As a child, Nick Smith was held captive with other children and their magic was being drained. Stuck in a half shift, he was somehow able to escape and was helped by a wonderful woman who then took him in. But Nick’s memories and magic were surprised by a charm, and now that he remembers again, he’s bound and determined to find the house where he was held and rescue the other children. When he finally finds it, it’s abandoned and Nick is enraged and heartbroken.
Jedrek is a hellhound, a champion of the supernatural world, tasked with its protection and enforcing the rules. He’s called to the old farmhouse where they rescued children a decade ago, only to come face to face with an enraged shifter. Jedrek does what he must, and then finds out the shifter he just knocked unconscious is none other than the Chosen One’s brother. But he has to make sure Nick is in control before he tells him that Nick’s brothers are hurt and that they need to go.
Nick changes for the first time in years and his senses are going wild. But he knows he needs to get to his brothers. Finding out they’re hurt, but okay as they can be, he agrees to head to a complex owned by a powerful magic user in order to sort himself out and try to find the ones who did this to him and the other children when they are young. Jedrek is there with him every step of the way and, right from the start, their connection is undeniable. Their mating may be accidental, but both men want it and they can’t keep their hands off each other.
But in order to find the bad guys, Nick has to do something he never imagined. He will do it willingly if it means getting the people that hurt children, and saving other children. But the goddesses are impressed with him, and give him another task after making him whole again. Nick is an alpha with a big task, but he can’t do any of it without the help of his mate.
This is the third book in the Hellhound Champions series, and part of Macy Blake’s larger Chosen One universe. This tale was written with author Casey Drake and, first and foremost, I have to say that the writing between the two authors is nearly seamless. The book flows well throughout, with nothing standing out as jarring, and it fits in well with the rest of the series and the universe. As I’ve found throughout all the books in the series, there are minor world inconsistencies that are noticeable, especially when you read them all in the order in which they were meant to be read. Blake has compiled all books in both series, as well as the shorts that go with them, into a three volume collection, which makes it easy to read them all chronologically.
We don’t get to know either character well before this book, as Jedrek has only been seen a few times and Nick is merely mentioned. But we know who they are and have a basic sense of them before this story. Here the authors bring them to life and show them falling in lust, then love, while also telling an interesting story and furthering the metaplot.
Nick doesn’t, in his own words, know “shit about shit.” He’s been largely sheltered from the supernatural world ever since he was found, and the charm he wore kept him in the dark. We see his true heart right from the beginning though, as he’s desperate to find the kids he was held with and left behind, even though it’s been 14 years. He’s also determined to keep his brothers in the dark, because they don’t know anything about this world. So he’s been obsessed and working on his own. Of course, his brothers do know, but they in turn have done the same and kept Nick in the dark. (Secrecy is the number one rule in the paranormal world.) Nick is brash and his language is colorful, but underneath it all, he’s got the best heart. He loves his brothers fiercely and is bound and determined to do the right thing, no matter the circumstance. I really enjoyed him and all his layers. He’s also flawed, and doesn’t even pretend he’s not. He is who he is and shows it with everything he does and says.
Jedrek, in contrast, while being powerful and strong, is more laid back and easy going. In this way, he’s the perfect balance for Nick and an outstanding support as Nick begins to navigate this world he barely knows exists. Jedrek is a source of information and comfort, support, and love throughout this whole book. And their chemistry is off the charts, sparking and sizzling from the first moment they meet. There’s no doubt why they end up in bed together, and even though their mating is accidental, it fits them both and bolsters them.
There are a lot of familiar faces in this book, with tons of secondary characters we know showing up. This book definitely needs to be read in order, in particular with the Hellhound series, as it picks up right where Hell to Pay leaves off. But also within the larger world, it works better when read in order, as all those secondary characters have been seen before. It also helps the plot flow easier, as even though the authors do a decent job giving all the information needed for this story, the more nuanced points are more relevant having read the whole universe. And the feelings and connections for the readers work better when you have the whole picture.
There are a few world inconsistencies, as well as some very minor plot points that are noticeably different from book to book. Not enough that I had a major issue, but they absolutely caught my attention. With a world as expansive as this one, and with more books to come from both these authors that tie into the world, it’s to be expected to a degree.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed this book, and it might be my favorite of this particular series. Nick is a great character and I loved the way Jedrek balanced and cared for him. Their romance is hot and loving, and balances well with the larger story. And these guys play a big role in books that come after. If you’re looking for PNR, then this series, and this book, is definitely one you should have on your list