Series: The Bourbon Kings,
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on July 28th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
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 iron fisted 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.
J.R. Ward returns to fans with a brand new series. This time instead of vampire warriors, Ward has decided to write a contemporary romance set in the upper echelons of Kentucky society. When I first learn Ward would be writing a series set in the South around a family of heirs to a bourbon dynasty, I was ecstatic. Not that I don’t love my Black Dagger Brotherhood vamps, but there’s nothing I love more than mystery and intrigue set in the deep south. This first foray is based on the middle son Lane Baldwine. After having been away from home for two years, Tulane receives a phone call that forces him to return home. Once there he runs into his ex-girlfriend Lizzie, who works for his family, the wife he abandoned, and his crazy family.
In this novel we don’t just read about Lane and Lizzie’s love affair, but a host of family tragedy. Each member of the Bradford family gets a POV, not just Lane and Lizzie, so readers are privy to the other characters’ state of mind. The only two members of the family without a POV are Lane’s parents and his wife. What I loved most about this story is arguably the same thing that might turn others off – the soap opera quality of the writing and plot. The events that happen in The Bourbon Kings seem to come straight out of Dallas (the 80’s version), with a little bit of E!’s The Royals thrown in for good fun. As someone who grew up on soaps, I loved this style of writing and heightened drama.
The characters in the book were really well-developed thanks to the multiple perspective used, and I found each of them intriguing enough to want to read more about them. I also loved how mystery was woven into the story. This wasn’t just some love story, but intrigue, back-stabbing, and crazy shenanigans were all over the novel. To top everything off, the setting based in Kentucky allowed Ward to mix southern gentility with the characters’ underhanded behavior. Having been raised in the North, with large amounts of family down south, I can attest to the fact that while northerners can curse with the best of them, there’s nothing worse than receiving a calm, sing-song, Southern tongue lashing. All in all, this novel was nothing but great fun!
Can I admit that I liked Lane’s older brother Edward more than Lane? Or that I found Lane’s sister Gin and best bud Samuel T. more interesting that Lizzie? Those three characters were the most complex in the novel, and I found myself more invested in their problems than the main couple. Partly, because I found Lane to be a stereotypical playboy, until events later on developed him into a more complex character. As for Lizzie, I seemed to like her more away from Lane than with him. Her behavior towards him for most of the book seemed better fitting in a love at first sight romance, than in one where the couple knew each other for years and had a prior relationship.
Do I Recommend?
Whether or not I would recommend this book depends on the person asking. If you’re someone who grew up on nighttime soaps, and loved them, then I think you’d get a kick out of The Bourbon Kings. However, if soaps aren’t your cup of tea, then you better not bother, because this novel is soap opera at its finest. I also wouldn’t recommend this novel if you’re looking for hot, steamy sexy times like you might find in Ward’s other novels, because the sex scenes in The Bourbon Kings are straight out a 1950’s sitcom. Or maybe a YA novel. Lots of kissing and touching, and then fading into blackness. *le sigh*