Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Get ready for summer’s most sinful indulgence: Bourbon Kings


A Thrilling New Series From THE #1 New York Times BestsELLER J.R WARD

Empire meets Downton Abbey, Set in Kentucky’s Bourbon Country




A transplanted Kentuckian, #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward found literary inspiration in the lush bluegrass state she now calls home.  Set in the land of Derby brunches, competitive horse breeding, and fine bourbon, THE BOURBON KINGS (New American Library; July 28, 2015; $27.95) is the first book in Ward’s new contemporary series that will appeal to readers of Danielle Steele and Penny Vincenzi, and fans of Empire, Scandal, and Downton Abbey.

THE BOURBON KINGS is an epic family saga centered on the Bradfords, an aristocratic family who made their fortune in the bourbon industry. Ward has created an indelible cast of characters whose lives intersect through a page-turning mix of dark family secrets, high stakes business deals and double crossings, and delicious bad behavior. 

The Bradford Bourbon Company has produced superior bourbon for generations, and the family’s vast wealth proves it.  One of Kentucky’s first families, the Bradfords are at the center of high society.  They indulge in every luxury—private jets, fleets of expensive cars, lavish Derby celebrations, priceless jewelry—and their every need is taken care of by an extensive household staff.  But there’s more to the life of luxury at Easterly than meets the eye, and the return of a prodigal son is about to bring everything to a tumultuous head.

Jonathan Tulane “Lane” Baldwine vowed he would never return to Easterly after he fled to New York City two years ago.  His hatred for his father and the loss of the love of his life has kept him away. But now he’s returning home to see the ailing Miss Aurora—the woman he considers his true mother—and he’s bringing the past with him.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head horticulturist, the news of Lane’s return is a stunning blow.  Two years ago, she and Lane fell madly in love in spite of their very different backgrounds.  She was devastated to learn of Lane’s engagement to society belle Chantal Stowe the morning after he told Lizzie he loved her. Believing that Lane was using his engagement and impending marriage to hide his relationship with her, Lizzie broke away.  Not long after, Lane left town…without saying a word. 

Edward Westfork Bradford Baldwine is a ruined shell of a man.  The oldest son of William and Virginia, he was once the golden boy destined to take over the family business. But after he was abducted, tortured, and held for ransom during a business trip to South America, he’s emotionally and physically broken.  His only comfort comes from a bottle and his memories of the beautiful and intelligent woman he loves—a woman who runs his family’s fiercest rival.

The youngest and only daughter, Virginia Elizabeth (aka Gin), is a wild child who, now in her early 30s, is trying to find herself.  She’s been in love with Samuel T. Lodge, an attorney and one of Lane’s best friends, since she was a teenager.  He’s the only man she’s ever truly loved and he’s the only man she can never truly have—Gin has kept a secret from him that would change their relationship forever. 

Over the course of Derby weekend, Lane reignites his relationship with Lizzie and discovers that the tightly-controlled Bradford image is showing cracks.  Patriarch William Baldwine is as ruthless and dishonest as ever—having exiled his troubled wife to her bedroom where she’s kept in a medically-induced fugue state, William has complete financial control.  Family, more than ever, can’t be trusted and rumors abound about a production stoppage on the company’s prized bourbon.  When Lane discovers someone is embezzling millions of dollars from the Bradford family, he’s determined to find the perpetrator and bring him down.

Filled with the complicated characters, juicy interconnected storylines, and wickedly sharp writing readers have come to expect from J.R. Ward, THE BOURBON KINGS is a can’t put it down ride that modernizes the family saga and transplants the soapy thrills of Empire and Scandal to the rolling hills of Kentucky.

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Review by pearls
5 Stars across the board.  JR Ward takes an upclose look at a dysfunctional family that should have it all, but is rotting behind the façade of old money.  The characters are complex and the storyline reveals their history like a the slow burn of good bourbon.  I quickly became engrossed and could not put this novel down.  The human flaws found in this cosmetically perfect family make us all feel more secure in our average families.  Yet it is their flaws that make them approachable to the reader despite their vast wealth. 

