NOTE: This review is about an adult fantasy romance novel.
When I attended the Mesa Book Festival last December, I met author A.M. Ladd, who was staffing the Paperclip Publishing table. As I perused the books on the Paperclip tables, I found myself caught up in the story I previewed on the back of a book. It turned out that the book I was looking at was written by Ladd herself. I threw my name in for a drawing for the book, and was thrilled when I received a text the next week letting me know I had won!
The book was Wild Union, an adult fantasy about a Dryad in the Coconino Forest of northern Arizona. The Dryad, Willow, falls in love with the human male she is supposed to be frightening away. Wild Union is a unique urban fantasy which brings together various magical creatures in an environment we don't often encounter.
Willow and her sisters Red, Mae, and Ellie are thought by the townspeople to be lifelong members of a nudist colony. They live deep in the woods, and only approach town on rare occasions. Willow has made a few female friends, one of whom knew her mother before her. Their mother had been the Guardian of the Coconino Forest, but with her death when Willow is still a teen, the position and the responsibilities are passed down to Willow. Willow does not feel equal to the task, and finds herself outvoted by the Council more often than not. Nevertheless, it is her duty to protect the forest and the many creatures, natural and supernatural alike, who live within.
The sisters are playful, open, and sensual creatures that both intrigue and dumfound the humans with whom them come into contact. There is much more to their natures than playfulness, however. The Dryads are deeply connected to their trees, their forest, and the animal creatures who live there. Their natural suspicion of humans and the dangers they can bring into the woods is offset by curiosity and ingenuity.
Bray is a wealthy tech executive who has purchased an abandoned cabin which is built around a lovely and unique tree in the forest. Willow is assigned the task of making him wish he had never bought it, go away, and never come back. However, the job is not as easy as she thought it would be Not only is Willow attracted to Bray, but the small wildlife who frequent the yard are impressed with the food he leaves out for them. It is almost as if this lonely young man from San Francisco has an innate knowledge of what the creatures of the forest want and need. Bray is unaware, however, that there are far more creatures living in the forest than he imagines.
Bray’s attraction to Willow is unlike anything he has experienced in his high-tech world, and finds himself drawn to the idea of living full-time at his new vacation home. However, his confusion about Willow’s sometimes odd and often secretive behavior leads him to question himself. The truth is, Bray actually knows very little about himself and his heritage.
In her desire to save her forest realm while also pursuing her true love, Bray, Willow experiences the frightening but intriguing world of humans. On a quest that takes her from the Arizona forest to San Francisco, Willow comes to understand the importance of her position as the Guardian of the Coconino Forest. She also learns something both fabulous and fascinating about Bray himself.
This spicy adult romance is a fun read. If you enjoy fantasy and adult romance, Wild Union might be the story you're looking for. Personally, I am hoping Ladd brings us the stories of Willow and Bray, and Willow's sisters, into the future.
A.M. Ladd has lived in Arizona for over twenty years, where she has explored many of the natural wonders. She wants to share those locations with her readers and hopes her books will light a passion in others to go explore the world around them.
You can purchase Wild Union at Ladd’s website, the Paperclip Publishing website, or on Amazon.
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