Meshaq is the alpha of the hellhounds, the champions of the fire goddess and protectors of the paranormal world. His job is to lead his pack and keep the secret of the magical world from the regular humans. He runs a bar, Hair of the Dog, where he employs his pack, as well as a few humans he considers his. Meshaq has a penchant for collecting strays who need help, so when he sees a fear-stricken man enter the bar, it makes sense that he immediately wants to help.
Drew’s life has turned upside down. Everything was perfectly normal until a few weeks ago when a creepy, seemingly violent man started stalking him. When the man showed up at Drew’s apartment, Drew knew he had to run. Desperate, out of gas and money, he ends up at Hair of the Dog. Drew is leery of trusting the big man who offers help, but he’s also strangely drawn to Meshaq.
Meshaq convinces Drew that he wants nothing more than to help him, and has Drew come to his home. Drew doesn’t understand why he feels safe with Meshaq and his pack, but as the days go on, he’s drawn even more to Meshaq. Meshaq wants nothing more than to provide and take care of Drew. It’s not readily apparent, but Meshaq realizes that Drew is his mate, a very rare thing in their world these days.
But there are dark forces in the world, and some of them want Drew. It’ll take the help of friends and the pack to keep him safe. Not to mention, Meshaq and Drew’s mating opens whole new possibilities no one expected.
The Hellhound Champions series is a spin off set firmly in Blake’s Chosen One universe and is interwoven within the main five books. The series takes place on a concurrent timeline as the main books, and characters cross between both. For me, it makes things more complete reading all the books in both series in order. Blake currently has released three volumes that include both the Chosen One series and the Hellhound Champions series, and each book is placed where it falls chronologically for the most complete reading experience.
Meshaq drew me in immediately because he’s the quintessential thing we love about alphas. He’s fiercely protective, intimidating, and sometimes scary, but he has a heart of gold and wants nothing but the best for his pack. We get to know him right off the bat, as he surveys his bar and thinks about how he wants to grow his pack, but his hellhounds, and his human packmates—even though they don’t know the secret—mean everything to him. He’s also completely dedicated to his goddess and to his duty, as hellhounds are tasked with protecting the secret of paranormal kind. Meshaq is just all around a good guy, even when he has to be scary, and I instantly liked him.
Drew is scared when he first appears on page, and he’s running from bad situation. Blake does a good job of getting the reader into his head right away, and seeing his conflicting emotions playing out in his own thoughts and words goes a long way to pulling the reader in. He doesn’t understand why he’s so drawn to Meshaq, but at the same time, he trusts his gut and goes with it. The chemistry between the MCs builds, and when Meshaq’s secret is revealed it’s a major turning point. Not only for Drew, who has to reconcile that magic and supernatural creatures really do exist and that he’s the mate of one, but for the rest of the pack and the humans they call theirs. I like how Blake took these revelations, gave the characters enough confusion and doubt to make their questioning believable, but also had laid down a foundation of enough trust that things made sense when they resolved quickly.
This is Meshaq and Drew’s love story, and their relationship moves quickly, as fated mates often do. But their chemistry works and their relationship makes sense. It doesn’t take long for Drew to move into the alpha-mate role, and their feelings develop fast. But it also sets off a chain of events no one expects. Magic is changing in the world, and now that the right pieces are on the board, the game is in play. Long dead clues are resurfacing, and the possibility of finally having answers drive the characters.
And this is why I say that this is a book that, even though is a new spin off from the main series, needs to be read in conjunction with the other series. The world building is intricate, and characters and plot line cross between the two. It’s no secret that I like Blake’s world building, though there are some inconsistencies from one book to the next that are noticeable. Blake does a decent job of trying to account for those, but it doesn’t always work. And really, I think these are the only downsides to the book. While I love cross over series such as this, especially ones set in the same world, it’s also slightly intimidating to have to read multiple books across series to get the full picture. And then when that picture changes slightly, or rules are broken to accommodate plot lines, in other books, I can’t help, as a reader, to think “but that’s not how you said it worked before.”
Ultimately, I dig this world Blake’s created, and I really liked this book. I think it made sense to start with the alpha and establish his story, especially knowing where things are headed for him and his mate. This book is just the beginning, and it ties up the major plot lines for the book, while also opening new ones for the next book in the story. If you’re a fan of the author, this universe, or looking for new paranormal, then pick this one up.