“The drama never stops in this tale of family secrets, lost love found, rivalries, delightfully nasty villains and deliciously appealing heroes. The clothes, the whiskey, and the gorgeous Kentucky backdrop will sweep you away. The privileged and the downtrodden never had it so good. Put on your derby hat and join in the fun.” —*New York Times bestselling author SUSAN WIGGS

William Baldwine – Patriarch of the Bradford-Baldwine family and currently running the Bradford Bourbon Company. Married into the Bradford family and rose quickly to the top of the company. A powerful and ruthless man with many dark secrets.
Virginia Elizabeth Bradford “Baldwine” – Wife of William Baldwine.  Inherited from her father the Bradford Bourbon Company, family fortune, and all the Bradford properties, including Easterly and the Red & Black Stables. In a medicated fugue state for the last several years. William had her declared mentally incompetent, leaving him in charge of all of the family’s money.
Jonathan Tulane Baldwine – Nicknamed Lane. The prodigal son of William Baldwine and Virginia Bradford. Fled Easterly two years ago, leaving his estranged wife Chantal behind. Lizzie King is his soul mate and the love of his life.
Edward Westfork Bradford Baldwine – Oldest son of William Baldwine and Virginia Bradford, he was an increasing rarity in the Bradford family—a true distiller and a man who once valued the bourbon his family produced. The golden boy once destined to take over the family business before he was kidnapped, tortured, and held for ransom during a business trip in South America.  Now a physically and emotionally broken man who breeds champion racehorses. Only his thoughts of Sutton Smythe kept him alive during his abduction. 
Virginia Elizabeth Baldwine – Nicknamed Gin. Thirty-four-year-old daughter of William Baldwine and Virginia Bradford. Strong-willed and wild, she parties, spends money and bed-hops.
Maxwell Baldwine – Middle son of William Baldwine and Virginia Bradford. Left Easterly years ago, and no one knows where he lives or how to contact him.
Chantal Blair Stowe Baldwine – Lane’s estranged wife who lives at Easterly.  A tiger disguised as a kitty cat.  Scheming and dishonest but with the perfect modern southern belle surface.  Holds many Bradford family secrets.
Samuel Theodore “T” Lodge III – An attorney and one of Lane’s best friends.  Handsome, well-respected, and a bit of a ladies man. Has had a complicated relationship with Lane’s sister Gin for many years. 
Sutton Smythe – Heir to the Smythe Distillery fortune. Her family business is the chief competitor/rival of the Bradford Bourbon Company.  A smart, beautiful, and powerful woman in love with one of her family’s “enemies.”
Richard Pford IV – Sole heir to the Pford Liquor and Spirits Distributors. Desperate to marry Gin, he’s prepared to trade favors with the Bradford Bourbon Company for the privilege.
Jeff Stern – Lane’s good friend who lives in New York City.  A financial whiz, Lane calls upon his help when he begins to suspect someone is embezzling money from the company 
Lizzie King – Head horticulturist at Easterly, the Bradford Family Estate.  An intense—and unexpectedly broken-off—affair with Lane two years ago has left her focused on work and determined to avoid love. 
Miss Aurora Toms – The family’s 65-year-old cook and the woman who essentially raised the Bradford children. Lane considers Miss Aurora his true mother and returns to Easterly only upon hearing of a decline in her health. 
Rosalinda Freeland – Easterly’s controller. Oversees all of Easterly’s bills and finances. Carries a terrible secret about William Baldwine.
Mr. Newark Harris – Easterly’s butler. Throwback to the centuries-old tradition of the proper English servant.  Born and trained in London, he served as a footman for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Place and then as a butler for Prince Edward. Officious, unyielding, and obsequious.
Beatrix Mollie – Head of housekeeping at Easterly.
Edwin “Mack” MacAllan – Master distiller for the Bradford Bourbon Company. His father had been the master distiller before him, and he’s currently the youngest master in the history of bourbon production in the state. Dedicated to his craft but troubled by recent company developments.
Jeb Landis – Recently deceased. Legend in the horseracing industry, and the trainer of more stakes winners than anyone.  An alcoholic and a gambler, he helped Edward come back to life after his abduction. 
Shelby Landis – Jeb’s 22-year-old daughter. Seeks Edward out after her father dies, looking for a job working horses. 
Deputy Sheriff Mitchell Ramsey – Charlemont lawman, friend of Lane’s, and the person who brought Edward back to the States after his abduction.
Gary McAdams – Head groundsman at Easterly. He’s sixty-two-years-old and protective of Lizzie.
Greta von Schlieber – Lizzie’s older counterpart in the gardens at Easterly. Wealthy woman who loves the work.  Protective of Lizzie, and doesn’t want to see her hurt by Lane again.
Moe Brown – Stable manager at Red & Black Stables. Can tell a horse’s future from the moment the animal stands after it’s born.



