The Willow

The Willow - Stacey Kennedy “The Willow”, is written in the first person POV and told by the story’s heroine Nexi. In the story’s prologue Nexi is laying under a willow tree hidden in a forest away from the world’s prying eyes. She is suicidal in the wake of a tragic motor vehicle accident which claimed the lives of her beloved adoptive parents, has slashed her wrists and dies. You are probably thinking "Yikes", as I did, but hang on, things look up for Nexi. ;) She then awakens to find herself in the Otherworld, a place that is home to various supernatural beings including witches, vampires, wolfshifters and Drake, her biological father, a Guardian. Nexi is also introduced to Haven, her quirky, spirited “soul sister” who is a witch with a special power. Nexi learns she was sent to the human world as child for her protection because her biological mother, a witch, was killed for her power by an evil vampire named Lazarus.

“The Willow” is a story that took some initial reading perseverance on my part as there are a number of characters introduced within the first couple of chapters who play key roles in the plot and I found some of the narrative explaining Otherworld and it’s inhabitants a little confusing. However, I was happy that I stuck with the story because Ms. Kennedy did some solid world building and it did turn out to be a good fast paced paranormal romance with plenty of action. Further, I grew to like Nexi very much and enjoyed her voice.

Guardians of the Otherworld investigate crimes against mortals caused by other supernatural beings and exact justice. As it turns out Nexi is a powerful Guardian and she trains with Kyden, a hotter than hell Guardian leader who she is immediately attracted to, they eventually become involved. Kyden is an exceedingly strong alpha hero with dominant tendencies. He is well matched with Nexi who matures into a feisty kickass warrior able to beat the crap out of any number of nasty supernatural bad guys. She earns her magical, lethal sword by proving herself worthy in a Guardian trial where she demonstrated her skills. Nexi also possesses a rapier wit, a wicked temper and a has mouth like a guttersnipe (I loved it). lol

Ms. Kennedy adds conflict to the romance plot by making Kyden a ladies man prior to becoming involved with Nexi. When she finds out about his love em and leave em ways it takes some determination and sacrifice on Kyden’s part before he is able to convince Nexi of his honorable intentions. “The Willow” is not a sexually explicit erotic novel, but I did find it sensual and there is plenty of sexual tension.

His expression softened and he reached out, running his fingers up my arm softly. He stopped when he reached my shoulder, then moved his fingers under my chin. His lips met mine again in a soft passionate kiss that was more than lips meeting—it was love blossoming. He could be tough as nails and extremely cocky—and that side of him sent desire running through my veins—but this soft, gentle side of him was one I could get lost in.

When he released my mouth, my gaze met his and I realized how lucky I’d become. When I thought I’d lost everything, I ended up gaining more than I could ever imagine. “It’s hard to believe how much my life has changed,” I told him. “Just a week ago, I was trying to kill myself. Now look, things are pretty damn great.”

He smiled softly, brushing his fingers along my cheek. “You have changed things for me as well.”

The Willow © Stacey Kennedy

Ms. Kennedy developed a stellar cast of supporting characters who all play key roles in advancing a plot that has a number of tense action packed scenes. Nexi has suffered heartbreaking loss at the hands of Lazarus and when he returns she learns the true magnitude of his treachery, and, she is in for the battle of her life and is at risk of losing her new found family and world. “The Willow”, has plenty of bloody battle scenes, there are eviscerations, decapitations, limbs flying, you name it you got it as observed and told by Nexi, who softens the more gruesome aspects of the battles through the use of a witty monologue. Readers don’t learn the special significance of Nexi’s willow tree or whether she and Kyden prevail against the evil Lazarus until the closing pages of the story. If you enjoy a fast paced, action packed paranormal romance told in the first person, you may like to give, “The Willow” a try.