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The Bourbon Kings Hardcover – July 28, 2015
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An Amazon Best Book of August 2015: A modern-day Southern family that’s far too rich for its own good, every year the Baldwines cement their titanic social status with a fancy Derby brunch at their estate for 700 of their closest friends. Just before this year’s event, the return of prodigal son Lane from self-inflicted exile sets off a chain of events that yanks family skeletons out of the closet and thrusts each family member out of his or her familiar orbit, spinning them toward disaster.
A Yankee transplanted to the south, J. R. Ward describes wealthy southerners and their eccentric habits with the clear-eyed affection that only an outsider brings, evoking memories of John Berendt’s spot-on details in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. With The Bourbon Kings, Ward has stepped out of her own orbit of penning bestselling paranormal romances, and readers will be glad they’ve taken this journey with her. Secret babies, shocking affairs, fiery racehorses, battling bourbon empires, a despicable family patriarch, and an unfortunately-timed suicide (or is it murder?) are just a few of the wild cards Ward throws into the mix, delivering mayhem among the moneyed crowd in this tremendously fun read. – Adrian Liang
Praise for The Bourbon Kings
“Get ready for summer’s most sinful indulgence. The drama never stops in this tale of family secrets, lost love found, rivalries, delightfully nasty villains, and deliciously appealing heroes. The clothes, the whiskey, and the gorgeous Kentucky backdrop will sweep you away. The privileged and the downtrodden never had it so good. Put on your derby hat and join in the fun.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Wiggs
“Breathless fun! J. R. Ward moves her trademark dark and sexy from the world of warrior vampires to the halls of the Kentucky elite, where the family members’ claws are just as sharp and the consequences just as deadly. I couldn’t stop turning the pages!”—New York Times Bestselling Author Lisa Gardner
“I want my Bourbon in bed! J. R. Ward delivers a sweeping saga where family roots run deep and passion sizzles hotter than a Kentucky summer. Potent and heady, one taste just isn’t enough.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Gena Showalter
“The drama and dark secrets behind the Bradford family’s empire propel this irresistible story of high-society scandal . . . a read that’s rich, smooth, and satisfying as a glass of Kentucky bourbon.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Elizabeth Phillips
“With more devious characters than Dynasty, The Bourbon Kings is juicy soap opera at its finest.”—The Philadelphia Enquirer
“Soapy elements abound in this Dynastyesque tale, from lavish wealth to feuds, dirty secrets, and forbidden love…Ward is a master of pacing and world building, and readers will love that the cliff-hanger ending guarantees at least a second helping of the Bradfords.”—Booklist (starred review)
Praise for J.R. Ward’s Novels of the Black Dagger Brotherhood
“J. R. Ward’s unique band of brothers is to die for. I love this series!” —New York Times Bestselling Author Suzanne Brockmann
“Utterly absorbing and deliciously erotic!” —New York Times bestselling author Angela Knight
“Monumental. I loved it..”—Under the Covers
“J. R. Ward’s urban fantasy romance series is so popular, I don’t think there’s a reader today who hasn’t at least heard of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.”—USA Today
“J. R. Ward has created a world that I love.”—Night Owl Reviews
“A powerful rush.”—Publishers Weekly
“Tautly written, wickedly sexy, and just plain fun.”—New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner
“Hold on tight for an intriguing, adrenaline-pumping ride.”—Booklist
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Top Customer Reviews
I was hooked for the first 50 pages of The Bourbon Kings. Ward. Even with her over the top prose and too many descriptions to count sometimes, JR is an excellent storyteller. There’s no denying yet. I’ll give her that credit. She does draw you in from the start, but by page 200, which is almost half way though (the book clocks in at 423 pages), I had to stop reading and give this the dread DNF label. The reason? The characters are horrible and cartoonish. Other then the heroine, Lizzie, there’s not one character I can sympathize with. If Tulane, the hero, had at least one redeeming quality, I could have given this story the benefit of the doubt, and let my disgust with the rest of the characters go. But I couldn’t. The men here are all man whores who come across as misogynistic (even Lane), and the women second rate power hungry trollops, with the exception of Lizzie. Also, the amount of POVs, like the recent BDB books are far too many. I think I counted 6 different ones.
