A new book coming to Paperclip in 2022! Wild Union is a Fantasy novel, sure to bring wonder to your life.
When Willow Ashbrook, Dryad Warrior and Guardian to the Coconino Forest discovers a human is moving onto her lands, her first reaction is to kick his butt straight back to California. Humans are trouble and the last thing she needs is some tech savvy genius from Silicon Valley snooping around and witnessing things in her magical world that can’t be explained. He poses a security risk and as protector it’s her duty to send him packing.
Bray Graham arrives at his cabin in the woods looking for one thing, some peace and quiet. He’s burned out from his high stress job and nothing is going to ruin his 2-month vacation, not even a streak of wilderness disasters. He’s determined to love his temporary new home, even if it kills him. When a sexy neighbor stops by, his remote cabin in the woods goes from great to glorious. She’s this secretive little thing and a mystery he just can’t wait to solve.
Recruiting her sisters for help, Willow plots to evict the human. But no matter what they throw at him, he refuses to leave. His overly positive attitude is downright puzzling. Not only is this human devastatingly handsome, but she is reluctantly impressed by his use of technology to thwart their plans. She is disturbed by her jealous reaction and lustful thoughts of the human, behaviors so unlike her. After a week of watching him from the woods, Willow decides to switch tactics and interrogate him in person. But when she gets close, Willow finds herself unable to concentrate. Feeling safe and protected, she drifts off to sleep on his porch swing. Cursing her reckless behavior, she wakes and escapes into the night.
Bray learns more about his new neighbor from another Californian in town, Gail. He discovers that Willow has raised her sisters by herself since she was a teenager in order to keep the family all together. He is impressed by her determination and strong values. That evening Willow decides to use her Dryad enchantment to force Bray to leave. Shocked when it has no effect, she seeks the old TreeAnt for advice. He suggests a reason that she can barely comprehend. Is it possible that Bray could be her eternal soul mate, a rare powerful magical connection between two beings? She had been so worried that she was losing her powers. The potential for an eternal, changes everything. She had been looking for an excuse to spend more time with the human. As Willow and Bray get to know each other, Willow continues to hold herself back. As they become more sexually involved, her non-human traits become more obvious; her skin blushes green, or her hair grows vines. Convinced of the security risk, she believes the only solution is to keep from climaxing. As the pressure builds, she is constantly interrupted by her demanding job. The frustration escalates over the weeks as they get to know one another until it becomes almost too much. Despite the arguments over secrecy and sexual tension, she is amazed by his patience and tenderness, and finds herself falling in love despite her effort to the contrary. Willow worries about her growing attachment knowing Council’s prejudice of humans.
When Bray’s friends come out for a visit, Willow invites her sisters. They in turn invite magical forest friends including the infamous Bacchus brothers and Willow’s ex, a fire demon named Lucian. With a mix of jealousy, and liquid courage from the Bacchus brother’s moonwine, Bray pushes Willow past her no climax rule. But he’s not the only one with jealousy issues. After running into Gail in town repeatedly, Willow accepts her human friend’s advice, and decides to make things exclusive.
Bella, a woman from the party shows up at Bray’s cabin with a warning. She believes Willow is cheating and offers to spy for him at the forest retreat. Bray doesn’t want to admit it, but he suspects Willow is keeping a big secret, and accepts Bella’s help by giving her a drone to capture everything on video.
Willow gets drunk the first night of Festivus and her ex, Lucian takes advantage of the situation. She gets him to back off via a knee to the groin before things go too far. Even though Willow has attended Festivus for years, this year seems different. Since she started dating Bray, her perspective has changed. During the party, Bella and her mother Donna, meet in secret to discuss a plot to bring the Ashbrooks down. As Council meetings continue through the weekend, Willow contemplates how much things have changed in just a few generations of leaders. On the final night of Festivus, despite the knee to the groin, Lucian’s interest in Willow still seems strong. On the final day, Willow brings up Bray’s residence status and despite several magical creatures vouching for the human, Council is still uncertain what should become of him.
