Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Showcase - Review - Devil's Cut by J.R. Ward

Devil's Cut is the finale of Ward's, couldn't put it down, only books I have pre-ordered in AGES, Bourbon Kings trilogy. You also can't read them out of order.
I hope you enjoy my review of the audible edition!

Devil's Cut: A Bourbon Kings novel

Written by: J. R. Ward
Narrated by: Alexander Cendese
Length: 10 hrs and 37 mins
Series: Bourbon Kings, Book 3
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:08-01-17
Publisher: Random House Audio
Buy it: Audible

In New York Times best-selling author J. R. Ward's thrilling finale to her Bourbon Kings series, the Bradford family dynasty teeters on the edge of collapse after the murder of their patriarch - and a shocking arrest.
At first the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom...but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company's biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there's the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.
Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward's shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer - only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game changing.
As Lane rushes to discover the truth and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some this is good; for others it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing is for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

Excerpt courtesy Random House––
There was someone trespassing down in the garden.
In the lazy, hazy Southern night, beneath the flower–tasseled fruit trees, and between the saucer–sized tea roses and the squads of trimmed boxwood hedges, a figure was inside the ivy’d walls, moving over the brick paths, heading for the back of the mansion like a stalker.
Jonathan Tulane Baldwine squinted and leaned closer into his bedroom window. Whoever it was . . . they were in a crouch and sticking to the shadows, and the efficiency with which they chose their way suggested they knew what they were doing and where they were going. Then again, it wasn’t that hard to find a twenty–thousand–square–foot white birthday cake of a house in the dark.
Turning away from the wavy old glass, he looked to his bed. Lizzie King, the love of his life, was deeply asleep in the pillows, her blond hair gleaming in the moonlight, her tanned shoulder peeking out from the silk sheets.
Funny, these moments of clarity, he thought while he pulled on a pair of boxer shorts. As he considered who it might be, and came up with nothing good, he realized without a doubt that he would kill to protect his woman. Even though she could take care of herself, and he felt like he was relying on her now more than ever . . . if anybody tried to hurt her?
He would put them in a grave faster than his next heartbeat.
With that resolve, he went silently across the Oriental rug to an antique bureau that had been in his family since it had been made in the 1800s. His gun was in the top drawer on the left, under the rolls of finely woven socks he wore with his tuxedos. The nine millimeter was compact, but it had a laser sight, and it was fully loaded.
He disengaged the safety.
Letting himself out into a hall that w

