Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

The Bourbon Kings (#1) by J.R. Ward
Publication date: Jul. 28, 2015
Publisher: NAL
Category: Romance - Contemporary
Source: Received finish copy from publisher (Thanks!)
Summary: 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 good
The Bourbon Kings is drama drama drama with a side of gorgeous, damaged men, the independent women who love them (and vice-versa) and did I mention the drama? This was my first non-Black Dagger Brotherhood book by J.R. Ward and she did not disappoint. Over-the-top shenanigans isn’t always for me but in Ward’s hands, it is 100% entertaining. I couldn’t get enough of that, the many secrets bound to be uncovered and of course, the steamy relationships. This series takes place in the South, where the Bradford family are considered the kings of the bourbon industry. This has earned them boundless privileges and money, which is clear with one look at Easterly estate. The family have always relied heavily upon their riches and the staff who work all hours to keep them happy. But, as can be expected, the “help” and the Bradfords can never mix on a personal level. Except Lane Bradford seems hell-bent on breaking that rule.

Lizzie King is the head gardener at Easterly. She’s intelligent, hardworking and puts up with everything the the Bradfords and the rest of their staff have ever dished her way. The only time she’s ever cracked was when she fell in love with Lane despite her better judgement. It’s been years since their bitter breakup but when family circumstances bring him back to Easterly, it turns both her life and every Bradford’s world into total upheaval. There’s Lane’s horrible wife (!) who you will want to throttle upon meeting, his older brother Edward who is estranged from the family, his sister Gin who is spiraling and his father who everyone pretty much hates (his children included). All the characters in one place becomes the catalyst for numerous confrontations, not to mention each person making rash decisions. But at the center of all the unfolding craziness are Lizzie and Lane. She’s fighting the feelings that never truly went again and he’s making it pretty clear that she’s the only one for him. It’s a constant push-and-pull and I rooted for them instantly.

(Super minor) Reservations
I enjoyed Lizzie and Lane but I did feel like a lot of their drama was self-inflicted. Mostly on Lizzie’s side. But there were so many interesting people in The Bourbon Kings and I thought these two were outshined by Edward Bradford and his lady love.

Do I recommend?
Yes! This was such an entertaining read and a solid introduction into this world. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Especially if it involves Edward!


  1. Edward is my favorite too! I can't wait to read more about him <3 But seriously, if there's anyone who can handle copious amounts of drama extremely well, it's J.R. Ward. I'm not great with too much drama, but I can always make an exception for her books ;)

  2. YES! I loved Edward! I totally agree with you about Lane and Lizzie inflicting their own drama. It annoyed me to no end. In fact, it actually made me a tad disinterested in them. I just found Edward and even Gin to be way more interesting.


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