When Willow gets back from Festivus, she can’t wait to see him, but Bray is furious. Although most of the video was blurry, the part with Lucian and her kissing was clear. Willow’s reaction to the drone makes Bray believe this isn’t the only secret she is keeping and breaks up with her. Willow leaves in a daze and Bella stops by soon after and tries unsuccessfully to seduce Bray. He gets drunk on scotch and goes for a walk meeting with a fox shifter that changes forms between young and old, human and animal. Once he wakes up with a hangover, the old woman agrees to teach him about herbs in exchange for supplies from town.
After a week goes by, Willow is still upset how she left things with Bray, not even defending herself when he accused her of cheating. She decides to enlist the Sprite’s help to determine if Bray is her eternal. Willow invites Bray to the town’s Halloween picnic. On the haunted hayride, Bray sees through the disguises of the magical creatures. After he is shot by a forget me dart by Sprite Swat and passes out, Willow takes him back to the cabin. The Sprite leader administers a test to determine his soul purity and soul mate status. It’s confirmed, but the Sprite says it doesn’t matter, Council will never accept the union. She is heartbroken and decides that if she can’t see him, there is no reason to hold back.
The next morning Bray is suffering effects from the forget me serum and can’t remember anything that happened the previous day. Willow reveals that he got drunk and they finally had sex. She breaks up with him and runs off crying.
After a week of Willow avoiding him, he tracks her down and she agrees to go away with him to Flagstaff for a few days. She realizes that even though Council can veto her life mate, they can’t control who she spends time with. While Bray and Willow are at a party in Flagstaff, Bella meets with her mother at Bray’s cabin and they discuss a plot involving her ex, Lucian. Back at the party, Willow passes out and Bray takes her to the hospital thinking she is having an allergic reaction to some food she ate. While in the emergency room, Willow tells him there is a fire in the forest and asks him to drive her back. After she passes out again from pain, Bray overhears the nurses prepping for forest fire victims. He takes a leap of faith and drives Willow out to meet her sisters. Witnessing Willow and her sisters become tree creatures, healing the forest with magic, and bringing the rain is too much for Bray’s logical mind to take and he drives off in shock.
Devastated by Bray’s departure, Willow shares with her sisters that Bray is her eternal mate. Mae apologizes for stirring up animosity against him and calling for Council to vote him out. High with emotion, the sisters join in a hug comforting each other as the remnants of the fire are extinguished. Willow shares her guilt over not being in the forest to protect when the fire came and her uncertainty of how Council will react.
The next morning Bella wakes Willow at her birth tree with a scroll from Council on healing duties. She spends the whole day healing and is too exhausted to confront Bray. The following day she finds his cabin locked and a note saying he has gone back home to California. She seeks her sister Red for advice who suggests Abraham. Her other sister Mae has the same idea and is there when Willow goes to meet with him.
On the morning of the Council meeting Willow visits a friend from town who witnessed Gail hopping into Bray’s truck on his ride into Flagstaff. She encourages Willow to chase after Bray. At the Council meeting, the TreeAnt Abraham informs all that Bray is Willow’s eternal soul mate. Despite the reveal and the fact that the Ashbrook sisters’ combined magic helped put out the forest fire, Council still votes Willow out as Guardian and replaces her with a Bacchus brother. The reason they give is negligence of duty and her relationship with the rumored fire starter, her ex-lover Lucian. She realizes it’s just Council’s way of saving face, but it’s a blow to be removed from a job that was supposed to be permanent. Her sisters all head back to Bray’s cabin to drink and commiserate. Willow realizes how grateful she is for her sister’s support and feels lucky despite everything that’s happened.
With nothing to do and little to lose, she decides to travel to California to find her mate and bring him back. She recruits her sisters for help. On her journey she travels via werewolf transports, portals, magical pockets, and human public transit. Willow discovers how vastly different Coconino is from other forests. Guardians are treated with such respect and Council doesn’t have the same power as back home. Through her travels, she also learns more about her sisters, how Mae seems to be jumping from forest to forest to train, how much Ellie is respected in the werewolf clans and how knowledgeable Red is with human technology. Each of them helps her in unimaginable ways.