 as long as a city street and appointed with all the grace and formality of the corridors in the White House, he kept the weapon down by his thigh. Easterly had twenty or so family and guest bedroom suites under its prodigious roof, and as he passed by doors, he counted who was inside—-or should have been: His younger sister, Gin, although not her new husband, Richard, who was away for business; Amelia, Gin’s sixteen–year–old daughter, who had yet to go back to Hotchkiss for finals; Jeff Stern, Lane’s old college roommate and newly appointed CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company. And then of course, Lane and Gin’s mother, Little Virginia Elizabeth.
It was possible that any of them could be down there for a two a.m. stroll. Well, except for his mother. In the last three years, Little V.E. hadn’t been out of her room for anything other than his father’s visitation mere days ago—-and even though that occasion had warranted the effort, seeing her dressed and on the first floor had been a shock.
So it was unlikely it was her.
And as for staff? The butler had quit and none of the maids stayed overnight—-well, and the maids had all been let go anyway.
No one else should have been on the property.
Halfway down the hall, he walked through the second–story sitting area and paused at the head of the formal staircase.
The security alarm was not going off down below . . . but he hadn’t put the system on when he and Lizzie had gotten home from the hospital.
Hell, had he even bothered to lock the thousand or so doors on the lower level? He couldn’t remember. It had been nearly midnight and his brain had been a mess, images of Miss Aurora in that ICU bed tangling him in knots. Dear Lord . . . that African–American woman was more his mother than the neo–-Daisy Buchanan who had birthed him—-and the idea that the cancer was taking Miss Aurora away from him organ by organ was enough to make him violent.
Descending the grand stairs, which were right out of Tara’s playbook, he bottomed out on the entry foyer’s black and white marble floor. There were no lights on, and he stopped again and listened. As with all old houses, Easterly talked when people moved through its rooms, its beams and boards, hinges and handles, conversing with whoever walked around.
Pity. Kentucky law provided a homesteader defense if you killed a trespasser in your house—-so if he was going to shoot somebody tonight, he’d prefer to do it inside rather than out. That way, he wouldn’t have to drag the body through some doorway and arrange things so it looked like the sonofabitch had been breaking in.
Continuing on, Lane went through the shadowy rooms in the public part of the house, the antiques and old paintings making him feel like a security guard checking a museum after hours. Windows and French doors were all around, bracketed by great swaths of vintage Fortuny, but with the lights off throughout the first floor, he was as much a ghost as whoever in that garden was.
In the rear of the mansion, he went to one of the doors and stared out across the flagstone terrace, searching through the wrought–iron loungers, chairs, and glass–topped tables, seeking that which did not belong or was in motion. Nothing. Not around the slate skirt of the house, at least.
Somewhere out in the greenery, however, a person was stalking his family.
Turning the brass handle, he gently opened the door halfway and leaned out, the mid–May night embracing him with warm, heavy air that was fragrant as a bouquet. He looked left. Looked right. The gas lanterns that ran down the back of the mansion threw flickering light, but the peachy pools of illumination did not carry far.
Narrowing his eyes, he scanned the darkness as he exited and carefully shut things up behind himself.
As with all homes of its stature, the great Federal manse had extensive formal gardens sprawling around it, the various layouts and planting zones forming landscapes as unique and distinct as different zip codes in a city. The unifying element? Elegance at every turn, whether it was the Roman statuary striking poses in the midst of miniature hedge patterns, or fountains that sprinkled crystal clear water into koi ponds, or the pool house’s wisteria–covered arbor.
This was Mother Nature subjected to the will of man, the flora cultivated and nitpicked and maintained with the precision one would use to decorate an interior room. And for the first time in his life, he thought of the cost to keep it all going, the man–hours, the plant material, the constant mowing and weeding and pruning, the worrying over those two–hundred–year–old brick walls and walks, the cleaning of the swimming pool.
Craziness. The kind of expense that only the super rich could afford—-and the Bradford family was no longer in that stratosphere.
Thank you, Father, you sonofabitch.
Refocusing on his mission, Lane put his back against the house and became a deer hunter in a stand. He didn’t move. Barely breathed. Stayed quiet as he waited for his target to present itself.
Was it Max? he wondered.
His parents’ loveless marriage had produced four children—-
a shock, considering his mother and father had rarely, if ever, been in the same room together even before she had taken to her bed three years ago. But there was Edward, the golden eldest son, who had been hated by their sire; Max, the black sheep; Lane, who had turned being a playboy into an art form—at least until he’d been smart enough to settle down with the right woman; and finally Gin, the promiscuous rule thwarter.
Edward was in jail for the murder of their dreadful father. Gin was in a hate–filled marriage for money. And Max had come home after several years of being unreachable, a bearded, tattooed shadow of the frat boy he had once been, who despised everyone, including his own family—to the point where he was staying in one of the staff cottages down at the back of the property because he refused to be under Easterly’s roof.
Maybe Max had come up here to the big house for . . . God only knew what. A cup of sugar. Bottle of bourbon. Perhaps to steal some silverware?
But how could he have gotten into the gardens? How could anybody? Two sides of the acres of flowers and lawn were protected by that brick wall, which was twelve feet high and had barbed wire on the top and two padlocked gates. The third side was even more difficult to get through: His father had converted the old stables into a state-of-the-art business center, from which the Bradford Bourbon Company had been run for the last couple of years. God knew you weren’t getting through that facility, not unless you had a pass card or the codes—-
From over on the right, a figure darted down the allée of blooming crab apple trees.
Gotcha, Lane thought as his heart kicked into high gear. Shifting his position forward, his bare feet were silent over the flagstones as he rushed across the terrace and took cover behind an urn big enough to take a bath in.
It was definitely a man. Those shoulders were too broad to be a woman’s.
And the bastard was coming this way.
Lane leveled his gun at his target, holding the weapon steady with two hands as he straight–armed the autoloader. As he kept himself perfectly motionless, he waited for the trespasser to funnel down that pathway and come up this set of side steps.
He waited . . .
My Review
Book #3 in The Bourbon Kings trilogy
JR Ward

