The Bourbon Kings - Bourbon Kings, Bk 1 Author:J. R. Ward The #1 "New York Times" bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal ... — Upstairs on the sprawling estate of Easterly, the kings of the bourbon ... more »capital of the world the Bradford family appear to play by the rules of good fortune and taste. Downstairs, the staff works 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 she intended and their breakup proved her instincts right. Now, after two years, Tulane is coming home. And no one will be left unmarked. . .« less
Here it is, one of two big releases in July and a much-touted hardcover by JR Ward, the author who made a name for herself with the angsty vamps of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
The Bourbon Kings is a classic "sweeping family epic" replete with stereotypical characters and tired plot elements:
Daddy Dearest (who married the family with the fortune) - Abusive, controlling, hateful, liar, cheat, embezzler, and all around utterly despicable man. (He probably had bad breath too.)
Absent Mother - Weak, insipid, lame, and a nonentity. Rather than crawling into a bottle of the family's bourbon she climbed into doctor's drugs and lives - if you can call it that - in her bedroom.
Eldest Son - Heir to the business and respected by the board, he was quickly moving into position to take over the family business. Physically broken by a South American kidnapping (likely engineered by said Despicable Daddy Dearest) who turns alcoholic horse-breeder.
Youngest Prodigal Son - Our 'brooding reluctant hero'. Screws clinging deb, leaves deb, falls for head gardener, declares love for gardener, learns deb is preggers, marries deb, leaves for NYC and the sofa of an old college chum where he crashes for 2 years trying to drink himself to death while torturing self for his mistakes. Oddly, he seems incapable of calling a divorce attorney, so stupid comes in here too, though I think we're supposed to see tortured hero. hummmm .......... Apparently 'stupid' has a new definition.
Vacuous Deb - Gets knocked up deliberately to coerce youngest to marry her. Stays at family mansion when new hubby deserts her for a couch in NYC. Gets abortion to keep her figure. Is screwing Daddy Dearest and ........ well, some history just repeats itself.
Middle Son - WHO?????
Slutty Sister - Vain, vapid and manipulative and does phone sex while hairdresser works on her, so throw in tacky. (Or just throw up. Your choice.) Complete with out of wedlock child at 17 and now a parasite on the family fortune. Sold to a yucky toad son of liquor distributor by Despicable Daddy Dearest for an advantageous contract. Realizes family is broke - runs to toad. Underwear optional.
Daughter of Arch Competitor - In love with broken eldest son and holds mortgage on their family estate. Juliet to his unwilling, alcoholic, self-loathing Romeo. These people all need shrinks.
Loyal Head Cook - and the 'real' mother to the boys. Her being taken to the hospital means the Prodigal returns to the bosom of his family.
Head Gardener - Blond, hard-working, honest, loyal, and a glutton for punishment for hanging around this estate despite a masters in horticulture. Leaps to conclusions. Maybe she should have applied to Longwood Gardens and skipped the whole nightmare of 'forbidden love'.
Assorted hangers on, supporting players, fast cars, family jet.
Missing - Shoulder pads, big hair, catchy, dramatic theme song while panning opening film of dynastic estate, and JR Ewing - who would have at least made things interesting. (Just a moment, I'm having an '80's flashback to Loverboy doing Everybody's Working for the Weekend and need to regain my sanity.) Great, now I have an earworm. OK, so let's assume you miss the original Dallas, Falcon Crest, and Dynasty, (and I'll ignore your obvious need for therapy), well rejoice!!!! You have found your book! Shallow, predictable, boring, trite, tedious, boring, ...... wait I said that, hang on ...... insipid, dull, humdrum, and .............. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
The Bourbon Kings is a melodramatic, overwrought, snoozefest and gets a resounding D (2*) and a suggestion that you SAVE YOURSELF! Go buy something else, I beg you! I swear I could feel brain cells dying by page 60. Purchased from BAM and I should have just burned the money. I could have toasted some marshmallows in the flames.
So, a rather disappointing start. I felt that the characters and story were 'expected.' Nothing that happened was surprising or, IMO, original. I also felt that it was rather rushed...I am sad to say this as I am a huge fan of the Warden but this was just not up to her normal standards. One last note, and maybe this is just me, but I had a really hard time feeling bad for any of them (except maybe Edward at first)and frankly the age of us feeling sorry for the rich people falling on hard times has passed.