Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review - The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

So, I dove into J.R. Ward's new non-vampire/non-paranormal series - The Bourbon Kings. I used to love the BDB series until the 3-4th book and lost interest. Characters all seemed the same and the males well....became wusses. (IMO)
But I did love those early books, the way they were written and add to that? She based it in my beloved Kentucky.
OR..supposedly it's based in Kentucky. I can't get more than a 1/3 of the way in because she made of names for EVERYTHING. The Derby? Different name. The historic racetrack where it takes place? Different name.

She even gave my UK Wildcats a different mascot and calls it The Kentucky University.

It was honestly like reading a book about Kentucky written by someone who knew NOTHING about Kentucky...except they knew KY has horses and bourbon--that's all we need to reference, right? That'll make it pass as being based in the state? Therefore they decided to do ZERO research to find out any of the real facts and/or places.

Now, that's amateur mistake or someone that just doesn't care about reality...or a fantasy book. But none of those facts apply:
1. J.R. Ward is an accomplished best selling author on all the lists.
2. This book is based as fiction, but not fantasy nor paranormal. The places, history and people of Kentucky are very real and should be treated as such.
But the biggest thing is this-- Ward actually LIVES in Kentucky, so the research was fairly easy. She claims to love the region and it's history yet not enough to give it the spotlight in a book that will surely hit the best-sellers due to who she is? (And now it's going to be a TV show). Was she afraid she'd have to pay them royalties? No, she'd simply had to request a right for usage and not defame or slander the public entities. They are public domain--actual streets, schools, places....
It makes no sense to me. So, as she's making up names for all the iconic places that are actually known by most as being Kentucky, I found myself finding that since the places she references are given fake names etc, the whole book feels, well, fake. (It would be like someone referencing in a book over and over - Times Circle in the middle of New Fork, New Fork).
Now I know, there is no Caldwell, NY but that's also clearly all made up for the BDB series which is a fictional/fantasy/paranormal series. So I go into that being none of this is real..its an escape and fantasy as that type should be. So I needed no real connection to enjoy the books.
But Kentucky has very real and historical connections and therefore, when she bastardized those for her own use without consideration, I decided I can't read any more of the book. Add to that the perceived stereotypical "southern" flavor she portrayed it's people as having...
The Bourbon Kings just seemed like a cheap bottle of Mad dog 20/20 rather than a smooth, Kentucky Bourbon as it should have been.
Take care - JTW

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