Kentucky Facts & Trivia


v  The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously held horse race in the country. It is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville on the first Saturday in May.


v  Thunder Over Louisville is the opening ceremony for the Kentucky Derby Festival and is the world's largest fireworks display.


v  The Bluegrass Country around Lexington is home to some of the world's finest racehorses.


v  The great Man o' War won all of his horse races except one which he lost to a horse named Upset.


v  Bluegrass is not really blue—it’s green—but in the spring bluegrass produces bluish purple buds that when seen in large fields give a blue cast to the grass. Today Kentucky is known as the Bluegrass State.


v  Legend has it that the inspiration for Stephen Foster's hymn-like song "My Old Kentucky Home" was written in 1852 after an unverified trip to visit relatives in Kentucky.


v  Kentucky was the 15th state to join the Union and the first on the western frontier.


v  Kentucky is the state where both Abraham Lincoln, President of the Union, and Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, were born. They were born less than one hundred miles and one year apart.


v  More than 100 native Kentuckians have been elected governors of other states.


v  More than $6 billion worth of gold is held in the underground vaults of Fort Knox. This is the largest amount of gold stored anywhere in the world.


v  Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave and was first promoted in 1816, making it the second oldest tourist attraction in the United States. Niagara Falls, New York is first.


v  Christian County is wet while Bourbon County is dry. Barren County has the most fertile land in the state.

v  Daniel Boone and his wife Rebecca are buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. Their son Isaac is buried at Blue Licks Battlefield near Carlisle, where he was killed in the last battle of the Revolutionary War fought in Kentucky.

v  The song "Happy Birthday to You" was the creation of two Louisville sisters in 1893.                      


Thanks to: Kentucky Department of Travel, John D. Dowd, Mandy Paige, DeLores Wiggins, Wayne Shelton, David Grossman, Cleamon Inman, Jody Odonnell

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author
J.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with more than 15 million novels in print published in 25 different countries around the world.  A graduate of Smith College, she currently lives in Kentucky where she has learned to enjoy and appreciate all things Southern.  Prior to becoming an expat Yankee, she worked as a lawyer in Boston and spent many years as the Chief of Staff of one of Harvard’s world-renowned academic medical centers. 
Ward has always had a passion for writing.  After a decade of drafting stories in her spare time, she became a full-time novelist, and her first published novel, Leaping Hearts, was released in 2002.  Under the name Jessica Bird she wrote nine contemporary romances, and then got the idea for a darker, sexier series with paranormal elements, featuring a group of warrior vampires.  The Black Dagger Brotherhood was born.
The reader reaction to the series was immediate, spectacular and obsessive.  The fourth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Revealed, hit the New York Times mass market fiction bestseller list and since then, Ward’s novels have held the #1 spot on the New York Times hardcover, mass market, eBook, and combined print/eBook fiction bestseller lists and have debuted in the top 5 on the USA Today bestseller list.
This summer Ward introduces a new contemporary series set in her adopted home state of Kentucky with the novel The Bourbon Kings.  The series will follow the intertwined and scandalous fortunes of several ultrawealthy Kentucky families who have made their fortunes from bourbon.
J.R. Ward lives with her husband, daughter and their beloved golden retriever, as well as many other dogs, in Kentucky.  Visit her popular website and fan community at www.jrward.com and facebook.com/JRWardBooks.

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