Series: The Bourbon Kings

Review: Devil’s Cut by J.R. Ward

Posted February 26, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Devil’s Cut by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
Devil's Cut (The Bourbon Kings, #3) by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #3
Also in this series: The Bourbon Kings, The Bourbon Kings, The Angels' Share
Published by Ballantine
Publication Date: August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 418
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

In #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward’s thrilling finale of the Bourbon Kings series, the Bradford family dynasty teeters on the edge of collapse after the murder of their patriarch—and a shocking arrest.

At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company’s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there’s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.

Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.

As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing’s for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

I’m sitting here reading my reviews of The Bourbon Kings (which I loved) and Angels’ Share (which I also loved) and wondering what the holy hell happened. This series had so much promise. The biggest promise was that it was only three (three!) books. I don’t know how that could get messed up, especially after the first two were pretty spectacular. And hello? That’s coming from one of JRW’s biggest critics. I didn’t just jump into this book, I dove into it headfirst only to come up gasping for air and wondering what the fuck happened between Angels’ Share and now. Even after a week I still have that WTF look on my face and if I had a paper copy of the book, I would burn it.

Devil’s Cut brings us back to the world of the Bradford Bourbon Company and the Baldwine family. It picks up exactly where Angels’ Share left off. Edward, the eldest Bradford sibling has confessed to murdering their father. He did have motive. His father arranged to have him kidnapped when he was on business in South America and didn’t pay the ransom. Edward never fully recovered. One problem with that scenario is that Edward could never have overpowered his father in a million years. It’s laughable. You will immediately pick up on the fact that he’s covering for someone.

Lane and Lizzie are as solid as ever. Lizzie is getting a little worn out and not just because she’s pregnant. What Lane is going through trying to save the family name and business isn’t anything to sneeze at. Lizzie is trying to help him however she can and do her job at Easterly, but it takes its toll on a person. Though she loves Lane, she does miss the days where she went home to her farm and got a little peace from the Bradford drama. However she doesn’t regret her decision to be with Lane. As for Lane, he adores Lizzie and will do anything she wants. Though her pregnancy throws him for a loop, he will do everything he can so he is nothing like the father he had.

Edward is in the pokey for a crime he didn’t commit. There is evidence, but the blind and ignorant detective has a prejudice against rich people and is convinced that Edward is guilty. It is laughable. I mean it’s admirable what Edward is trying to do, but it’s laughable that anyone would believe it. Just as laughable is the person that actually did the deed.

Gin. Ah, Gin. She changed the most from book one to three. In book one, she was most worried about her comfort. By book three, she realized what a disaster of a person she was. She had a daughter with the man she loved and she denied them both the opportunity to know each other. As punishment to the man no less. She didn’t consider her daughter, had never really considered her daughter until now. She has finally realized what a tragedy of a mother she is and seeks to change that by being there for Amelia. The first mistake she needs to rectify? Introducing SamuelT and Amelia. She knows it will damage her relationship with SamuelT beyond repair, but that is a price she is willing to pay. Gin’s journey was fascinating to read. I really enjoyed reading the growth she made as a character.

So what was my problem with the book? Where do I start? Everything was too pat. Edward got out of jail because the person that killed his father was on their deathbed. Seriously, this person was dying and was able to kill? I am rolling my eyes so hard my eyeballs hurt. Bring in Sutton Smythe who was a BBC competitor…she and Edward always had an attraction, even love, but Edward stopped that when he was rescued from South America. He never really recovered. Now in the space of about 2.75 pages he is miraculously emotionally healed and decides he is in love with Sutton and they are going to live happily ever after. Seriously.

Even the ending with Gin was too pat. Lane and Lizzie? That worked because their story has been told over the course of three books. Even Gin and SamuelT’s story has been going on that long. But they’ve been at odds for the length of three books. They can’t suddenly be okay in the last five pages. That does not work for this reader. It just doesn’t. There are other things I don’t want to spoil, but those things didn’t work for me either. And the BIG MISUNDERSTANDINGS? Nothankyouverymuch.

This book was just rushed. A big disappointment after the first two of the series.

