The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward – Dual Review, Excerpt & Giveaway
The Angels’ Share
Bourbon Kings series – Book #2
by J.R. Ward
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM / The Book Depository
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?
Warning: If you have not read the first book in this series, there may be spoilers.
Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward is the 2nd book in her Bourbon Kings series. Angels’ Share begins where The Bourbon Kings left off; William Baldwine, the Bradford/Baldwine family patriarch, is dead, having committed suicide. As the family prepares for the funeral, there is no sadness, nor mourning, since he was an evil man, whom just about everyone hated. Lane and Lizzie continue to be the center focus point of this story.
Lane is out of his element, with the family and their Bourbon business facing financial ruin due to their father’s staggering hidden dealings. Lizzie will step up and take control of the house, the staff and do what she can to give Lane the support he needs. I really do love them together.
Lane will bring in his college roommate to help in trying to decipher the financial mess, as well as helping him take control of the business. Angels’ Share continues to be an intense family saga, with the return of most of the main characters we have come to know from the first book. There are a few twists, and everything changes early on when murder is suspected, which will add the element of mystery to the story.
What makes Angels’ Share so good is the complex characters Ward has created, not to mention all the secrets, lies, deceit, as well as romance throughout the book. As much as I love Lane and Lizzie, I also love Edward, who has suffered so much because of his despicable father. Edward is damaged both physically and mentally, but he remains loyal to his family, even if he wants nothing to do with the business or family affairs. He continues to keep his distance from the mansion, as he lives on a ranch. But we cannot help see how he is hurting, especially in his love of Sutton; but Edward feels that he is not the man he used to be and is not worthy of her. I so want them to find a way to make it together and Edward to somehow get strong again. Will this happen? At this time, the chances are very slim, especially after the ending.
Again, Ward has created a fabulous cast of characters: Gin, the snobbish sister, who slowly might be changing for the better; Samuel, the lawyer, who loves Gin, but thinks she is too spoiled to trust her with his heart; Miss Aurora, the woman who brought them up, whom they all look at as their true mother; Sutton, she is the strong successful independent woman, who I pray will save Edward; Chantal, the ex-wife, good riddance; Max, the missing brother who returns home, and I cannot wait to find out more; Amelia, Gin’s daughter also returns home, and I would love to know about her too.
Angels’ Share is a wonderful continuation to this family saga of a wealthy successful family facing ruin, in more ways than one. The story is well written, with many surprises, intrigue and the romance between Lane and Lizzie has gotten even better. We watch as the family members grow as their lives change, and a bond begins to bring them closer as disaster threatens. I cannot wait for the next book to come out. If you enjoy family saga stories, you need to read this, as J.R. Ward is writing an addicting series.
THE ANGEL’S SHARE is the second installment in J.R. Ward’s adult, contemporary, dramatic series focusing on the uber rich Bradford/Baldwine family of Charlemont, Kentucky- a bourbon dynasty family whose beautiful façade hides many dark and dangerous secrets. Although no one particular couple is the star THE ANGEL’S SHARE is an ensemble story line that looks at the aftermath from the apparent suicide of the Baldwine patriarch, and the investigation into millions of dollars in missing money.
Told from several third person points of view including Baldwine/Bradford siblings Lane, Edward and Gin, THE ANGEL’S SHARE focuses on the search for the truth behind the apparent suicide of William Wyatt Baldwine-the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company. The resulting death slowly reveals the dark secrets, lies, betrayals and illegitimate heirs of a man beloved by no one, despised by all. Edward, as the eldest son has been broken by his father-destroyed in body and soul by a man with a black heart and a darker soul; Lane is the man who will struggle to keep the family heritage up and running; Gin is a woman who has given up and is willing to risk her life to save her family. Deals will be made, secrets will be revealed, lives will be destroyed in the process. THE ANGEL’S SHARE is not a story of romance but of a family, passionate in their beliefs, who are struggling to gain some semblance of control over their business and their lives.
The Bourbon Kings is a modern day story akin to the 1980s Dallas and Dynasty-the uber rich families, their friends and the hidden secrets locked behind closed doors, addiction and lies. Death is an escape from the mayhem; to love is a struggle met with misunderstanding and betrayal. Once again, romance took a back seat to the family drama and investigation, and to the impending collapse of the bourbon dynasty. J.R. Ward writes an amazing tale of betrayal, struggle and loss for one family whose lives have imploded beneath a mountain of secrets and lies.
Toyota trucks were not supposed to go seventy-five miles an hour. Especially when they were ten years old.
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.
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.
J.R. and her publisher are graciously offering a hardcover copy of THE ANGELS’ SHARE to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe
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