Thursday, July 23, 2015

Early Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward


The Bourbon Kings
(The Bourbon Kings #1)
J.R. Ward
Release: July 28, 2015
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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.
You know that feeling when you finish a Netflix binge and then have to wait for the next season to be released? (I'm looking at you, The Blacklist.) That's exactly how I felt at the end of The Bourbon Kings. (Seriously, can I have the next book now?) It's a binge-worthy soap opera with fascinating characters that kept me turning pages long after my bedtime.

While there are no paranormal elements in the story, The Bourbon Kings does have some things in common with Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books, which I know many of our readers love. First of all, the narrative is still from multiple points of view. The three Bradford siblings, Lane, Edward and Gin; Samuel T. Lodge, their lawyer; Lizzie King, the horticulturalist; and Sutton Smythe, head of the rival bourbon company, each contribute to the complex plot. Ward didn't give the villains, in this case an abusive father and scheming ex-wife, a say, which I appreciate. Those parts in BDB always have me screaming, "No, get back to the hero!"

These characters also have years of history together, as well as history in the house, the town and the business. Ward expertly weaves in flashbacks of their childhood with current events to establish the backstory. It's that complicated history that makes these characters so interesting. They each have their share of emotional scars. Edward actually reminds me of Tohr from BDB in the way he checks out after a traumatic event.

However, what The Bourbon Kings actually most reminds me of is Tiffany Reisz's Original Sinners series. Not in terms of the sex - there's plenty of it, but this is not a BDSM story. (Though there are hints that there may be some in the future.) But almost all of the romances in The Bourbon Kings are taboo in some way, like the billionaire dating the help. What keeps me coming back to that series is that I love relationships between the characters. They overcome so much adversity because at the end of the day, they're family. And I love the way their skeletons come out of the closet a little bit more in each book.

I enjoyed Lane and Lizzie's romance, which is the one that gets wrapped up in this first book. I'm often a fan of reunited lovers stories because they eliminate the insta-love issue. But I'm really excited to see how some of the other potential couples come together. I want more of the twisty plot of financial and legal issues. And I can't wait to meet Max, the missing Bradford brother. Did I mention that I'm ready for the next book now?

Recommended for fans of: J.R. Ward, The Original Sinners series, prime time soaps like Dallas and Desperate Housewives

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley

4 1/2  stars

1 comment:

  1. I am so excited for this book!! I like that she is doing something different from her other books. Great review.


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