bourbon kings book coverReviewed by Amanda Farmer

I was excited to hear that J.R. Ward had another series coming out. I admit to loving her The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, and couldn’t wait to read The Bourbon Kings. Unfortunately, The Bourbon Kings was nothing like my beloved series and left me disappointed.

The Bourbon Kings is the first installment in a series about the Bradford family, the ruling family in the Louisville bourbon industry and one of the wealthiest families from old Southern money. The book is set in Charlemont, Kentucky and focuses on William and Virginia Bradford’s family history and their four children: Edward, Maxwell, Lane, and Virginia (Gin). Although Lane is the primary focus, we do get to know the other siblings throughout the story as well.

After two years of hiding in New York, Lane is returning home to the sprawling family estate. Once he is home, old wounds are opened and tightly kept secrets are revealed. The Bradford family is anything but a happy one–tensions are tight and tempers are flaring. People are found dead in the estate home and the deaths are quickly covered up. There is no end to the money that the Bradfords will spend to save themselves and place others in the line of fire. But the secrets that are coming to light might very well destroy the Bradford name and family.

As I was reading The Bourbon Kings, I didn’t find myself connecting with or liking any of the characters. I found the Bradfords to be selfish and conceited but I guess that was the point. They had no redeeming qualities. Gin was selfish, conceited, and spoiled. Edward wouldn’t have been to bad if it wasn’t for him being weak when it came to his drinking; he actually made a living instead of using his trust fund. Max might have been an interesting character but he was only mentioned in memories.

Lane’s character wasn’t much better. He gave in to his family much too easily and married a trophy wife, only to leave her at the estate and live in New York. He loved Lizzie but couldn’t be with her because she was the estate gardener. Lizzie stayed working for the family after Lane broke her heart and couldn’t make up her mind when it came to Lane after his return. She was so wishy-washy it made my head hurt. She never listened to his side of the stories and always jumped to conclusions.

The story flowed but couldn’t keep my attention because I didn’t care what was going to happen next to the characters or to the story. The Bourbon Kings fell short for me. I will continue reading the BDB series but will not be continuing with these new books. I would not recommend this series to anyone new to J.R. Ward; give her Black Dagger Brotherhood series a try instead.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Amanda loves spending time at home with her husband and their dog, Oreo. She loves reading, playing puzzle games, beading and watching movies. When she’s not reading, she’s working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by NAL. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.