by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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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.
The Bourbon Kings by J.R Ward is the first novel in a new contemporary series by the same name. Ward takes us into the lives of one of the south’s most privileged families. The Bradford family may be the king of bourbon but behind the glamour and facade lie secrets, sadness, and hatred. All carefully held in check and never spoken of but things are about to change. Captivating, filled with drama and broken characters I found myself swept up in their lives.
Coffee Dates with the Bourbon Kings
- First date: Our date starts out slow as we slowly get to know Lane and Lizzie. Ward brought the grounds and Easterly estate to life. Our characters are broken, and flashbacks into childhood have me shivering. At this point, I am wondering about a romance since Lane appears to be married. The tale has multiple POV’s and I am pleased with this discovery. Breaks between character POV’s are easy to distinguish and necessary to allow us to connect and understand.
- Second date: They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and I am thinking the Bradford family can keep their manicured lawns and maids. If you liked the hit television shows Dallas or Dynasty, you will quickly become caught up in the drama and secrets of this family. The characters were interesting and Ward did an excellent job of letting us inside their heads. Gin has serious Daddy issues, and I went back and forth between wanting to smack her and hugging her. Edward the oldest son just tugged at my heartstrings and I enjoyed every moment with him. I am very curious about the love interests there..one old, one new. Lane finds himself having to deal with everything and you can feel him wanting to take flight, but he is determined not to lose Lizzie and a part of him wants to protect the others. Drama, twists and turns had me completely caught up in their soap opera lives. Secondary characters added charm, mystery and depth.
- Third date: I loved the different POV’s as it helped me understand all the players. Ward really worked on setting the foundation and fleshing out the history of this family, but she also gave us a romance, mystery and suspense. The romance is not center stage making this feel more like woman’s fiction or chick-lit. Old fears, miscommunication and the odds stacked against them at every turn did not make this an easy second chance romance. Their feelings felt genuine particularly Lizzie’s who struggled to believe. While the story is far from over, we do get closure on the romance, which isn’t to say our next date couldn’t blow that all to hell, we at least for now, we can end the date satisfied and hungry for more.
“Sutton, as always, a pleasure.” He glanced at his sire. “Father, fuck you.”
“After much introspection, she had come to acknowledge a fundamental truth about herself: She couldn’t survive in any other world….”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Besides, she’s black— ”
Lane grabbed Chantal’s arm and yanked her up close. “Don’t you ever talk about her with that kind of attitude. I’ve never hit a woman before, but I guarantee I will beat the shit out of you if you disrespect her.”
The Bourbon Kings with its vivid southern setting and characters reminded me of sagas like Thornbirds, Dynasty and Dallas. I look forward to spending more time with Lane, Edward, Gin and Max.