Pages: 384 pages
When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it's to discover he's been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it's property of the Maddox family who owned and operated Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.
In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. But the family tree is rooted in tainted soil and has borne rotten fruit. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. The Maddoxes have bourbon in their blood—and blood in their bourbon. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.
The Bourbon Thief starts with a seduction, a theft and a story that plays out like an 80’s soap opera. Cooper takes home a beautiful woman, looking only for a good time, and wakes up to his lady love attempting to make off with his prized bottle of Red Thread bourbon. Much like Scheherazade, in exchange for him not immediately calling the police and having her arrested, Paris tells him a story. The story of how the Red Thread empire came to be.
The story Paris tells is filled with young love, racism, cheating, bastards, attempted rape, and sins of all shape and form. The Maddox family, which founded Red Thread Bourbon, a company that grew into one of the top bourbon companies in the world. It’s the American Dream embodied…except for all those skeletons they have hiding in their many closets.
It’s a tale that enraptures Cooper…and readers alike. Reisz can truly spin a good yarn, that’s for sure. While I didn’t love everything about it (there were a couple of parts that really squicked me out), the story as a whole kept me turning the pages as I watched the darkness that pervaded the Maddox family tear them apart and helped young Tamara emerge triumphant.
Here’s a bit of a spoiler: It’s not what I would call a romance — I believe a true romance novel has a HEA or HFN (happily for now) and this one did not have that. However, Tamara has her own kind of HEA…as does Paris. (Cooper, on the other hand, gets a good bout of sex and a good story and sometimes that’s good enough.)
Definitely worth your time, especially if you like soapy family dramas with a Southern flair.
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