Title: The Angels' Share
Series: The Bourbon Kings
Author: J.R. Ward
Release Date: July 26, 2016!
SYNOPSIS:#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?PURCHASE HERE:
JR Ward set the stage for this soap opera style Southern saga in The Bourbon Kings where she introduced this vast ensemble surrounding the country's oldest bourbon company. The barbed bonds between the Baldwine siblings and their parents dripped of both wealth and deceit, privilege and venom. Behind the opulent walls of Easterly Estate are secrets, lies, betrayal and infidelity. The Bourbon Kings framed the backdrop of this storyline, illustrating the lavish lifestyle of the elite Baldwine family, but The Angels' Share is a gritty closer look into the state of the family as they're faced with losing everything. In this decadent sequel, Ward thrusts the reader deeper into Lane Baldwine's life, into his romance with Lizzie, into his search for answers after the jaw-dropping ending of The Bourbon Kings. As The Angels' Share evolved, I found myself completely consumed by, not only Lane's evolving romance, his search for answers and his tireless efforts at salvaging the family legacy, but with every character in this book and their side stories. Every single player, every Baldwine sibling, every family friend, every long lost love, every new and old BBC employee has a fully fleshed out personality, a captivating story of their own, and each of them adds depth to an already complex storyline. I continue to be blown away by the manner in which Ward delivers such a richly intricate storyline with such a lengthy cast of characters.
This series is the perfect mix of decadence, sex, murder, romance and scandal and The Angels' Share not only lives up to every expectation I had after devouring The Bourbon Kings, but it surpassed them. This addictive family saga had me turning the pages with vigor. This series reads like a movie, like a television serial that'll have you obsessed. I couldn't wait to see how this story played out but at the same time, I wanted to read it slowly, to savor each page.
The cast of characters in this series is colorful and the secrets and lies that bind them are extraordinarily messy. Peppered with longing, anger and shocking revelations at every turn, The Angels' Share packs so much within its pages. With its moments of tenderness, humor, heartfelt emotion, edge of your seat suspense, and raw sex appeal, this story is the perfect package. The Angels' Share made me laugh, made my eyes well up with unexpected tears, had me white knuckled as I gripped the pages, dreading what would come next. I did not want this book to end. I was lost in Charlemonte, Kentucky, lost in the Easterly mansion, lost in the wicked web of sex and drama and fragmented relationships and long lost loves.
This is the PERFECT summer read. Curl up in your porch swing with a glass of bourbon-spiked sweet tea and GET LOST in this divine story. Prepare to step into another world with The Bourbon Kings series. A world of southern charm and old money. A world where everyone is polite and well mannered even when they're discussing murder and infidelity, betrayal and bankruptcy. A lavish world of mystery and deceit. A world of longing for loves lost. A world where the rich sip bourbon and marry for financial security. A world where butlers and staff don't make eye contact unless addressed. A world where secrets are revealed as rapidly and unexpectedly as long lost relatives reappear from the woodwork. A world where the grown children of this wickedly wealthy household hold more affection for the cook, Miss Aurora, than their own parents, and where they'd rather eat soul food in the staff quarters than rub shoulders with the elite out on the vast estate lawn. This world is lush and tumultuous and sexy and repugnant and swathed in southern drawls and lies and sweet tea and I. NEVER. WANTED. TO. LEAVE. This is a provocative world, a world JR Ward crafts so superbly, so exquisitely, so thoroughly, I was immersed. I was consumed. I am addicted.
At least the driver was wide awake, even though it was four a.m.
Lizzie King had a death grip on the steering wheel, and her foot on the accelerator was actually catching floor as she headed for a rise in the highway.
She had woken up in her bed at her farmhouse alone. Ordinarily, that would have been the status quo, but not anymore, not now that Lane was back in her life. The wealthy playboy and the estate’s gardener had finally gotten their act together, love bonding two unlikelies closer and stronger than the molecules of a diamond.
And she was going to stand by him, no matter what the future held.
After all, it was so much easier to give up extraordinary wealth when you had never known it, never aspired to it—and especially when you had seen behind its glittering curtain to the sad, desolate desert on the far side of the glamour and prestige.
God, the stress Lane was under.
And so out of bed she had gotten. Down the creaking stairs she had gone. And all around her little house’s first floor she had wandered.
When Lizzie had looked outside, she’d discovered his car was missing, the Porsche he drove and parked beside the maple by her front porch nowhere to be seen. And as she had wondered why he had left without telling her, she had begun to worry.
Just a matter of nights since his father had killed himself, only a matter of days since William Baldwine’s body had been found on the far side of the Falls of the Ohio. And ever since then Lane’s face had had a faraway look, his mind churning always with the missing money, the divorce papers he had served on the rapacious Chantal, the status of the household bills, the precarious situation at the Bradford Bourbon Company, his brother Edward’s terrible physical condition, Miss Aurora’s illness.
