The Bourbon Kings
by J.R. Ward
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.
MY REVIEW (I’m warning you now… it’s a long one!)
Well, I’m fairly certain this will be the longest review I’ve ever written. There is a great deal going on in this story and countless characters that it’s almost impossible not to write a lengthy review. First off, forget what you think you know about JR Ward and her writing method. This is something entirely different. It’s reads like a soap opera or a modern day Dynasty or Dallas on steroids. It has everything you need and some things you didn’t even know you needed. It’s entertaining, gripping, and jam packed with so much upheaval that you’ll fight to set it down, even to pee… lol!
Let’s talk about our main characters. First up, Jonathan Tulane Baldwine “Lane.” He rushes home from his hideaway in New York to check on his “Momma.” Nope, not his Mother, his Momma… the lady who raised him and his siblings, Miss Aurora Toms. Upon arrival at Easterly (his families estate) he discovers so much more than Miss Aurora’s illness to contend with. Not to mention it’s Derby time and the estate is abuzz with servants, grounds crew, and the Head Horticulturist, the lovely Lizzie King. Lane seems to want to rekindle whatever is it he thinks he had with Lizzie two years ago, but Lizzie has other ideas. Through his endeavors at Easterly and it’s inhabitants, Lane hangs on tight for the emotional and deranged ride he’s about to receive.
Now, for my favorite, Lizzie King. I love this little whip with all my heart. She’s everything I expected she would be and more. I adore how independent she is and how determined she’s become in order to make her own life better. There’s nothing like someone ripping your heart to shreds to motivate you to be stronger and more confident. Lizzie is dreading Lane coming home. She may seem like she’s over him, but her heart tells a different story. Not only is she dealing with the prodigal son coming home, but she has to struggle with all the bullshit that comes with setting up for the Derby and waiting on the love of her life’s wife. Don’t ask! It’s more fucked up than you think!
The supporting character cast is enormous… I mean massive! I have 3 pages of notes for this review and half of them are based on the supporting characters. Starting with my favorite, Miss Aurora. This woman can fry up some bacon, polish the silver, and have you obeying her every command before sunrise. She’s consider by the Bradford children to be their “true” momma. I absolutely love her! My second favorite it Greta von Schlieber, Lizzie’s older other half out in the garden. This is a woman fiercely protective of Lizzie and she’s not afraid to speak her mind… sometimes in German, but hey it’s all good!
It must be said that Samuel T., Lane’s best friend and lawyer, at times seemed more intriguing than Lane. I wouldn’t mind my own romp in the back seat of his vintage hotrod! Another mancake I’d love to hug with my vagina is Edward Westfork Bradford Baldwine, the oldest son. He’s been through hell and back. I know he’s broken and bitter, but the woman who steals his heart will be one lucky hooker!
The supporting characters I completely and utterly hated and wish the worst type of demise upon them are as follows…
Chantal Blair Stowe Baldwine, Lane’s estranged wife. She’s nothing but a gold diggin’ whore who needs someone to set fire to her face and put it out with a fork!
Richard Pford IV, heir to the Pford Liquor and Spirits Distributors is lower than pond scum. This guy makes Charles Manson look good! He’s an uber mean SOB and I’ve devised a voodoo doll with his name on it!
William Baldwine is the lowest of the low. He’s a father for Godsakes, but looks at his children as problems, impediments and commodities. He’s an atrocious husband, a dishonest business man, and an overall asspipe!
The rest of the character cast was good and played intricate parts in the rounding and shaping of this story. Rosalinda, the family controller left me with a smile on my face. (*wink wink) I think she has a lot to say… we’ll find out! Now that butler Mr. Harris, well, I feel he might need a good ass kickin’ but I’ll bite my tongue for now and wait to see what side he’s actually on!
The Bourbon Kings is well written. It was effortless to read and flowed with efficiency and effectiveness. The dialogue flows and feels incredibly natural. The pacing wasn’t quick, nor was it sluggish.. it was just right. The storyline itself was so persuasive that I struggled to put it down till I finished it! The tension leading up to that conclusion was daunting and exhilarating at the same time. It’s 400 (Kindle version) pages long and for this reader… a stunning success!
ARC provided by publisher for an honest review
WHERE TO STALK J.R. WARD
J.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times and USAToday Best Selling author of erotic paranormal romance and she also writes contempary romance as Jessica Bird. She lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. After graduating from law school, she began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. Writing has always been her passion and her idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot. Visit the JRWard Facebook page for more on the Brotherhood or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. J.R. Ward reads all mail, but due to the volume she is not always able to respond-although she appreciates all the kindness and support!