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The Bourbon Kings
by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Dark Lover, Lover Eternal, Lover Awakened, Covet, Crave, Lover Revealed, Lover Unbound, Lover Enshrined, Lover Mine, Lover Unleashed, Envy, An Irresistible Bachelor, His Comfort and Joy, Lover Reborn, Rapture, Lover at Last, Possession, The King, The Shadows, Blood Kiss, The Beast, Blood Vow.
First in The Bourbon Kings melodramatic romance series and revolving around the privileged, excessively spoiled Bradford family.
Okay, that’s not entirely fair. This family has so damned much money, well, okay, I guess if you’re going to save money by not heating or cooling the staff quarters, it makes it easier for the dollars to pile up.
Edward has some nasty emotional, physical, and mental issues with which he’s dealing, AND he’s trying to be productive. We don’t know much about Max other than the family story Lane dwells on and one brief comment about his lifestyle. Lane is incredibly irresponsible. And Gin. Jesus.
On one hand, I do feel sorry for Gin, for what her father is doing to her. Then again, she is such a spoiled bratty whore of a girl, that it almost seems like God’s justice. Of course, her upbringing has been pretty horrible. The same goes for the rest of her siblings.
Let me start off by repeating. This is a romance, not a paranormal one. The only thing fantastic about it is the tension and melodrama. It is similar to the Black Dagger Brotherhood in one respect, it will focus on each sibling’s romance in each installment.
It takes a helluva lot of words to introduce The Bourbon Kings, and it’s all that show of Ward’s. It is a beautiful example of show, even with the mass quantities of it, and Ward really makes you see the house, the people’s characters, feel the emotions.
Why didn’t Ward exploit Edward’s screw-up, literally, with Sutton? He’s been fantasizing about her for years — and paying through the nose for it — and he has hardly any reaction to to his discovery the next morning. WTF?
Why would Lane leave that bitch wife of his in his house? As for Gin and Samuel T. Talk about dysfunctional.
After all the horror of this family, all it takes is Edward encountering Miss Aurora and her calling him her precious boy for him to turn that corner.
I like Lizzie. I do. But she has got to stop leaping to conclusions! Sure it’s the second time, but she already knows how Chantal tricked Lane the first time. Why wouldn’t she think she was doing it again? Then that last “chivalrous” deed of hers. Really?
Ward certainly cranks up the drama and tension. It’s over the top, but does grab your attention.
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.
…the Bradford Family Estate (BFE) requiring 72 full-time staff, all following a rigid caste system. Bradford Bourbon Company is the family gold mine with No. 15 the most popular bourbon. William Baldwine is their brutal father who married into the Bradfords; he’s funneling beaucoup bucks into William Wyatt Baldwine Holdings. Mrs. Virginia Elizabeth Bradford, Mother, a.k.a., Little V.E., is a pill-poppin’ addict who lives in her bed.
Edward, the oldest son, was kidnapped a while ago, horribly tortured, and I’m having some nasty suspicions about his father. Despite the fact that distilling is in his blood, he’s quit the family business and now runs the family’s Red & Black Stables. Moe Brown is the stable manager. Jeb Landis was a trainer of more stakes’ legends than any other man. And an alcoholic. Shelby Landis is Jeb’s daughter, and she wants to be hired on as a stablehand. Nebekanzer is his primary stallion, breeding fast sons and daughters. Bouncin’ Baby Boy had to be scratched.
I reckon Maxwell, the second oldest, will come much later in the series. Seems he’s got some kink going on.
Virginia “Gin” Elizabeth Baldwine is the youngest and only sister, and a major slut with no consideration for anyone. She’s having an affair with the married Conrad Stetson to get at Samuel. She’s already had a daughter, Amelia, whom she doesn’t want around as a reminder of her stupid choices.
Jonathan “Lane” Tulane Baldwine is the youngest son who fled the family estate for New York City. Jeff Stern, his old fraternity brother, is his host and roommate. Billy brought the bimbo. Chantal Blair Stowe Baldwine is Lane’s golddigger wife whom he ignores, but she lives on the estate, spending his money and ordering the staff around.
Lizzie King is one of two head horticulturalists with a national reputation and a master’s in landscape architecture from Cornell. Buella and Ross are Lizzie’s helpful neighbors. Greta von Schlieber is German with enough money not to work, but she does like working as a horticulturalist. Gary McAdams is the head groundsman.
Miss Aurora Toms, the cook, is the woman who really loved Lane, and he loves her back, as if she were his real mother. And he’s worried that the cancer is back. Miss Patience is her sister. Their father (and a player), Tom, recently died at 86. Her nephews include D’Shawne who’s playing wide receiver for the Indiana Colts; Qwentin is center for Miami Heat. She was the one who took the children to church and Lane still goes with her when he’s in town. Rev. Nye is the pastor. Tanesha is the reverend’s oldest daughter and in residency at U of C. I suspect she’s in love with Max. Stan is Thomas Blake‘s brother.
Newark Harris is the new, snotty butler. Mrs. Mollie is the head of housekeeping. Patty Sweringin is Mrs. Bradford’s nurse. Rosalinda Freehand is the family controller having the l-o-o-ng-term affair with William. Reginald Tressel is the house bartender (he’s the one who called Lane about Miss Aurora going to the hospital; people also call him the unofficial mayor of Charlemont). I think Hazel is Reg’s wife. Tiphanii is a maid with delusions.
Edwin “Mack” MacAllan, Jr., is the Master Distiller, furious with the latest mandate handed down by the accountants. He’s friends with Lane. Georgia O’Malley is his secretary. Ms. Petersburg is Daddy’s professional executive assistant.
“Samuel T.” Theodore Lodge is the family lawyer. Savannah Locke is the date he brings to dinner.
The Sutton Distillery Corporation is…
…rivals with the Bradfords. Sutton Smythe is the heir. Reynolds Smythe is Sutton’s father. Brandon Milner was the date with whom Sutton had been going to the Derby ball.
The Pendergasts include…
…Buggy Pendergast who is used to getting her own way, and she wants to invest in Red & Black Stables.
Pford Liquor and Spirits Distributors is…
…the network that funnels Bradford Bourbon to liquor stores and more. It’s heir, the brutal Richard Pford IV, has bought himself Gin as a bride. In return, he’s promised her daddy favorable terms.
Deputy Sheriff Mitchell Ramsey is a former Army Ranger who’s trying to help Lane and Gin. He’s the man who actually rescued Edward. Judge McQuaid will help.
Prospect Trust Company handles…
…the Bradford Family Trusts with the household checking accounts handled by PNC. Connie is one of the PTC administrators. Ricardo Monteverdi is CEO of PTC.
The Charlemont Derby is…
…the most important seven days in the state of Kentucky. This year, it’s the 139th running.
Beau is the pimp who keeps Edward supplied. Delilah is one of the compassionate girls.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a metallic deep yellow with red etching-like lines forming flowers and leaves as a background and Easterly etched in the same red at the base of the cover, fading up into the tuxedo-clad Lane Bradford.
The title is also the name of the series and the focus of it as well. The Bourbon Kings are teetering on their throne.