The Bourbon Kings

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward

Posted August 24, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Angels’ Share by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
The Angels' Share by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #2
Also in this series: The Bourbon Kings, The Bourbon Kings, Devil's Cut (The Bourbon Kings, #3)
Published by NAL
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 414
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

#1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward delivers the second novel in her Bourbon Kings series—a sweeping saga of a Southern dynasty struggling to maintain a façade of privilege and prosperity, while secrets and indiscretions threaten its very foundation…   In Charlemont, Kentucky, the Bradford family is the crème de la crème of high society—just like their exclusive brand of bourbon. And their complicated lives and vast estate are run by a discrete staff who inevitably become embroiled in their affairs. This is especially true now, when the apparent suicide of the family patriarch is starting to look more and more like murder…   No one is above suspicion—especially the eldest Bradford son, Edward. The bad blood between him and his father is known far and wide, and he is aware that he could be named a suspect. As the investigation into the death intensifies, he keeps himself busy at the bottom of a bottle—as well as with his former horse trainer’s daughter. Meanwhile, the family’s financial future lies in the perfectly manicured hands of a business rival, a woman who wants Edward all to herself.   Everything has consequences; everybody has secrets. And few can be trusted. Then, at the very brink of the family’s demise, someone thought lost to them forever returns to the fold. Maxwell Bradford has come home. But is he a savior...or the worst of all the sinners?

I loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Once again we’re pulled into the worked of the Bradford Bourbon Kings, but this time their patriarch is dead. At first it was thought to be suicide until his finger is found buried on the grounds of the grand family estate. Then, it starts to look more like murder. But who would murder William Baldwine?

Lane Baldwine thinks he has an idea and it’s one he’s not to happy to have and not one that he’s going to share. He came back to Easterly when his momma, Miss Aurora was sick and he had no intention of staying. That was until he saw his Lizzie again and he knew he had to get her back. Get her back he did and he wanted nothing more than to leave with her. Until he learned that the Bradford Bourbon Company was in trouble, his father all but bankrupting the company. Lane brought his good friend Jeff down from Manhattan to follow the numbers and it didn’t take Jeff long to realize that someone has been embezzling from BBC and Lane decides to take the problem on himself. There is no way that Lane is letting the company that has been in his family for generation go belly up. He just doesn’t know how he’s going to turn it around.

If anyone can turn the company around, Lane thinks it’s his older brother Edward. Yet after their father arranged for his kidnapping and declined to paid the ransom all but leaving Edward for dead, Edward wants nothing to do with the family or the company. All Edward wants is to be left alone with his horses. Yet Edward feels a pull toward his siblings that won’t be denied. He also feels a pull toward Sutton Smythe, BBC’s number one competitor and the woman that Edward has been in love with half his life. Though there is nothing more Edward wants than Sutton, he knows that the shell of the man he is now is not what Sutton needs in her life and he can do nothing more than let her go.

In the meantime, Lane and Edward’s sister Gin (short for Virginia) has hopped on the money train that is Richard Pford. Gin has nothing if not an enormous sense of self-preservation and she’s never in her life had to support herself. Yet she starts to question whether she’s made the right decision with Richard when she gets advice from an unlikely source. She also realizes that though she’s been a terrible mother to her daughter, it is never too late to change that. Gin was just about unbearable in The Bourbon Kings, but in this book there was a slight turnaround as if she could be someone that her daughter and her brothers could be proud of.

As if there wasn’t enough drama, the middle son Maxwell shows up. It’s not clear where he’s been or why he’s there. He heard about his father’s death of course, but he seemed to be gone for so long, it’s a wonder that he showed up at all. There really wasn’t too much about Max, so I imagine that we will be seeing him in future books.

So yes, I loved this book because I loved the drama. The alternating points of view, which drive me batshit in the BDB series, work wonderfully in this series. The soap opera-esque way that this series has will draw you in so if you don’t want to be obsessed, don’t bother reading The Bourbon King series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

four-stars


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Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

Posted July 25, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Also in this series: The Bourbon Kings, The Angels' Share, Devil's Cut (The Bourbon Kings, #3)
Published by Signet
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 432
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

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 was like a really bad soap opera that pulls you in and doesn’t spit you out until the last page. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a romance, though there are definitely romantic elements between Lane and Lizzie. There are varying points of view as there always are in Ward’s book. I didn’t plan on reading this book (I never do plan on reading Ward’s books), but I was helpless to stop myself. Intervention, please! I’m glad I did read it because it did show me another facet to her writing.

Lane Baldwine has no intention of ever returning to the Easterly estate. Having left two years ago after losing the woman he loved, only one thing could bring him back–the woman that raised him. It took no more than three words “Your momma’s sick” for Lane to drop everything and rush back to the home he grew up in, the home he hates. Everything is exactly as it always has been. Betrayal, secrets, and lies. The only thing that has stayed the same is Lizzie Smith, Easterly’s head gardener. Lizzie is the only person that has ever seen Lane as he truly is and that is one of the many reasons that he has never forgotten her.

