devil’s cut, by j. r. ward

Fans of the wildly successful Bourbon Kings have been waiting a year for the final installment in this captivating trilogy. The anticipation was quelled a little over two weeks ago when Devil’s Cut was released to well-deserved praise. Readers will easily be drawn back into the world of the rich, powerful, and incredibly dysfunctional. There were so many loose ends to tie up:

  • Edward was in jail for killing his father, William Baldwine
  • Sutton had been banished from Edward’s life and was stepping into the role of CEO of Bradford’s rival in the world of Kentucky bourbon
  • Chantal was pregnant with her recently murdered fathers-in-law baby
  • Lane had blackmailed his best friend into becoming CEO of Bradford Bourbon Company (BBC), while reconnecting with the love of his life Lizzie
  • Miss Aurora has succumbed to a coma as a result of her rapidly spreading cancer, complicated by her age and sickle-cell
  • Let’s not forget Gin’s marriage made in Hell to Richard Pford, in spite of her heart belonging to Samuel T., who we found out is Amelia’s father
  • And why has the black sheep of the family, Max, come home?

Rest assured, Ward delivered in bringing resolution to all outstanding cliffhangers–except for why that finger was buried in the yard? If anyone comes across the reason for that, please let me know. On the whole, this finale to the series was just as enthralling as the first 2 books and I for one am sad to see the series end. (Though rumor has it NBC has purchased the rights to make it a tv series. Fingers crossed on that one–pun intended.)

There are twists and turns a plenty in the book, with threads of humor, and Ward’s classic style of keeping you on the edge of every chapter by alternating story arcs throughout. In the end, the result is a cohesive tale that holds true to the essence of all of the characters we’ve come to love and hate, and some whose opinion may even swing from one side to the other.

I have to admit that I loved this series far more than I thought I would and found myself anxiously awaiting each book. A child of the 80’s, I was a huge fan of Dynasty, Knots Landing, and the original Dallas so this plot line was right up my alley. You see that money can’t buy peace of mind and certainly not morals. It also doesn’t shield anyone from hurt, feelings of inadequacy, mental or physical abuse. I guess the rich really are just like “us.”

It goes without saying to make sure to get your hands on this book as quickly as possible so your friends don’t start revealing spoilers. While a year can sometimes seem like forever when it comes to books, the wait was definitely worth it in this case.

 

the angel’s share, by j. r. ward

angel's shareingredients:
Drama, suspense, and a little humor.

servings:
If you read The Bourbon Kings and loved Dynasty, Dallas, and the likes this will be up your alley.

rating:

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preparation:
I read The Bourbon Kings in 2 days. I didn’t think I was going to like it as much as I did, though I don’t know why. I was a huge Dynasty fan and loved Dallas by proxy of my mother. So, considering how The Bourbon Kings ended, I was anxious to read the continuing saga. And a saga it is.

It’s a well-known fact that if I don’t like any characters in a  book, odds are, I’m not going to like the book overall; and that was the case in this one. In the first book, I actually liked several of the characters–in this one, some that I liked in book 1, I grew to dislike in The Angel’s Share.

Lane turns into a serial black-mailer with questionable ethics. He, himself begins to fear he is turning into his father. The volatile relationship between Gin and Richard is disturbing on many levels. She is admittedly allowing him to beat and rape her, repeatedly, because she fears being poor. Edward, the shell of a man that he is, actually begins to show signs of life in this book–but only because of his impending fate–which is unfortunate.

The truly redeeming characters in this book are Lizzie, who is too good to be true. Miss Aurora is the embodiment of every stereotype of a black worker in the south employed by a rich family. Which leaves us with Samuel T., the only character who is truly fun and has embraced his flaws and those of the people around him, and finds the humor in all situations.

There is little to no resolution in this book from the events set in motion from book 1. It appears that book 3 (which there has to be) has the potential to tie up some of the loose ends that are currently hanging. By the end of this book, the cliché’s are in full effect. Predictable continues to be a theme and at this point, book 3 isn’t of interest to me, personally.

difficulty level:
Hard. This was a tough read for me because it was so obvious on so many levels. It’s not poorly written, but honestly, I don’t care about the Renoir’s hanging in the game room and the Aubusson rugs in the parlor. I know others love this series, I’m just not one of them.

the beast, by j. r. ward

the beastI admit I was not overly excited about yet another book about Rhage. He’s not my favorite character, but I guess Ward can’t always write about Wrath and Zsadist. But wait, why not…Ok, I digress. Anyway, boy was I in for a treat! The Beast far exceeded anything I was expecting.