But he hadn’t said a thing about any of it. His insomnia had been the only sign of the pressure, and that was what scared her. Lane always made an effort to be composed around her, asking her about her work in Easterly’s gardens, rubbing her bad shoulder, making her dinner, usually badly, but who cared. Ever since they had gotten the air cleared between them and had fully recommitted to their relationship, he had all but moved into her farmhouse—and as much as she loved having him with her, she had been waiting for the implosion to occur.
It would almost have been easier if he had been ranting and raving.
And now she feared that time had come—and some sixth sense made her terrified about where he had gone. Easterly, the Bradford Family Estate, was the first place she thought of. Or maybe the Old Site, where his family’s bourbon was still made and stored. Or perhaps Miss Aurora’s Baptist church?
Yes, Lizzie had tried him on his phone. And when the thing had rung on the table on his side of the bed, she hadn’t waited any longer after that. Clothes on. Keys in hand. Out to the truck.
No one else was on I-64 as she headed for the bridge to get across the river, and she kept the gas on even as she crested the hill and hit the decline to the river’s edge on the Indiana side. In response, her old truck picked up even more speed along with a death rattle that shook the wheel and the seat, but the damn Toyota was going to hold it together because she needed it to.
“Lane . . . where are you?”
God, all the times she had asked him how he was and he’d said, “Fine.” All those opportunities to talk that he hadn’t taken her up on. All the glances she’d shot him when he hadn’t been looking her way, all the time her monitoring for signs of cracking or strain. And yet there had been little to no emotion after that one moment they’d had together in the garden, that private, sacred moment when she had sought him out under the blooms of the fruit trees and told him that she’d gotten it wrong about him, that she had misjudged him, that she was prepared to make a pledge to him with the only thing she had: the deed to her farmhouse—which was exactly the kind of asset that could be sold to help pay for the lawyers’ fees as he fought to save his family.
Lane had held her, and told her he loved her—and refused her gift, explaining he was going to fix everything himself, that he was going to somehow find the stolen money, pay back the enormous debt, right the company, resurrect his family’s fortunes.
And she had believed him.
She still did.
But ever since then? He had been both as warm and closed off as a space heater, physically present and completely disengaged at the same time.
Lizzie did not blame him in the slightest.
It was strangely terrifying, however.
Off in the distance, across the river, Charlemont’s business district glowed and twinkled, a false, earthbound galaxy that was a lovely lie, and the bridge that connected the two shores was still lit up in spring green and bright pink for Derby, a preppy rainbow to that promised land. The good news was that there was no traffic, so as soon as Lizzie was on the other side, she could take the River Road exit off the highway, shoot north to Easterly’s hill, and see if his car was parked in front of the mansion.
Then she didn’t know what she was going to do.
The newly constructed bridge had three lanes going in both directions, the concrete median separating east from west tall and broad for safety purposes. There were rows of white lights down the middle, and everything was shiny, not just from the illumination, but a lack of exposure to the elements. Construction had only finished in March, and the first lines of traffic had made the crossing in early April, cutting rush-hour delays down—
Up ahead, parked in what was actually the “slow” lane, was a vehicle that her brain recognized before her eyes properly focused on it.
Lane’s Porsche. It was Lane’s—
Lizzie nailed the brake pedal harder than she’d been pounding the accelerator, and the truck made the transition from full-force forward to full-on stop with the grace of a sofa falling out a second-story window: Everything shuddered and shook, on the verge of structural disintegration, and worse, there was barely any change in velocity, as if her Toyota had worked too hard to gain the speed and wasn’t going to let the momentum go without a fight—
There was a figure on the edge of the bridge. On the very farthest edge of the bridge. On the lip of the bridge over the deadly drop.
“Lane,” she screamed. “Lane!”
Her truck went into a spin, pirouetting such that she had to wrench her head around to keep him in her sights. And she jumped out before the Toyota came to a full stop, leaving the gearshift in neutral, the engine running, the door open in her wake.
“Lane! No! Lane!”
Lizzie pounded across the pavement and surmounted barriers that seemed flimsy, too flimsy, given the distance down to the river.
Lane jerked his head around—
And lost one hold of the rail behind him.
As his grip slipped, shock registered on his face, a flash of surprise . . . that was immediately replaced by horror.
When he fell off into nothing but air.
Lizzie’s mouth could not open wide enough to release her scream.
Posted by arrangement with New American Library, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © J.R. Ward, 2016.
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. The books in her popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series 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. Prior to her writing career, Ward 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 currently lives with her family in Kentucky where she has learned to enjoy and appreciate all things Southern. Connect with her online at www.jrward.com, Facebook.com/JRWardBooks, and Twitter.com/JRWard1.