Solomon’s life is fine. As second in command in the hellhound pack, he does his job supporting his Alpha Meshaq and carrying out his mission from the goddess to protect the secret of the supernatural world from the humans and to mete out justice when necessary. But as an alpha himself, Sol also has a need to take care of the members of his pack, especially Cody, the bartender at the pack bar. The problem is, Sol and Cody just don’t get along. Sol needs to find a way to start again with Cody.
Cody was in a bad place when he wandered into the Hair of the Dog the first time and Meshaq offered him a job. In the intervening years, he’s found a family in the staff, even if he’s not quite sure he belongs. But once Meshaq finds Drew, Cody knows he wants to find his forever man, the person that fits with him as well as Meshaq and Drew fit. The problem is he can’t find that man, and the dating app he’s tried has turned into a bust. Until he gets a message one night from someone who is different.
Sol knows that using the app he spotted on Cody’s phone is a bad idea, but the two connect immediately. He always intends to tell Cody the truth, especially when it’s clear their connection extends to real life. It’s given Sol the chance he needs to break the walls between them. But before he’s able, trouble comes knocking on the pack’s door. Cody has no idea the supernatural world exists, let alone that Sol and his pack are hellhounds. He knows something dark is going on, but he trusts Sol and they take their relationship to the next level.
With Meshaq and Drew away on a mission for the goddess, Sol has to step into the leader position, which he does well. And when Sol’s secret is revealed, Cody is brought into their world. After a minor freak out, he handles it well, and relishes the fact that he’s Sol’s mate. But the trouble is far more dangerous than anyone expected, and Cody has to step up as the beta-mate, as well. The attack on the pack and other supernatural creatures is fierce and it’s just the beginning.
Join me again in the Chosen One universe as hellhound Solomon finally finds his mate and steps into a new roll. Once again, Blake weaves all the storylines together to take the reader on a journey of love and action. This series must be read in order, and works best when also read in order with the larger universe. Fortunately, the author has compiled all the books in three volume sets that provide the order chronologically so everything fits together seamlessly.
So first off, I liked this story even better than the first, and I think that’s largely due to the MCs. Solomon is a badass, a caretaker, and sometimes painfully awkward. The combination is endearing and wonderful, and Blake does a good job of letting us really see his thoughts and feelings, so the reader knows without a doubt where he’s coming from. He’s always wanted Cody, but he’s held himself back for multiple reasons. And that has built a wall between them that has both men assuming things about the other’s feelings. It’s plain to the reader how much they want each other, and just as clear that they are standing in their own way.
Cody is snarky and funny, but he’s also really practical. He doesn’t have the best self image of himself, but he’s getting better about it. And when the wall between him and Sol begins to crack, he takes it at face value and jumps in as soon as he’s ready. I particularly liked how he handled the supernatural secret, as it felt really believable. Freaking out is to be expected, and then putting together all the pieces, accepting it, and moving forward. There’s definite humor here, and some of his lines amused me thoroughly.
And of course, the chemistry is off the charts. We get to see inklings of it in the first book, but it really shines here, as it should. The connection between these guys sparks and sizzles, and only grows as the book goes on. Though Sol and Cody have known each other for years, it makes sense that Sol didn’t recognize Cody as his mate, as the magic in the world has been messed up for a long time. But Sol recognized something in Cody that he couldn’t quite let go of, and now that the magic is beginning to heal, Solomon realizes that Cody is his mate. Despite first connecting on the app, where Sol knows he’s talking with Cody but Cody has no idea it’s Sol, I really did believe that Sol would come clean eventually. So the romance between these guys absolutely worked for me, and drove the story along.
In addition to the romance, the larger plot lines move forward as well. There are so many moving pieces in this series/universe, and it’s a lot to take in. I will say here that certain points aren’t always consistent, and there are moments that jump out at me as having been explained differently in books that came before this one. But when looked at as a whole, the important and big pieces tie together in a really fascinating way. Blake has a decent handle on the world she’s created, and this book fits in with furthering the metaplot. There’s danger and violence, but each book brings the next part of the story, and this book is no exception. When all is said and done, Sol has stepped into his new role, and has his mate by his side to help as they continue to fight the dark forces in the world.
It’s no secret I dig paranormal romance with complex world building, and Blake’s series fits the bill. Hell to Pay fits nicely into the world, with compelling characters and a lovely romance. It ties up the major plot lines for this story, while also opening doors for the next leg of the journey. Definitely pick this one up if you’re a fan of this author and this world. And if you’re looking for a new paranormal romance, consider this entire series. There’s plenty to read already and more to come.