Type: Contemporary Romance
My Copy: Sent
Reviewer: Pam & Nikki
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.
Pam: What an intriguing, epic family drama; there are secrets, death and mysteries that have followed the Bradford/Baldwine family for decades. Prize winning bourbon is at the heart of the family wealth but deceit and greed will be their downfall unless someone can turn things around.
Nikki: If by “intriguing, epic family drama” you mean “fucked up family drama” I 100% agree with you. If you have ever watched an episode of Dallas (either old or new version) then you know what the Bourbon Kings is like. Everyone has something going on under the surface and everyone is or has slept with everyone else. Murder, deceit and family money are the root of this family’s problems.
Pam: Lane Baldwine has been living away for two years and is home because his beloved Miss Aurora has been ill; she is the mother figure he never had. While he is here, he will be taking care of some personal business, talking to the love of his life and getting a divorce from his wife. What he does not know is that the Bradford/Baldwine world is about to crash down on the entire family.
Nikki: Lane Baldwine is so freaking yummy…..even if half the story that is supposed to be his, is about every other person living in this mansion. I liked how he was desperately trying to be better than his family, and to do that he escaped off the compound. Sure, he left behind a mess that he didn’t want to deal with, and now that’s he back, it’s much worse…but whatever….he’s hot. I also enjoyed his connection to Miss Aurora and his southern manners that seemed to only come into play with her.
Pam: Lizzie King works for the family as the head landscaper and takes care of the estate grounds. She has worked there for several years and was once involved with Lane, however things did not end well and she is not looking forward to seeing him again. As soon as she hears Miss Aurora is ill, she knows Lane will be home, but what she does not know is what she will say to him. When several scandals and a death become known at the estate, Lane and Lizzie realize things are not always what they seem and their feelings for each other have not diminished over the years.
Nikki: Of COURSE Lizzie works there as the head gardener…b/c duh, this is a southern book based on money and someone is always sleeping with the staff. But I liked Lizzie’s headstrong personality and her inability to tell Lane no on most occasions.
Pam: I truly could not put this book down after I started it and spend a lazy Sunday reading about the Bradford/Baldwine family who hide so many secrets and lies. Easterly is the Bradford Family Estate or BFE as the locals call it and it sits high on the hill, an example of wealth and prestige; however it is a disguise that surrounds the family who seem to have it all, but reality is a bitch.
Nikki: I couldn’t put the book down either because I was all “how fucked up is this going to get?” the entire way through. People be sleeping around, a scarred brother who is hiding down in the stables, a sister being forced into a marriage who has a secret love child of a family friend, a father who could care less about his family, a drunken, pill popping mother…..yeah….DRAMA, party of one, your table is ready…
Pam: Lane has spent the last two years mourning the loss of his freedom and his love; he is a foolish man who seems to finally have a backbone, he is now willing to stand up for what he wants, against his father, his wife and Lizzie. He is also apparently the only one to keep the family afloat, as Edward is broken, Gin is bent on destroying herself and Max is missing. Although Lane is responsible for some of the mess he is in, I felt sorry for him and was glad to see his strength toward the end.
Nikki: I have no remorse for the drama Lane has created for himself. It was fun to watch him twisting in the winds against all the bullshit he’d created on his own. It was nice to see him grow a set of balls and take on his father and finally try to get what he wants instead of running and hiding in New York again.
Pam: Lizzie is a decent person, but is so wrapped up with this family that she never left; I am actually surprised she stayed working for them after Lane disappeared. I realize that she likes her job but she is also an intelligent person, and I had to laugh as she roll her eyes at some of the things she has to do because of the family status.
Nikki: I don’t understand the mentality of working for a family who basically sees you as less than human. There is no way in hell I’d put up with being a servant for someone. Even if they paid well. Lizzie is intelligent, I agree with Pam there, but seriously, the amount of bullshit she put up with was astounding. I’d either resort to massive amounts of Xanax, or flip my shit and pour bleach all over their precious lawn in the shapes of giant penises…
Pam: The family dynamics is interesting, we never see the mother as she has “taken to her bed” and is apparently drugged and asleep most of the time. Gin is a wreck and I can see huge drama as her story unfolds. Edward is likable but tortured, he will have major issues and I will be waiting for his story, it will definitely be sad to read, and we have no idea about Max, however there are hints about him from flashbacks when the children were young. And of course there is the patriarch William, who seems to be the force behind the family and maybe the cause of their demise. Several other secondary characters help the story along whether it be the beloved Miss Aurora, Lizzie’s employee Greta or Chantal, Lane’s wife.
Nikki: I want Edward’s story now! I loved him and his grouchy mentality. He’s a definite underdog character but I look forward to finding out more about him, his past and if his father actually had him tortured in order to stay head of the family.
Pam: The family is not very close but money, the bourbon empire and the estate keep them tied together and they will all tumble if there is no change, a daunting task as things are unfolding. The ending left many questions to be answered, definitely a saga to be continued much like those family dramas of years past. Yes there are some issues, it is not really a romance and it is a bit over the top in the drama not to mention I wanted to slap Lizzie for her unwillingness to get out when she could, but I am looking forward to more, I need to see where this train goes.
Nikki: As with any other JR Ward book, this really does not focus on one couple and instead paints an overall picture with many characters getting page time. I don’t really classify this as a romance, rather fiction heavy on the drama. It’s over the top but fun reading.
We give Bourbon Kings by JR Ward 4 stars!