If Ward had decided to make this Lizzie’s story instead of Lane, and made Lane the villain, who wants Lizzie back, while she’s romanced by the “good guy” hero, then I would have been totally on board with this book. Tulane is a spoiled man child, even though he’s well into his 30’s. Two years prior to the events of this book, he has an affair with Lizzie around the time he may or may not have been with his girlfriend Chantal at the time. She ends up pregnant, and Lane marries her. Lizzie rejects him, and he runs away to NYC, sitting on his friend’s couch and doing nothing productive with his life. When he finds out the woman he thinks of his mother (not his biological mother, but his housekeeper. His mother was never a real mother to him and his 2 brothers and sisters, including his EVIL father) has taken ill, he returns home to Kentucky to check in on her. For some reason he thinks Lizzie will forgive him, even though his wife is living at Easterly where he grew up, acting like the queen of the castle. Lane’s family is one big WTF soap opera mash up ala the 1980’s, such as Dyntasy, Dallas and Falcon Crest. Think dysfunctional to the max! Lane’s father would end up beating Edward, the older brother, who was kidnapped and held for ransom in South America, where he was tortured and left for death. But he survived and has returned home to work with horses (Darling Daddy didn’t pay the ransom, and may have had a ulterior motive why). There’s Max, who just appears in flashbacks. Then there is Gin, the youngest, who cheats with married men, had a love child in her teens, she tossed away to some boarding school, while she pines for Lane’s lawyer friend Samuel T, who is some playboy jerk. Gin and Samuel T dirty flirt, as in he loves to touch Gin and get her all hot and bothered, but won’t finish the job.
Everyone acts like spoiled rich jerks even though they’re way too old to act like it. There is one annoying trope (everything and the kitchen sink syndrome) after another that’s found in romances, but The Bourbon Kings isn’t technically a romance. It has romantic elements because of Lane chasing after Lizzie, but it reads more like general fiction. Some may say this is the start of a sweeping family epic series. The sweeping epic part of it just doesn’t deliver the goods. it’s more of a caricature, a substitute of what a sweeping family epic should be.
Ever read a book where you can’t stop rolling your eyes and toss your hands in the air because you’re so frustrated by what you’re reading? The Bourbon Kings is a perfect example of that.
Fans of Ward may go either way with this book, but at least there’s not a million and one product name drops and no mention of someone being a “fidiot”, even though everyone acts like it.
To me the book was too convoluted, too lengthy and even - surprisingly so - tedious at times. And I said surprisingly because there was a lot going on, abortions, cheating, alcoholism, storms, corporate crises, arrests, murders, etc etc and still I found myself skipping pages at some points.
I understand that as the 1st book of a series it has to set up the characters, the mood and the back-story for the future... but it was too much and too little at the same time, a lot of brand naming, wearisome decor deceptions and a certain amount of vapid commentary that achieved to portrait all the superficial dimension of the story but any of the substantial things that for me make a ROMANCE novel: emotions and passion. There was no actual focus (making the events, ultimately irrelevant) nor any strong resolution for the main couple at the end.
In conclusion, if you haven't been all that happy with The Ward's writing lately (aka The Shadows debacle), maybe you'll do yourself a favor by not reading this book, at least you'll spare yourself the frustration.
I did not like this book. To many character introductions, not enough character development. Lane is a spoiled man/child. Lizzie started out as a good female lead, but quickly disappointed me as she fell back into Lane's "I'm a poor rich boy that no one understands". Edward is the eldest brother who was kidnapped and tortured in South America before being rescued. Gin is the sister who plays with married men and has a teenage daughter out of wedlock. Max is another brother, but we really do not hear much about him in this book. Both Lane and Gin are so annoying you want to smack the crap out of them. You do want to know more about Edward, but in my humble opinion not enough to buy another book.
I know that I will not like every book I buy, but this one was a huge disappointment.