Dual Review: The Bourbon Kings by JR WardThe Bourbon Kings by JR Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Published by NAL on July 28, 2015
Genres: Contemp Romance
Pages: 420
Format: Hardcover
Source: Courtesy review copy
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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.

This review is a fun treat! Both Book Savvy Babe and I read this one, and we have such opposite views on it, that I couldn’t wait to share.

Highland Hussy: So I know I said I would never read a JR Ward book again, after The Shadows (link here), but this hardcover came to me and it’s so pretty and it’s not BDB, so I really couldn’t resist.


I really should have resisted.

I hated everyone. This book is full of awful whiny people who do awful things to each other. I know it’s billed as Dynasty, or Dallas, and yeah, it’s got the Soap Opera vibe, but there’s no one to root for. I wish Lizzie had up and left and never looked back.

I also don’t like how it’s being marketed as a Romance. It’s not one. It’s fiction with a romance sort of in the background. Ward herself coined the term “Male of worth,” and yet not one person in here, let alone the hero, could be characterized as a male of worth. All of them were horrible people. I can’t use the term “hero” to describe Lane either, there’s nothing heroic about a trust fund baby man child who spends 2 years boozing it up on his buddy’s couch so he doesn’t have to go home and deal with his responsibilities. If he had changed, sure, but he’s still a big whiny man-child by the end.

So, yeah, it’s a DNF for me, and I definitely didn’t like it. I want some romance, I want characters I can like. I don’t want whatever this was.

Book Savvy Babe-

Ok, I really enjoyed this book.  I love soap opera stories, I love the drama, and especially drama surrounding a family and The Bourbon Kings is just that.  The story is centered around the Bradford family, a dysfunctional yet very wealthy family.  The sister is a snobbish brat, one brother is injured and broody (Edward), and the other brother featured in this story (Lane) is the one with his head in the sand.  Then there’s Lizzy, the woman who works at the family estate and loved and lost Tulane.  Throw in Tulane’s greedy wife, a mean stepfather, and a dead body and BOOM!  Drama-filled, soap opera!

The pacing of this book was  not the smoothest, some parts were a little slow.  However, those slow parts gave more background on the family and surrounding characters.  There are a lot of characters in this series, and a lot of angles and varying viewpoints in the story.  The main/featured characters in The Bourbon Kings were Lizzy and Lane, and I was rooting for them throughout the book, despite all their ups and downs.  Edward is a tortured character, and my heart went out to him through this book.  I loved the Kentucky horse racing side to the story, it’s something different.  I did not love all the characters, the sister rubbed me the wrong way, but I feel like she definitely has her own story to tell.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Bourbon Kings, it felt like a modern retelling of the old soap opera Dallas.  This book was definitely book 1 in the series and it set up plenty of future story lines.  The Bourbon Kings is an intriguing start to a new saga.  I am definitely curious to see what comes next for the Bradford family.

For those of you debating this book, if you like plenty of drama and more exaggerated story lines, you will enjoy this book.  This book is drama-filled fiction and fun to read.  I say give it a try!

Book Savvy Babe’s rating: 3.5 of 5 stars