Be forewarned...if you are looking for deep, meaningful reading, The Bourbon Kings is not the book for you. But if you are interested in good escapist fiction that sucks you into the lives of privileged, spoiled rich people, you're going to be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.
First, let's be clear: There is nothing paranormal about The Bourbon Kings, unlike Ward's uber-successful Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This first book in the series instead relies on a deeply dysfunctional family whose ancestors began the Bradford Bourbon Company; a family that features one daughter and three brothers with deep-seeded scars at the hands of their strict, unfeeling father and emotionally distant mother. The main character is Lane, third son, who has had nothing to do with his family for over two years; he's left the old Kentucky home of Easterly and lives in New York, playing poker and avoiding life. But with a phone call that the woman he feels is his true mother is dying, Lane takes a flight back and ends up staring down his demons: his father, the family business, the woman he loves, and a wife who somehow is still living with the family despite the estrangement between them.
The points of view shift around a bit in this novel, with Lane and Lizzie (the woman he loved and lost), taking the most pages as family secrets, lies, and outright cruelty take center stage. But there are also chapters from Edward, the oldest brother, now physically incapacitated and well on his way to being a full-on alcoholic; Gin, the youngest sister whose libido attacks first and asks questions later; and Sutton, the daughter of the rival bourbon company. I found myself fully engaged each time the point of view moved, ready to find out what atrocity was looming and whose life was about to implode next.
Sure, the storyline is overly dramatic but there's some base satisfaction to be had in knowing that the rich have problems, too, and Ward deals them out in spades. As Lane tries desperately to win Lizzie back, other ugly truths begin to rear their heads, and he realizes the family's problems go way deeper than his being married to a someone he hates. There are several mysteries thrown in, and some flashbacks give insight into what put the dys- into dysfunctional. Life is complicated and overwrought and yet you cannot look away.
There are a few negative points, including the way Ward "borrows" things like the Kentucky Derby and renames them...Yes, I'm aware she probably needed to do so to avoid getting in trouble, but it's still annoying. There are also some misunderstandings that are silly, and everything is over the top. But it's that very thing, the over the top bit, that pulls you in and keeps you turning those pages to learn more.
I admit I'm hooked. It's the whole Dynasty vibe, and it's got me loving the fun. Don't pick it apart; just give it a go for what it is and enjoy the ride.
Blogger isn't letting me upload the photo...so I'll give you a link instead.