It doesn’t take Lane long to realize that his family’s billion dollar legacy is in trouble. The bourbon that carries their family name and is known around the world is in jeopardy of going under and Lane is determined to find out why. To do that, he needs his older brother’s help. There is no one that wants to help less than Edward. After getting kidnapped in South America and held for ransom, Edward hates their father with a passion that surpasses a million suns. When Lane comes calling and tells him what’s happening, Edward offers his help for no other reason to bring their father down.

In the meantime, their sister Gin has her own problems. Her father has arranged a marriage to a man that is horrid. Literally the worst character in the book by far. At first she fights in, but then she realizes that to live the life she is accustomed to, she has no choice in the matter. I really lost respect for her when she decided to marry such an asshole, but I respected her for admitting to herself why she did what she did.

Lane and Lizzie in the meantime have rekindled their romance, but they are still in the same boat. Lane is the crown prince of Easterly and Lizzie is the hired help. Where can their relationship go? Not to mention that Lane is in the middle of a messy divorce (yes, he’s married though he hasn’t seen her for two years).

This was definitely more fiction than romance. Good fiction though. Fiction that you’ll want to read. I tried to read it about a year ago when it first came out, but I didn’t give it a fair shot because, well, it was J.R. Ward. I wasn’t going to let her suck me into yet another one of her series. Damned if I didn’t let that happen.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

Posted July 27, 2015 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. WardReviewer: Chrystal
The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Also in this series: The Bourbon Kings, The Angels' Share, Devil's Cut (The Bourbon Kings, #3)
Published by Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: July 28th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 434
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
five-stars

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.

J.R. Ward is known for writing paranormal novels set in worlds that are all their own, and she is good at it. So when I first picked up The Bourbon Kings, I was a little skeptical. It’s a contemporary romance set on a Kentucky Bourbon Makers property. I never in a million years thought I would enjoy a book so much!

Bradford Bourbon Company (BBC) is the largest and most successful Bourbon distillery this side of the Mason-Dixon line. And when you’re a member of Kentucky’s most successful bourbon family, well things can get a little crazy. Lane Baldwine is the second eldest son of William Baldwine and Virginia Bradford Baldwine. After getting a call that “his mama” was dying, Lane drops everything to fly to a home he hadn’t been to in two years. That’s where he runs into Lizzy King, his family’s head horticulturalist and his former lover. But she’s not the only female he runs into. Chantal Baldwine, Lane’s wife, is also there.

When money and liquor are involved drama is bound to happen.

Lane’s father gets the most joy when he sees his children suffer. Lane’s mother, Virginia, is heavily medicated and bed ridden. Lane’s siblings are no better. Edward, the eldest, is a recluse and a physical and mental mess after surviving a horrific kidnapping in South America. Virginia (Gin) has so many self-esteem and daddy issues, she sleeps with anything that has a cock. Maxwell, the youngest of the Baldwine boys, has gone off the grid, and no one knows where to find him. After some sketchy moves by Lane’s father, Lane and Edward discover the giant skeleton in the family closet. Lanes father has financially ruined the family. He was running the BBC into the ground.

After having his wretched wife served divorce papers, Lane tries to rekindle the romance he let go two years before with Lizzy.
Lane will do whatever it takes to win Lizzy back and save his family legacy.

In short, this family is a hot mess; a hot sexy mess that you can’t wait to dive into.

Ward’s many-faceted characters are so well written. They’re easy to relate to. I found myself thinking many times ‘I know someone like that’.  I wanted to be friends with Lane and Lizzy. Shoot, I wanted to be them! Even Chantal Baldwine, by the end of the book,I almost felt pity for. I could see her misery and a part of me wanted to pity her and try to understand why she is the way she is. I felt their pain as they experienced it, and wanted to yell at them when they were being idiotic. Ward has a knack for writing her characters to feel so real, so alive. I love that about her work.

My favorite character though, is Gin. She’s fantastic! She isn’t perfect. She has real insecurities, real issues. She’ll give up everything, even herself, to save her family. I felt like I knew what she is going through. Almost as if I’d walked in her shoes.

We have yet to meet Max, and I’m still holding out hope for Virginia coming around to help pick up the pieces of her broken family.
It wouldn’t be a J.R. Ward novel without the wonderful pop culture references that remind us what time period we are in. And as she mentions many times, this is a modern day Sabrina, without the happy ending.

I love how the world she builds is tangible. As a reader, I felt as though I could buy a plane ticket and travel to these places and be there with the characters, in the moment.

By the time I finished The Bourbon Kings, I wanted to go to the store just to see if I could find a bottle of Bradford Bourbon Company’s No. 15. J.R. Ward brought fantasy to reality with The Bourbon Kings. I would have to say this is possibly the best book she has written. I can’t wait for the next one!

5 out of 5

five-stars


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