Things weren’t all roses for Kylee Russell and Brooklyn Willie during their time on season 27 of The Bachelor. While neither lady found love in the arms of cowboy Zach Shallcross, both women remain hopeful about love. Rusell and Willie are delighted to be returning to the Bachelor Nation for this season of Bachelor in Paradise

While both the nurse and the oral surgery lab designer had their own unique experiences on The Bachelor, both women look forward to something new and fresh while on the beach. 

Ahead of the debut of Bachelor In Paradise season 9, Shadow and Act spoke with both Willie and Russell about their thoughts and hopes for this new chance at love. 

For Russell, being able to connect with various men is what enticed her most about Paradise. “I think with Paradise, there’s so much more opportunity to truly find your person,” she explains. “You have multiple men down on the beach, and I have my eye on a few, and I truly think I’ll hopefully mesh with one of them.”

Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images

Willie is also intrigued with the different format of Paradise. “I feel like every time I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, good things have happened,” she says. “It did not end how I wanted with Zach. I did feel blindsided, but putting myself back out there again…How are you going to find your person if you’re not putting yourself out there? So I wanted to try it again.”

While many of the contestants remained coy about who they’d hope to see on the beach, Russell is clear about who she is eager to meet. “I’ve been interested in Aven [Jones] since his season of The Bachelorette, and so I’m excited to finally meet him,” she smiles. 

Though things didn’t exactly go in her favor the last time she put herself out there publically, Russell learned a lot about what she’s seeking in a partner. “It really put into perspective that I’m ready to settle down and find my person and start a family with them,” she explains. “I always had that thought, but being so close and having a person in front of me who was ready for those same things concluded everything for me.”

Paradise is more relaxed than The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but the stakes are still high. Also, displaying your thoughts and feelings to the public can be a nerve-wracking experience. “I think there’s so much more room for heartbreak this go around,” Russell reflects. “Zach is a great person. I think going into it, I was hopeful, but I knew in the back of my mind he just really wasn’t my type. But knowing that there will be multiple men out there that I find attractive and have some of the same values and morals as I do, it’s scary because I don’t want heartbreak.”

While Willie is open to an engagement, she’s most looking forward to remaining true to who she is. “I’m not sure if I’ll approach [Paradise] much differently,” she says. “I think I’ll still approach it with being my authentic self and really just trying to put myself out there the best I can.

The horse enthusiast is used to being open and vulnerable. Speaking about her experience as a domestic abuse survivor helped her connect with fans and viewers. “It was important for me to share because if my story can help just one person, maybe that’s the reason I went through oy,” she says. “I do think it’s also important for your next relationship to understand that about you because it does show why you are the way that you are, and certain things that are important to you as far as moving forward. Then, the support that I’ve received from the community and just everyone has been overwhelming in the best way possible, so I’m glad I did. It was terrifying in the moment, but now that I have, I feel truly just a weight lifted.”

In addition to looking for love, Russell is determined to speak up for herself while remaining true to who she is. “I needed to find a voice and speak up for what I believed in and what needed to be heard,” she explains about her past outspokenness. “I’m ready to go about that this go around, do the same things, and truly just fight for what I want. But I think this go around, I just want people to truly know that I’m loving, I’m caring, and I’m ready to settle down.”

Bachelor in Paradise season 9 airs Thursdays on ABC.