I'm a big fan of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I enjoy her over the top characters and her heavy hand with rap references gives me shivers of pure glee. "The Bourbon Kings" is the first book in a new, non-supernatural series.
Summary: The Bradford Family is Southern Royalty. Extremely wealthy and even more entitled, the newest generation of Bradfords play hard and spend harder, without really caring where it comes from or how its made.
Tulane "Lane" Bradford is the youngest son of the family. Devastatingly handsome and very charming, he lives in New York to escape an unhappy (understatement) marriage, a domineering father, absent mother, messed up siblings and the love of his life, who's heart her broke when he married someone else.
Lane gets a phone call that brings him home to the family's estate, Easterly, where the glamour and privilege enjoyed by the Bradfords starts to crumble. As Lane realizes he needs to man up, his romance with Lizzie rekindles as his family falls apart.
My Thoughts: I'm still torn about "The Bourbon Kings" and its been a few weeks since I've read it. Part of me enjoyed the story in a rubbernecking, guilty pleasure sort of way. I am endlessly fascinated by the train wreck lives of the idle rich. Add in dark family secrets, a little bit of intrigue and a quickie in the million dollar wine cellar and I'll be turning the pages faster than a Kardashain can take a selfie.
"The Bourbon Kings" had all of that, but...the characters also left me so cold that I couldn't find it in my bookwormy heart to sympathize with them when the choices they made brought them to the lowest of lows. These characters aren't just the idle rich, they are entitled to the point of ridiculousness. They don't own their mistakes unless forced to, don't work for anything they're given, and really have almost no redeeming qualities.
Lane thinks he impregnates a college fling and marries her, despite being in love with someone else. Then, instead of facing the fact that he made a mistake he runs off to a life of alcoholism and gambling. Even after he learns that his gold-digging wife aborted their baby. Although Lane is the male lead of the romance in "The Bourbon Kings", I didn't find him worthy of the leading lady.
Lizzie King, the leading lady of the book, is an an independent, strong willed woman. She's the head gardener at Easterly, works hard and knows her worth. Except amid the chaos of the Bradford family, she ends up feeling like a supporting cast member. I was far more interested in the messed up Bradfords than the romance between Lane and Lizzie. Plus, I wanted Lizzie to see that she could do better than Lane and run away as far as she could. A hot body and a Porsche aren't worth it.
My gut reaction to the miserable characters and their glamorous lives is that Ward is bringing each member of the Bradford family to their low point before raising them up. Towards the end of the story Lane filed for divorce and even took a minor interest in unraveling the mess of the family business.
Point of interest, I still can't wrap my mind around the only lady Bradford. Ginny, the only daughter of the family, is filled with so much self loathing and fear that she agrees to marry her rapist instead of get a job. SAY WHAT? Add in the fact that she doesn't interact with her teenage daughter and can't be bothered to pick up her own clothes, I found absolutely nothing likeable about her except for her taste in accessories.
Rating: I found the romance lack luster but the family drama titillating. I'm glad I read it, moreso that I got it from the library.
Also Read by This Author: All of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, most of the Fallen Angels series.
Reviewed By: Tami