Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Published by NAL
Published on July 28, 2015
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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.
This book is like “The Little Engine That Could.” The first fifty pages are rough and disjointed, randomly flashing back at unnatural but convenient times. There is a lot of eluding and not enough happening. The story tries to find its footing but just can’t gain any momentum. It takes Ward about 100 pages to find her flow and really start to take the story/stories somewhere worthwhile. The shift in writing quality makes me wonder if she took a writing break. Everything after the first 100 pages is different in flow, personality, and quality of storytelling and manages to turn a turbulent beginning into a fine finish.
The Bourbon Kings is clearly meant as a set up for all of the subsequent books in the series. The focus is technically one couple, Lane and Lizzie, but there are several side stories competing for the spotlight. I enjoyed hearing about these other characters and seeing more of their lives but I felt that it really took away from Lane and Lizzie. I didn’t feel attached to any one storyline and therefore never really felt invested.
There are a lot of editing issues. A lot. I received an advanced copy but if Ward’s previous books are any indication, I doubt the issues were fixed. There are typos, missing words, poor sentence structure, and misspelled words. Many of the issues would have been pointed out in a program such as Microsoft Word, allowing for efficient correction. I expect better from such an established author. The errors occur so frequently that I found it distracting.
I also took issue with the chapter endings. The chapters fail to build suspense that forces the reader to dive into the next chapter. This would be fine if the chapters were meant to flow independently of each other but this is not Ward’s intention. The problem arises when something random is thrown at the reader in the final few sentences of the chapter. The endings read more like an angsty teenager’s vague Facebook status than a cliffhanger. The chapter should build anticipation and suspense like a slow seduction. Pick up lines don’t work nearly as well as a seduction and neither does a one-liner lead-in from left field at the end of a chapter.
The Bourbon Kings has a rough start but a strong finish and I will definitely continue reading the series. There are some unique characters and plotlines that will undoubtedly be explored in the future and I am very curious about the fate of everyone involved. The series has great potential and I only hope Ward doesn’t stretch this series out as long as her previous one and finds a solid editor.
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