On her final portal to John Muir Woods, she meets an unusual troll that directs her to the city. After her long travels, Willow arrives at Bray’s office. She finds him with Gail and something snaps. She attacks Gail in a jealous rage. After the confrontation, Bray leads Gail away to the kitchen for ice and Willow realizes she is too late. He has already fallen for Gail. To escape the humiliation, she sneaks out of the office and heads back to the portal to head home. Unfortunately, that unusual troll is demanding a special payment for travel, Bray’s mother for dinner. After Willow explains more of her situation, she discovers the troll doesn’t want to eat Mrs. Graham after all. He just wants to meet up with her for dinner, and shares how he knows both Bray’s mother and his father before he died. He directs her to Juliet Graham’s house, and she feels an instant affinity for the woman. Together Willow and Juliet come up with a plan to get Bray back.
Bray and his P.I. have been scouring the city trying to locate Willow for days with no success. He finally finds her at his mother’s Thanksgiving party. Not only does Willow seem to know his mother, but she’s been hired as her charity assistant. Over the next few days, Willow ignores him as they bump into one another at various locations around the city. His favorite Aunt takes pity on him, and invites him to Gail’s family charity gala where she promises to help get him some alone time with the woman, he appears obsessed with. At Gail’s family mansion, Willow and Bray are finally able to talk and reconcile. Gail confronts Willow and explains that she only wanted to do a story on Bray for her father’s magazine. After being kicked out of that party, Bray takes Willow back to his condo to rekindle things properly. They spend the next few weeks exploring the city and at the end of December, he proposes at Point Reyes.
After spending a little over a month in California, Willow and Bray travel back to Arizona after being married in a civil ceremony at his mother’s request. The morning after they get back, one of the Bacchus brothers arrives at their cabin and fills Willow in on what’s been happening. Council wants her back. The Bacchus brother that had been appointed as Guardian, has been deemed a security risk. The forest has been in chaos since she left. The Ashbrook sisters show up in front of Council in full war regalia. Council has no choice but to grovel and beg for her return. Willow demands that they accept the union to her eternal before resuming her role as Guardian. Bray surprises everyone by walking into the sacred circle, something impossible for a human to do. Abraham addresses council telling them that the forest chose Willow for Guardian sixteen years ago and that has never changed. The Council’s crowning of another was a farce. Bray is half-druid and the forest has already accepted the union.
Bella is brought before Council. Witnesses saw her talking to Lucian before and after the fire, and she had not warned a soul. She also lied about Council requesting healing. Bray whispered additional things that Bella had done to sabotage their relationship while they were dating. After discovering these crimes weren’t punishable, Bray suggests community service, and Bella is sentenced to give blood for healing ceremonies. After Bella is taken away, the Sprite leader accuses Donna of treason. She is arrested for trying to overthrow the Guardian. Council votes her out and sentences her to jailtime in the Frost Giant’s prison. She screams that everyone will pay and that they have doomed the forest, but no one listens to her rants. The rest of Council debates Lucian’s fate even though he is still at large. A Goblin squadron goes with Willow and Bray to collect Lucian. He is brought in without incident and admits to starting the fire, but the circumstances are not as straight forward as they originally believed, making them wonder what they are missing.
In the end Bray has learned to let go of his logical mind, realizing that not all things have to make sense. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and allow the mystical energies around you to lead you down an unknown path of discovery. He’s embracing his druid half despite his lack of wilderness experience. Willow has realized that her view of the Guardian position and Council was seriously skewed by her past. Her journey to Bray had been enlightening in so many ways. Understanding how other forests operate brought clarity to just how dysfunctional Coconino was and how many changes needed to be made. With Bray by her side, Willow is making huge strides on reform, and rebuilding her confidence. Together they found the missing piece in each other and a bond that united not only themselves but their worlds.