Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!
JR Ward used to be my “crack author”. Anything she wrote, I would read. When I heard she was publishing a contemporary romance series outside her paranormal series, I was very interested. The blurb for The Bourbon Kings (The Boubon Kings #1) reminded me of Sugar Daddy or Blue Eyed Devil from Lisa Kleypas’ Travis Family series. Both those books are on my keeper shelves.
I was hooked for the first 50 pages of The Bourbon Kings. Ward. Even with her over the top prose and too many descriptions to count sometimes, JR is an excellent storyteller. There’s no denying yet. I’ll give her that credit. She does draw you in from the start, but by page 200, which is almost half way though (the book clocks in at 423 pages), I had to stop reading and give this the dread DNF label. The reason? The characters are horrible and cartoonish. Other then the heroine, Lizzie, there’s not one character I can sympathize with. If Tulane, the hero, had at least one redeeming quality, I could have given this story the benefit of the doubt, and let my disgust with the rest of the characters go. But I couldn’t. The men here are all man whores who come across as misogynistic (even Lane), and the women second rate power hungry trollops, with the exception of Lizzie. Also, the amount of POVs, like the recent BDB books are far too many. I think I counted 6 different ones.
If Ward had decided to make this Lizzie’s story instead of Lane, and made Lane the villain, who wants Lizzie back, while she’s romanced by the “good guy” hero, then I would have been totally on board with this book. Tulane is a spoiled man child, even though he’s well into his 30’s. Two years prior to the events of this book, he has an affair with Lizzie around the time he may or may not have been with his girlfriend Chantal at the time. She ends up pregnant, and Lane marries her. Lizzie rejects him, and he runs away to NYC, sitting on his friend’s couch and doing nothing productive with his life. When he finds out the woman he thinks of his mother (not his biological mother, but his housekeeper. His mother was never a real mother to him and his 2 brothers and sisters, including his EVIL father) has taken ill, he returns home to Kentucky to check in on her. For some reason he thinks Lizzie will forgive him, even though his wife is living at Easterly where he grew up, acting like the queen of the castle. Lane’s family is one big WTF soap opera mash up ala the 1980’s, such as Dyntasy, Dallas and Falcon Crest. Think dysfunctional to the max! Lane’s father would end up beating Edward, the older brother, who was kidnapped and held for ransom in South America, where he was tortured and left for death. But he survived and has returned home to work with horses (Darling Daddy didn’t pay the ransom, and may have had a ulterior motive why). There’s Max, who just appears in flashbacks. Then there is Gin, the youngest, who cheats with married men, had a love child in her teens, she tossed away to some boarding school, while she pines for Lane’s lawyer friend Samuel T, who is some playboy jerk. Gin and Samuel T dirty flirt, as in he loves to touch Gin and get her all hot and bothered, but won’t finish the job.
Everyone acts like spoiled rich jerks even though they’re way too old to act like it. There is one annoying trope (everything and the kitchen sink syndrome) after another that’s found in romances, but The Bourbon Kings isn’t technically a romance. It has romantic elements because of Lane chasing after Lizzie, but it reads more like general fiction. Some may say this is the start of a sweeping family epic series. The sweeping epic part of it just doesn’t deliver the goods. it’s more of a caricature, a substitute of what a sweeping family epic should be.
Ever read a book where you can’t stop rolling your eyes and toss your hands in the air because you’re so frustrated by what you’re reading? The Bourbon Kings is a perfect example of that.
Fans of Ward may go either way with this book, but at least there’s not a million and one product name drops and no mention of someone being a “fidiot”, even though everyone acts like it.