penguin Publishing Group on July 28th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Buy on Amazon, B&N
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege—and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal.... For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.From the Hardcover edition.
I originally got my hands on The Bourbon Kings from a friend who managed to get an eARC from NetGalley. I read 30% while waiting for her to do a few errands and had to purchase it once it came out in ebook. I can’t leave any book half-read, ever. I’m a little sad to say that the little over a month wait for the book might have impacted my review a bit. If you plan on reading The Bourbon Kings you really should be ready for a complete read through without breaks or the magic will be lost. The book requires the reader to be in the moment – not rushing to catch up emotionally after a prolonged delay.
The Bourbon Kings swerves away from J.R. Ward’s paranormal pursuits and slips into the contemporary world of old money and upper class struggles. We enter with Lizzie King, the estate gardener, and her love affair with the Bradford heir Tulane (Lane). Quickly things begin to spiral out of control as each chess piece is introduced and their secrets revealed. The novel reads a bit like a soap opera with the characters all having a history that the reader learns about as they move through the plot. The stakes for each Bradford rises until the climax approximately 40% of the way through when things really start to get interesting. Even daddy dearest has some dark secrets.
If I went down the rabbit hole of wanting some kind of justice against that sire of ours, I’d be flat- out insane. And the last time I heard, Mother hasn’t been out of her bed except to take a bath in three years.
I think that perhaps my biggest regret for this book is the rapidly changing character view. I found myself getting really caught up in Ward’s clever mini-plot between Edward and Sutton and then thrust into the middle of Lizzie and Tulane’s romance. Once I’m comfortable in Lizzie’s shoes I suddenly find myself in Gin’s shoes. I personally found it hard to emotionally keep in key with the characters when I was constantly being dropped into different character’s bodies to deal with their respective problems. I also found it hard to keep my mind on the overarching Bradford problems that really keep the book galloping along. Nevertheless, once I returned to the plot upon completion I found my multi-character experience was actually beneficial in developing a soap opera type novel.
I can’t wait to read book two.
“Really?” she whispered. “Really.”
He came over and turned her toward him. “Lizzie, it’s done. That whole thing with her is done. And before you say it, it’s not just for you. I should have put a bullet into that marriage long ago. My mistake.”
So, why did I like this book in the end? I feel Ward is well versed in bourbon creation, southern hospitality and there was no black leather to be seen! I did however, have problems with the way that women were treated by Lane and Edward..and yet, the mistreatment of women by prominent male characters actually made the men less story-book and more flawed. The Bourbon Kings has so much going on, the least of which is an epic love story between Lane and Lizzie which is a fantastic change from Ward’s Brotherhood Series. I loved the fact that there’s a little bit of something for everyone in this book and there’s never a moment to catch your breath.
This novel will appeal to those who love contemporary tales about wealth, love and family dysfunction. The Bourbon Kings is a family saga filled with lies, deceit, pain and drama that spans lifetimes. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a complicated story that constantly keeps your guessing.