Release Date: July 28, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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.
8 Things About The Bourbon Kings
- THE BOURBON KINGS is a dynastic Southern family drama set in Kentucky about the Bradford-Baldwines. This family is nothing short of royalty, filthy rich, stinking with old money from bourbon and horse racing. They also put a new spin on the term dysfunctional.
William Baldwine: current patriarch and asshole extraordinaire. I love his retors though, a very clever, but hateful man.
Edward: eldest son, kidnapping survivor, and very broken. He reminds me of Zsadist and also my favorite in the cast. His storyline is the most interesting to me at this point.
Tulane (Lane): the lead of the novel. Honorable, loyal, and heir apparent to the Bradford empire.
Maxwell: MIA in this novel except for the flashbacks. He sounds messed up too.
Gin: The Heiress. Promiscuous, and a stereotypical, entitled, brat, she's putting these social media kittens to shame with her antics. Not an antagonist, but she haven't shown any redeeming qualities yet.
- Lizzie King might be the leading lady here but I didn't warm up to her. She has a HUGE chip on her shoulder and I wish there's more to her than Pride. I love Miss Aurora though, the Bradford-Baldwine's "Momma"/Governess/Nanny, the person who really raised the siblings. She's the voice of reason here and has the most touching lines and scenes.
- THE BOURBON KINGS is very reminiscent of that defunct TV series, Dirty, Sexy Money in that there's an over arching arc involving the family business. That combined with some pretty awful stuff that William has done, I'm sure it's going to get real messy and ugly in the coming books.
- Don't expect the wheel to be reinvented here. There's a certain degree of predictability in THE BOURBON KINGS, lots of common plot devices wherein you can sort of figure out early on what's happened/going to happen. It's not a negative per se, the novel is both plot and character driven, and I think it was a conscious effort as Ward focused more on the Bradford-Baldwines, and the muck they're in to, which will force the characters to grow as the saga moves along. The radius of the story might be small right now, but trust me the current is strong and it runs deep. You can say that this series debut is an elaborate stage setting of sorts, THE BOURBON KINGS reek of money, dysfunction, & intrigue, it's impossible for anyone not to get hooked.
- That said, expect a lot of character stereotypes here, which I wasn't a fan of. There's also a few situations where it's so cliche I can't help but snort and roll my eyes.
- THE BOURBON KINGS is filled with opulence coupled with a few "rich folks problems" that we, the bourgeoisie, find intriguing, and would at times find laughable. I mean Gin got so flustered because she doesn't know how to pack a suitcase or drive a stick-shift Porsche, Ferrari, or Jaguar. And God forbid, she can't be seen in a Mercedes sedan! So she settled for a Phantom Drophead instead because it's push and play *rolls eyes*. Don't worry, it's not going to be like Black Dagger Brotherhood where the label dropping is getting ridiculous. The stress on these people's affluence is to contrast how rotten things are beneath the glitz and glamour. Still, expect a good eye work out and not just from reading.
- THE BOURBON KINGS is not as funny or witty as BDB and/or The Fallen Angels.
- Last but not the least, THE ROMANCE. Ladies, let me preface this last item by saying that THE BOURBON KINGS isn't as sexy as The Black Dagger Brotherhood. There's no explicit sex scenes, no drawn out love making, no homo-erotic tones, no toys or any weird proclivities. It's a very tame NC-17 IMO. What this novel has though are powerful emotional relationships involving the siblings. There's no love at first sight as all the pair-ups so far have history together. I guess the novels serve as romantic conclusions to the relationships that were formed many years ago.
THE BOURBON KINGS is a happy medium between the Jessica Bird books and Ward's PNR novels. It's not formulaic HEA and not as dark as Black Dagger Brother or The Fallen Angels... yet (?). It's very contemporary but compelling nonetheless. Right now I'm not as invested in the characters as I was with the Brothers and Jim Heron. I'm more interested in the overarching arc and what sort of fate will befall the Bradford-Baldwines. Ward really got me with that hook at the very end, which totally changed a lot of things for me as far as THE BOURBON KINGS is concerned. Overall, I'm happy to read something else by Ward, BDB has gotten a bit stale for me. This is a good change from the usual and it goes without saying that I want more of this saga, and very curious about the upcoming Black Dagger Legacy series.