Monday, July 18, 2016

Review & Excerpt: The Angels' Share by J.R. Ward

Publication Link: July 26th 2016 by NAL
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
About the book:

#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?

Arlene’s Thoughts:

Death, debt and disorder…

The second installment of The Bourbon Kings picks up right where the series premier left off, and The Angels’ Share does not disappoint. J.R. Ward has definitely kept up the cadence of this series that is packed with tons of drama and plenty of intrigue.

As the story continues, the Bradford family is in complete disarray after the suicide of their patriarch, but as evidence comes to light and the full scope of the state of the family business is unraveled, the death of William Wyatt Baldwine suddenly becomes a murder investigation. Unfortunately, the middle son Lane is left to pick up the pieces and attempt to salvage what is left of the family’s bourbon empire.

Overall, I have to say I was glued to the pages of this novel. I truly enjoyed watching Lane and Lizzie’s steady romance remain strong throughout the story. There was so much chaos happening with the parallel storylines that is was nice to fall back on these main characters and see them persevere during a time of upheaval.

I enjoyed getting to know a few of the secondary characters a bit more, especially Samuel T., Mack and Shelby. They each carry their own storyline worthy of more airtime. I’m eager to see where Ward decides to take these characters in the next round.

As in the first novel, I felt sorry for Gin for many reasons. She is definitely the epitome of a broken character that deserves sympathy.  However, I have to commend her actions in the final chapters that prove she can be a force to be reckoned with. I truly hope she continues to find her footing and become a stronger character in the end.

Overall, I enjoyed this second installment, and I can’t wait to see where J.R. Ward takes us next. She’s definitely positioned the storyline to welcome more drama and chaos. Exciting!
4 Suns

Rachel’s Thoughts:
*********Spoilers if you haven’t read the first book**********
The Baldwin’s are definitely going through the ringer thanks to their horrid dad, William Baldwin! It’s a trial by fire, and we’re getting to see what each character is really made of.  Last we left off in The Bourbon Kings, William (Lane, Edward, Gin, and Max’s father) turned up dead, and Lane discovered the family’s finances were severely depleted.  I had thought The Angel’s Share would be mainly Edward and Sutton’s book since Lizzie and Lane’s romance is pretty much settled, but that was not the case. I think Lane and Lizzie are still the center of this series, dealing with the financial woes and death of William, trying to keep the family and business afloat.  But Edward, Sutton, Gin, and Samuel T, and Mack each have POV’s, and like the first book all these players have a significant role in the story. 

Lane and Lizzie presented a united front, and I loved them together! Lane took the lead in trying to salvage the Bradford Bourbon business and figure out where all the money went.  Lizzie steps up and helps organize the household and every day matters, while giving much needed support to Lane.  Whether William committed suicide or died in some other way becomes more of a problem as the story goes on and there are a few revelations that impact the family greatly!

I didn’t expect to enjoy this installment as much as I did because I was worried there was a love triangle brewing between Edward, Sutton and Shelby.  I also hate reading stories where one couple should be together (Edward and Sutton, IMO), and you’re pretty sure they will be together by the end, but then a large page count is devoted to the love interest being with someone else. In this case, I was worried there would be too much time spent with Edward and Shelby having hookups and whatnot. I won’t say what happens, but I shouldn’t have worried. That’s not saying that J.R. Ward isn’t putting her characters through some hard times, though. It’s hard to write this without spoiling anything, but I’m anxious for the next installment! How could you leave things like that, Ms. Ward?!! Ack! Please, don’t leave it like that!

Gin continues on with her plan to marry that wretched Richard Pford, seeing him as the only way to financial security.  I wasn’t especially fond of Gin in the first book, because she had so much given to her: money, education and definitely connections, yet she thought a marriage to a complete horror of a man as her only solution! She was such a snob, too! By the end I had some hope, though, that Gin is turning a corner, both personally and with her daughter.  As for Gin and Samuel T., who knows how that will turn out once everything comes out. They were definitely less hateful towards each other in this installment, but I think Samuel (Highlight for spoiler) will have a hard time forgiving Gin for not telling him the truth about Amelia (End of spoiler).

As a side note, if it’s been a while since you read the first book and have trouble remembering all characters and their roles fear not, because there is a “Dramatis Personae”, a who’s who in the beginning of the book to sort everyone out.  Very helpful!

J.R. Ward weaved a riveting, and addictive tale with The Angel’s Share, and now I’m dying to get my hands on the next book! Do I really have to wait a whole year?! I hope not!
4.5 Suns

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,, and

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