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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 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
After making her name with the paranormal-leaning Black Dagger Brotherhood series, J. R. Ward changed course with this historical romance. The Bourbon Kings is a joyous melodrama that follows the Bradfords, an American family in Kentucky. The clan is fighting to hold onto their fortune as various forces—big egos, class tension, a deeply dysfunctional patriarchy—threaten to undo them. It’s a little Gone with the Wind with some Dynasty and Dallas thrown in—and the start of a page-turning series of passion and deceit.
Paranormal romance author Ward (the Black Dagger Brotherhood series) turns to contemporary romance with this melodramatic series opener. Lizzie King is a head gardener at Easterly, a massive Kentucky estate. The Bradfords, the Bourbon Kings of the title, own both Easterly and the most prestigious bourbon distillery in the state. Romance between Lizzie and Lane Bradford is socially unthinkable, no matter how much they desire it, especially since Lane is unhappily married already. Also, Lane's abusive father seems to be attempting chicanery with the family finances. Ward's novel doesn't lack excitement concealed scandals, unconcealed scandals, murder, kidnapping, incest, racism, the theft of millions of dollars, domestic violence, mistaken identity, and a thinly disguised Kentucky Derby all come in and out of the plot as necessary and the book flows smoothly from crisis to crisis, but all the ruckus fails to conceal the gaping hole where likable or interesting characters should be. In the end, this soap opera fails to be more than the sum of its parts.