[656]: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

23355896 The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings, #1
NAL | July 28th, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 420 pp.
Adult Fiction | Family Drama
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


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 iron-fisted 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.


After almost a year of ignoring this book, I finally succumbed and read it. Perfect timing too, considering the next book comes out at the end of the month. You see? Sometimes, procrastination is a good thing.

Dysfunction is an Art Form.

This brand new series by JR Ward is a take off from her usual Urban Fantasy fare. Fashioned after the 80s tv series, Dallas, it has family drama, scandal, murder mystery, skeletons, and romance. It features a prominent Kentucky family who owned the monopoly on Bourbon in America. The patriarch and matriarch of the Bradford Family are in a what you could consider as a stereotypical marriage of convenience amongst rich people. For appearance’s sake, they live in the same mansion but sleep in different beds. He sleeps around, controls the family’s finances, and treats his family like shit. In short, a perennial Father of the Year candidate. The mother is no better. You don’t even see her through the entire novel. She’s in her room all the time – apparently hooked on whatever painkillers she could get her hands on. But I’m willing to bet that in the end, she will save the entire family from ruin, therefore giving this series the mother of a plot twist. Don’t quote me on that, though.

The Prodigal Son Returns.

So this story is about Jonathan Tulane Baldwine and his return to the family after receiving some bad news. Lane hasn’t lived in Kentucky for years for two reasons: one, he can’t stand his family. And two, because of Lizzie King – aka, the one that got away. Lizzie King is the girl who broke his heart but she’ll tell you that he trampled on her’s first by getting another woman pregnant.  And since she still works for the family, the reunion will be spectacularly bad. While the focus of the book is how they get over themselves and realize they belong together, this book is also an introduction to the rest of the family.

The Bradford Brood.

It’s implied that Max, the second oldest is out of the picture for –  perhaps the same reason Lane has for leaving; Edward the oldest, left after he was rescued from a kidnapping for ransom in South America. He is scarred beyond recognition. Gin was the only one who stayed because the woman loves luxury too much to have any sense of pride. Later, Lane will find out that the family is well on their way to financial ruin all thanks to father dearest. So it’s up to him to figure out how to save the family from everything else.

In Retrospect

This series is turning out to be one for the ages. The kind that will incite a fervor devotion from her already loyal fanbase. It is enthralling, in as much as a soap opera or a reality tv show devotees follow their beloved shows religiously. We may have gotten a resolution to Lane and Lizzie’s relationship in this first installment, but it left a number of plot arches wide open for speculation. As it stands, there are a few that has me anxiously waiting for the next books: I’m curious about the death of one character; Edward’s relationship to the daughter of a rival family; Sam and Gin’s toxic love affair over the years, and of course, Max’s whereabouts and eventual return.