The final installment of JR Ward’s The Bourbon Kings trilogy is akin to a mangled train wreck, it’s not pretty, it’s painful to experience but you have no choice but to watch it unfold. It’s a heady mix of Dallas and Dynasty and book three is all about solutions, closures and new beginnings of a family who easily puts the D in dysfunction.
The absolute mastery of her storytelling is clearly evident in this finale by the way she puts a solid conclusion to a story still so up in the air when it started. The eloquent narrative will take readers back to a more “gentile” time but with all the present day toys, vices and technology plus the constant play on words dialogue give the read a certain timely realism. Her characters run the gamut from over-the-top to salt of the earth, and each and every one is absolutely necessary to the telling of the tale.
Book three picks up right where book two left off so this is NOT a story you can skip around with, and is a trilogy I will definitely revisit.
This series/trilogy is a must read for all lovers of family dynamics, dysfunction and those who love a good mystery. And is a yet another impressive work from an author I love and respect.
One footnote; do not pass over the JR’s author’s note at the beginning of the book. It’s amazing.
I was fortunate enough to listen to each of the novels in the trilogy and whoever chose Alexander Cendese for the narrator outdid themselves.
His southern drawl-y baritone is unmatched and I could easily picture him reciting these novels on a wrap around porch of a grand Kentucky mansion with a cigar in one hand and a neat glass of Bradford reserve in the other. He dots every i and crosses every t and perfects, men, women, Kentucky drawl, NYC banker, drunk, sober, high-class or blue collar and does it with style. Even if you read these novels don’t ever pass the chance to experience the mesmerizing voice of this über-talented narrator.

The four Bradford/Baldwine siblings have a lot on their plate these days at their family estate in Charlemont, Kentucky. Funds are dwindling. Except for the bare minimum the staff has been let go. The family’s bourbon empire is in dire straights. And if that isn’t enough their father’s death was not a suicide.
The youngest son of the family Jonathon Tulane (Lane) has finally after years of being a playboy grown up and is trying to keep the family’s failing Bourbon business solvent while keeping his true love, the estate’s gardener, Lizzy happy and the rest of the family close and safe. And on top of that the woman who raised him, the woman who’s more a mother to him than the woman who birthed him, is dying and he doesn’t think he can go on without her.
The oldest, Edward has confessed to his father’s murder, will not accept any form of legal help or aid from his family or his long suffering love and business competitor, Sutton.
The baby, Virginia Elizabeth (Gin) is starting to rethink her decision to marry an ogre just to keep her in Armani and Pearls, starting to regret the bad decisions her entire life is made up of. Is it too late to change or is it easier just to stay the same shallow, selfish debutante she’s always been?
The middle son Max, a grubby, bearded, tatted mess couldn’t run far or fast enough away from his family and the stars in all of his nightmares. After making this short appearance his only thought is when can I get the hell out of out Dodge.
 The Books

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Meet the Warden:
J.R. Ward is the author of over twenty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, The Black Dagger Brotherhood. There are more than 15 million copies of Ward’s novels in print worldwide and they have been published in 25 different countries around the world.
After graduating from law school, Ward began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. She lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. Writing has always been her passion and her idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot.
Visit the JRWard Facebook page for more on the Brotherhood or email her at jrw@jrward.com.


  1. I really liked the first book, glad to see this series is still going strong with what reviews I've read. She does seem like a good author.

    1. Going strong is an understatement Kindlemom, I devoured it.

  2. Yep, yep, this was a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy. I didn't get the audio version and he sounds great, but I can always do that for a re-read. :)

    1. Oh I know you're getting more into audio books Sophia Rose and yes this series is the perfect one to re read by listening :)

  3. I know! So good. I pre-ordered it too and loved it. And... I read everything starting at the dedication. One day the audio might be available here and I'll "reread" it.

  4. This series sounds really good. I had a chance to review the audios, but passed it by because I was in a rut with Ward. I do think I want to give this series a go though. I'm a big fan of Alexander Cendese. I think he does a great job. Wonderful review.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    1. I can understand your rut with Ward Melanie, but this is totally out of anything you've ever associated with her.

  5. I loved this series from beginning to end Debbie. I had so many feelings about the characters and yes this was the hardest and yet brilliant!

    1. It was amazing and so different from anything I've every read by her. I have to admit that I've never read any Jessica Bird books, have you?