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The Bourbon Kings (Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward #BookReview



Author: JR Ward
Title: The Bourbon Kings
Series: The Bourbon Kings
Book #: 1
Genre(s): Contemporary romance, family empire
Release date: July 28, 2015
Publisher: NAL (Penguin)
Length: 432 pages
Heat level: Moderate
Review copy provided by: Publisher, in exchange for honest review
Reviewer recap: When Tulane Bradford gets a call that his Mama is dying, he heads straight home to be with the woman who raised him and runs right into old flame—and head gardener of the Bradford estate—Lizzie King. Lizzie isn't a blue blood, so she'll never be good enough for golden boy Lane Bradford, but their fire runs deep and they're drawn to one another regardless of circumstance. The Bradford family may lead a substantial empire in the Bourbon industry, but hard times fall on even the best investors, and this family is in the beginnings of a downward spiral that will change the way they see (and live) life forever. More Dynasty-style soap opera than contemporary romance, this first book in the Bourbon Kings series is cultured, elegant and an addicting read.
Writing style & finesse




Character development

Likeable/relatable characters

Plot tension

Flow & pacing

Heat &/or sexual tension

Total Score
8.8/ 10

User Rating
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Posted June 24, 2016 by

*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***

I’m not sure exactly what I expected when I cracked open my review copy of The Bourbon Kings, but the innate warmth of Lizzie and Lane (even if it was a subtle and deep-down warmth) and genteel immersion in Southern society was definitely not it. What a great way to kick off a brand new series from J.R. Ward!

If you’ve written off J.R. Ward after the morass of some of the Black Dagger Brotherhood story arcs, try her again. This is an author who knows how to set the stage, tease out just the right balance of detail and secrets, give you everything you want and still leave you begging for more. As far as I’m concerned, any remaining pall cast over Ms. Ward’s writing abilities from the late Brotherhood books has been firmly banished by The Bourbon Kings. This new, Kentucky-based series resets the scene with a fresh, immersive, explosive start.

Ward is back to basics and it’s beautiful. The Bourbon Kings rides a clean, budding story arc and features unique, memorable new characters—each with his or her own rich history—in remarkable shades of Southern personalities, both cultured and down home. This story is rich in accents, especially Southern ones, with all their regional nuances and status clues. Accents are notoriously difficult to translate into text, but Ms. Ward makes it look effortless, and I could actually hear that distinct, lazy drawl in my head.

The cast of characters in The Bourbon Kings is fairly large—large enough, certainly, to spin out a complex set of interwoven story arcs—but not so vast that readers will be overwhelmed or confused. Given how unmanageable the BDB cast and plot set became, I am crossing my fingers for Ms. Ward to keep things a little simpler and character-focused in this new series. Only time will tell though, and I’m absolutely looking forward to the next book!

Lane and Lizzie are a wonderful couple and while they lead the story arc for this book, they don’t dominate the pages, leaving plenty of room for the other characters to grow their own roots and set up their individual storylines. Lane and Lizzie have passion and spark together, and their relationship is actually kind of adorable when the Bradford drama isn’t hijacking it. He’s a good man, regardless of the playboy reputation he still carries, and she’s a strong, capable, talented woman who reminds me of the tough-yet-sweet women in my own family.

One final note: This book is a romance, but it spends as much time building out the family saga as it does focusing on Lizzie and Lane. The main couple do have a happy ending, but the story features a lot of flashbacks to traumatic family history, and there are a few rough scenes that might disturb readers who are sensitive to rape situations.

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Sue "DaVinciKittie" Brown-Moore is a veteran romance blogger and reviewer and the primary voice for GraveTells.com. Sue and GraveTells have won several blogging awards, and GraveTells recently celebrated its five-year anniversary! Sue is also a freelance Developmental Editor passionate about helping authors bring out the best in their stories. She loves reading romance, fantasy, and sci-fi and edits any genre she reads for pleasure. You can follow Sue's editing blog, with tips and tricks for authors, at DaVinciKittie.com.


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