Daughters of the Jaguar, Book #1
By Willow Rose
Author’s Website: http://www.willow-rose.blogspot.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Lee Jutton
The year is 1983. Christian is 22 years old when he leaves his home in Denmark to spend a year in Florida with a very wealthy family and go to med-school. A joyful night out with friends is shattered by an encounter with a savage predator that changes his life forever. Soon he faces challenges he had never expected. A supernatural gift he has no idea how to embrace. A haunting family in the house next door. A spirit-filled girl who seems to carry all the answers. An ancient secret hidden in the swamps of Florida. One life never the same. One love that becomes an obsession. Two destinies that will be forever entangled. (Amazon)
Christian is a playboy with a past. He seems like he has it all: amazing good looks that harkens back to his Danish ancestors, the Vikings; intelligence enough to pursue a career as a doctor; a wealthy father; a knack for songwriting and guitar playing that makes girls swoon. Christian has all of these gifts and knows it, which makes him a somewhat irritating protagonist at the start of Savage, the first in a new YA trilogy by author Willow Rose. However, the story that Rose drops Christian into is interesting and compelling enough that not only does the reader forget about Christian’s ego, but soon Christian does as well. The evolution of the main character is one of the biggest strengths of Savage, and I look forward to seeing how Christian involves in the next two installments, which are due to take place at ten year intervals in Christian’s life.
Christian has a darkness within him due to the death of his beloved mother at a young age. Upon leaving Denmark for the sunny beaches of Florida, that darkness remains within him, even as he bonds with the beautiful young daughter of the couple he is staying with and her friends. When one of the group’s nighttime excursions goes awry, Christian is nearly killed by alligators in the Florida swamps. However, he is rescued by a mysterious jaguar that pulls him from the reptiles’ jaws and leaves him on shore.
Why did the jaguar not kill him? Why has Christian started having visions and premonitions since the accident? Who are the beautiful women living next door, and why do they appear to have supernatural powers? These are the questions that plague Christian even as he is trying to concentrate on starting medical school in Florida. Eventually he meets and falls passionately in love with the gorgeous Aiyana, one of the exotic and mystical women from next door. However, being with Aiyana isn’t as easy as it would seem—especially when the jaguar keeps haunting Christian in both dreams and reality. Yet Christian is willing to do whatever it takes to be a part of Aiyana’s life, even if it means throwing aside a respectable life to live amongst the spirits and magic of the swamps.
Christian, as I previously noted, becomes much more likeable throughout the novel, especially after he falls for Aiyana, who brings out the humanity in him. The cast of characters is diverse and interesting, and the interesting aspects of Native American culture and myth that Rose writes about are fascinating. Because the book takes place in 1983 there are plenty of other cultural references that might make older readers chuckle, though they might go over the target YA audience’s heads.
However, it is important to note that Savage is far more adult than young adult. The book is rife with adult language and violent situations, as well as several explicit sex scenes. If it were a film, it would most definitely be R rated. I would keep that in mind, and advise that no one younger than 16-17 years old should be reading Savage. However, the older readers will enjoy Christian’s journey and Aiyana’s culture, and look forward to book two in the trilogy, due out this fall.