Desert Isle Keeper
The Angels' Share
In The Angels’ Share, bestselling author J.R. Ward continues the story of the wealthy Bradford family first introduced in last year’s The Bourbon Kings. This second instalment will not stand well on its own, so if you haven’t done so already, I strongly advise you to pick up a copy of the first book before reading this one
Things aren’t going well for the Bradfords. After the death of his father, Lane Bradford is struggling to keep things together for himself, his family, and the bourbon business that has made them extremely wealthy. Unfortunately, Bradford Sr. didn’t exercise the best judgement before his death. Millions of dollars are missing from both the business and family bank accounts, and Lane has no clue what his father did with the money. What he does know is people are willing to die and maybe even kill in order to keep the Bradford patriarch’s secrets. Now, it’s up to Lane to reconstruct his father’s last days and save his family from ruin.
Edward was once the Bradford’s golden boy. Heir to their vast fortune, he traveled the world until tragedy struck in South America. After learning that his father was responsible for the horrors that befell him, Edward is beyond angry. He vows to have nothing to do with his family, spending his days running a stable and wishing he could die. He’s an extremely bitter man, but two very different women are able to see beyond both his physical and mental anguish. Is it possible one or both of them can help Edward save himself and his family?
Gin is the only Bradford daughter. She enjoys life as a pampered princess, and can’t conceive of a life without the wealth to which she is accustomed. In an attempt to bring some much needed funds into the family coffers, she allies herself with a man she doesn’t love and cannot trust, all the while dreaming of a man she cannot have. She’s not always an easy character to identify with, but Ms. Ward does a remarkable job of making readers understand what has made her the woman she is.
Maxwell Bradford’s part in this novel is the one thing I would change about it if I could. We know next to nothing about him and it seems his family is in the same boat. He’s been gone for many years and then, all of a sudden, he arrives home just in time for his father’s funeral. Since his brothers and sister don’t seem to know where he has been, I found myself puzzled by his sudden appearance. How had he found out about his father’s death, and, if his relationship with the family is so close to nonexistent, why does he return home at all? I was hoping his return would serve as some sort of window into the depths of the Bradfords and their secrets, but, sadly, this was not to be. He’s home, and that’s all the reader really knows. No explanation is given about his return, and, although other members of the family seemed as baffled by it as I was, nothing is done to find out the answers. All I can hope is that he’ll play a much more meaningful part in later books.
The police are sniffing around, determined to discover the truth about Mr. Bradford’s death. Was it suicide as they at first thought, or was he murdered? Much to Lane’s distress, almost every member of the Bradford clan falls under suspicion. Lane is determined to uncover the truth before the police do, even if the answers cause harm to someone he loves.
The previous book spent quite a bit of time dealing with Lane’s romance with head gardener Lizzie King. When I first began reading The Angels’ Share, I wondered if one of the other Bradford siblings would find a great love, and, while Ms. Ward hints at romantic possibilities for Edward, we don’t really see anything concrete developing. Some readers may be disappointed by this lack of a romantic arc, but I found what the author does here quite pleasing. I know who Edward won’t end up with, but the rest is left open, perhaps to be more fully explored in the next instalment in the series.
Ms. Ward is extremely skilled at creating characters I love and hate at the same time. She creates real people with both virtues and flaws. During the course of the story, the entire cast of characters experiences some amount of growth. Nobody ends up perfect, but it’s clear they’re all trying to be better people, each for his or her own reasons.
I loved almost everything about The Angel’s Share. It’s compulsively readable, so much so that I hated putting it down even for a few minutes. It’s filled with the sorts of dark secrets that are worthy of a 90’s soap opera. Granted, it’s no literary masterpiece, but Ms. Ward’s writing has a way of sucking readers in and refusing to let them go. I can’t wait for the next book to be released.