THE BOURBON KINGS: It’s Not all Mint Juleps & Cotillions in New JR Ward Series



THE BOURBON KINGS coverBook One in Series
by J.R. Ward
Penguin Random House/NAL| Jul 28, 2015 | 432 Pages

Also Available in Audio: Read by Alexander Cendese | Audiobook Download or CDs | Published by Penguin Audio | Jul 28, 2015 | 766 Minutes

ARC provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.


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.


My Take Oblong


As I read through this novel the theme song from the old TV series, DALLAS kept going through my head.  But that was only because I couldn’t remember the theme of DYNASTY, another 1980s prime time soap opera. The book offers a blend of the earthiness of the American South and the Haute Ton of Dynasty.  There’s even a character who reminds me of the heavily calmed wife on Dynasty.

But, this is here and now, and bourbon, not oil or whatever commodity was being bartered in DYNASTY.

There’s an enormous cadre of servants in this story including an African American woman who raised the children of the booze magnate and who reminded me of the child’s nurse in THE HELP as played in the film by Cecily Tyson.  I liked the character and thought she provides an example of moral decency that seems to be missing from the monied environment into which Lane and his siblings were born.

This is a new series and probably a good half of this 432 volume is setting up the series with plenty of room for expansion.   There are several characters we never meet.  There are also some I wish I never met. Nasty!

With JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, there was always a lot of name dropping in an “OOh, my characters are cool because they drink Grey Goose and wear Rolex watches!” Way.  In this one the characters with the prestigious brands names are the too much time and money people who think nothing of ruining a pair of 1,000 shoes.  Some of the characters remind me of the characters in the BDB.

There are a lot, A LOT, of surprises I didn’t see coming in this story.  And, while the set-up gives it a slow start, once stuff starts happening it rolls over you fast and furious, hot and sexy.  Even the chapters have cliff hangers for which, thank you JR, I only had to turn the page for resolution.   But, I have to say, I am uncertain where this one is going to go, what path it will take.  Will the lovers from this one stay solid? Will the money situation be the most important thing, will the biological mother get weaned from her drug cocktail and become human again and will her son, Edward, get sober and get with the program.

Since the series is just starting, it is too early to say what each character is really about; whether they are worthy or shallow. But, I can’t wait to find out!

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