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 *affiliate
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.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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

  1. 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!

  2. Nicole

    I really enjoyed this one too – I had always meant to pick up Ward’s paranormal series, but never managed to. This one was actually an odd place for me to start because it’s not my usual genre, but I enjoyed it a lot!

  3. Lindy

    This sounds like a great story. I love that it has several clear points of view, and secrets to be revealed. I’m glad you enjoyed this one, because I need to read and review it too 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. Mary Kirkland

    I’ve read quite a few of her books and this one seems to be getting a lot of really good reviews. I’ll have to put this one in my wish list to read too. Soo many books, so little time. lol

  6. Debbie Haupt

    OOH Great review Kim, I’ve heard mixed about this one. IDK if it’s because it’s contemporary and peeps are used to this out of the FAB Ms. Ward or what. But your points are well made and it’s now in my cart to purchase.

  7. Cyn

    I haven’t read any J. R Ward but I’m super tempted to start with series! Loving the sounds of it and I’ve recently been binge watching Dallas (old and new), so I’m definitely in the mood for some epic saga, haha. Great review, Kim!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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!

  12. Melissa (Books and Things)

    Never much was a Dynasty and Dallas fan, but what I don’t like on tv, I often do in books. 🙂 I do like her writing and I’m relieved that the bad names don’t show in this series. LOL I might have to try this one out.

  13. Sophia Rose

    I haven’t read a book like this one so I’m curious to see if I like it. Never was a soap fan- day or night time TV, but your review has me willing to give it a go.

  14. 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.

  15. Yousra

    Great review! I’m not sure if I want to give it a go though, I’ll have to see! 🙂

  16. 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.

    • 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.

  17. Heidi

    I am not sold on this one. I know plenty of people are enjoying it, but I am not the biggest fan of soap opera drama, so I think I am going to pass on this one. Thanks for the helpful review.

  18. 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!

  19. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I’ve been on the fence about reading this one, but I’m pretty sure I’ll love it more than I liked other Ward books. I really enjoy this sort of thing and I’m glad romance isn’t the primary focus.

    • 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.

  20. Bookworm Brandee

    I’ve been eager to see what you thought of this. I was definitely curious about how Ward would do a contemporary and it sends like she did pretty well. I’ll keep this one on my tbr for when i *finally* finish her PNRs. 🙂

  21. ailyn

    a lot of drinking and slurring I suppose. Not sure if that much drama is good for me

  22. Aubrey Wynne

    This looks yummy. I enjoy multiple POV’s. I’m nose and like to know what other people are thinking, in real life and my books.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. Tanya

    Actually just started this one and can feel myself getting wrapped up in the characters already. I hope Chantel gets cut out of here quickly! LOL

  26. Celine

    I’m a huge fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, so I’m glad to hear this new series is a winner too!

  27. 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!

  28. kindlemom1

    I just read this and really liked it as well. I think my review goes up for it tomorrow. It was my first Ward book and now I want to read more!
    So glad you liked this one Kim!

  29. Lover Of Romance

    Oh whoot!! Yat…looks like this is a good one. I am pretty excited to read this, just because it’s J.R. Ward, and I am so curious to see how she handles the change in genre. And I love the southern setting so I am definitely going to read it as soon as it gets released. Great Review.

  30. 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.