Rhage and Mary have been going through a difficult period in their marriage—relatable and one of the things I love about Ward’s books. Even though they’re paranormal, her characters have challenges and struggles that we humans face every day and can identify with. But still, the plots carry you away and allow you an escape.

what went right…
While immortal, Mary is infertile, and like any couple who have had the ‘should we have kids’ conversation, it can be a tough one. You have a pretty clear indication early on where things are headed, but it doesn’t matter. Ward handles the entire storyline with real emotions and care.

We also see quite a bit of Assail, who has become another favorite of mine. Yes, as always, there are quite a few story arcs going on simultaneously, but again, she Ward toned this down to manageable and engaging plotlines. Assail’s interactions with Vishous are filled with humor and provide a source of comic entertainment throughout the book.

There’s some fighting with the Lessers but that is not the primary focus. This is less about the ongoing war and more about the intricate relationships that have been formed between different characters, including Layla and Xcor. Now THERE is a story. And what she discovers… And what happens to him…

the verdict…
Really, I can’t say enough good things about this book. Ward has done it, yet again! She’s been on a roll since The King and I can only hope it continues. The Beast is a must read for any Black Dagger Brotherhood fan.

rating:

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the bourbon kings, by j.r. ward

the bourbon kingsWow! I read this book in 2 days. I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. This is a new contemporary series by J. R. Ward that I heard is going to become a t.v. series–congrats to The Warden!

Ward describes The Bourbon Kings as a cross between Downton Abbey and Dynasty and that about nails it. Then again, she wrote the book, so she should know.

Lane Baldwine is from old money; old Kentucky bourbon money. Lizzie is the lead horticulturist for the family’s sprawling estate–Easterly. Two years ago, lies tore them apart and Lane fled to New York, not to return–until a family emergency brings him home. Now he’s back, just when Lizzie was almost over him.

There are more lies and secrets anew now that Lane has returned to Easterly. His older brother Edward, has distanced himself from the family after an awful life-altering tragedy. Gin, the only Baldwine daughter, is such a misguided self-preservationist that she sells her soul to the highest bidder. And then there’s William, the patriarch of the family, who is as cruel and ruthless as J.R. Ewing and shows no remorse for any of his actions.

Ward is a master of weaving multiple storylines together and she does so seamlessly in this tale. There’s intrigue and drama up to the very last page. The plot is well-written, though we do see a lot of cliché’s throughout its telling. And while there is some predictability, there is enough originality to keep the reader interested–not to mention all of the loose ends that are yet to be tied up.

Personally, I can’t wait for this story to come to the small screen. In the meantime, the next chapter in this hit series, The Angels’ Share, comes out on July 26.

rating:

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bloodkiss by j.r. ward

bloodkissThe Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) is one of my most favorite series ever. And, as evidenced by this blog, I don’t read a lot of paranormal series–2 if you’re counting.

Bloodkiss is a spinoff of the original BDB books. The story is focused on a younger generation of fighters but The Brothers are an integral part of the storyline. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Paradise and Craeg were introduced to us in the Warden’s (as J. R. Ward is affectionately known amongst her devotees) last BDB book, The Shadows. Paradise is the daughter of Abalone, adviser to Wrath. She was working as an administrative assistant to her father when last we saw her. She was interested in the training program The Brothers started to train civilians to be part of the fight against the Lessers. With her father’s approval, Paradise applied to the program and was accepted. And so was Craeg.

Craeg is your quintessential vampire from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s joining the training program for very personal reasons–revenge. But the chemistry between him and Paradise is a distraction that could derail his plans.

Bloodkiss is reminiscent of BDB books of old. The sub-plots aren’t overwhelming. You get the essence of The Brothers who are in the book, there’s humor, and there’s a real-world thread weaved in. The new adult genre is definitely benefiting from this addition to its shelves.

The Warden has set up the next book nicely and I look forward to continuing this series and enjoying characters old and new. But while we wait on the next installment in this new adventure, the release of the next book focused on The Brothers is closing in. The Beast will be here April 5th. True.

read rating: 3 bookmarks

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