The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

July 27th, 2015 Kimberly Review 74 Comments

27th Jul
The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
The Bourbon Kings
by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Heat Level:One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

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 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.

About J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. She lives in the South her family.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat...Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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74 Responses to “The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward”

  1. Melliane

    I was really curious about this one and my friend told me that it was a difficult one for her, too much drama, so I don’t know anymore. But I’l glad to see you had a great time.

    Melliane recently posted: Justified by Ali Parker
  2. Grace

    This sounds great. I really liked her BDB series (even though I kind of dropped it at some point) so I am excited for a new series. I love the idea it centers around a southern privileged family and is kind of soapy. Great review!

    Grace recently posted: Review ~ Saint Anything
  3. Nick

    Sounds like an interesting family! But I’m not sure I can handle the multiple POVs. I’m sadly not a fan as you know, but I’ll keep my eyes out for your review for the next book when you read it before I can make that decision.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I think you would be fine with this Nick. First they are clearly broken up..distinct voices, no guessing whose head am I it just really works for this kind of family saga.

  4. Jenny

    I have to admit to being a little bummed the romance isn’t a central focus of this book because I’ve loved her romances in the past, but it sounds like a great read overall Kim! I’m hoping her POV switches don’t get quite as out of hand as they have in the past couple BDB books though because I can’t keep up 😉

    • kimbacaffeinate

      No, this is more like woman’s fiction and the romance is side dish, that is not to say that some of the other romances that popped up won’t take more of a central stage.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was my first by her, and I quite enjoyed this little saga, she did a nice job of setting things up and creating angst and suspense. I am eager to see how it all plays out.

  5. Ramona

    You know, a girl can always make room for a saga in her reading schedule, that’s what I say 🙂 I’ve been hearing really good things about this one, and I have to say that the southern setting and this particular cast of characters add up to a lot of potential. Great review!

    Ramona recently posted: Zen Monday: Know Your Herbal Teas
  6. Cindy

    I think this series may be for me because I loved Dallas but Dynasty not as much:) Thanks for sharing that great review. I now have more books for my pile. Have a great week.

    Cindy recently posted: Sunday Post
    • kimbacaffeinate

      I only watched a few episodes of them. but love this time of family saga..more so in books and wow this family is intense.

  7. Kristin

    I think I’m going to have to send you my first BDB book, or maybe just the BDB Guidebook I bought b/c I was such a nutso fan before she drug the series a bit too long.

    I’m so tickled you liked this and EVEN MORE ecstatic you added the quotes, especially the ones you did!!!!! I saw a particular review of this book that inspired a whole discussion post I’m writing – I was that annoyed.

    Your review ROCKS and captures the world perfectly!!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Bwahaha..I am interesting in this discussion/review. I really enjoyed it from the suspense angle to the crazy secrets..and Edward…I need more. I have yet to read BDB in part because of those later books that made me nervous.

  8. Katherine

    I love the sound of all the family drama and secrets behind the manicured lawns. I’m a little concerned about the Lane looking like he’s married but since you liked it I’m guessing it worked out one way or another. My TBR pile is crying now!

  9. Sarah

    I am glad to hear JR Ward has started a new series. I confess I enjoy her writing, but I got bored of her brotherhood series after the 4th or 5th book. I am enjoying contemporary romance these days so I will definitely be adding this to the TBR list. I enjoy family sagas 🙂

  10. Christy

    I’ve been so on the fence about reading this. My mouse hovered over the widget in the email for quite awhile while I debated it with myself. lol. It sounds scandalous, though! So … maybe. I probably will, but I really want to read her BBD series.

    Christy recently posted: Just Thinking … How I Read A Series
  11. Mary

    I actually liked that this wasn’t super romance-focused. Wasn’t thrilled with all the characters, especially since that’s one of the reasons I stopped reading BDB (Too many characters, not enough focus on the MCs) but I enjoyed it!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thankfully the characters are all family, and a few not overwhelming. I had no trouble keeping track, and can still recall all of them.

  12. Kathy

    I have been waiting for what seems like forever on this book, and it finally hit my Kindle this morning. I won’t get to read it for a couple of weeks or so (I know, crazy after waiting so long), but I’m happy to see that you loved it. It makes me think that I will, too.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am glad and look forward to your thoughts on it. Hey and don’t feel bad I have pre-orders from the winter that I still haven’t cracked open yet.

  13. Tika

    I haven’t read anything by J.R Ward yet, and when a friend put me on to Bourbon Kings via twitter, I knew this was the novel I wanted to start with. I haven’t read a novel set in the south in such a long time, and I’m craving that atmosphere! Not to mention I keep hearing J.R Ward is that bish, so I’m dying to see if she lives up to all this hype!