When Achim’s sigil goes off, he knows he has to heed the call, even though it burns and feels different than when the Goddess usually calls him into action. When the flames of the portal are purple instead of the usual red, he’s cautioned not to go. But Achim is a hellhound, champion of the fire Goddess, and he would never ignore her call. Of course, he ends up trapped in literal hell and meets someone running from actual hellhounds.
Ozias is the prince of hell, and he’s astonished when a human shows up in his realm. Together, they escape the hellhound pack, but there’s a pull between them that they can’t ignore. Hiding out from the terrors of the landscape, they connect on every level. And it’s only after they’re faced with another threat that Ozias learns the man who intrigues him so much is not a human, but a hellhound shifter. Even though they both know Achim can’t stay, Ozias marks him as his own. And with Ozias’ mother’s help, Achim goes back to the human realm with the promise that Ozias will follow.
It takes him a while, but Ozias finally makes it to Achim. They get off to a rocky start, mostly because Achim can’t believe that Ozias is finally there. It doesn’t take long for them to work it out, and they get to know one another even more. But there are nefarious beings afoot, and Ozias is the only one who can even hope to stop them. Together with the hellhound pack, as well as other champions, they track down the evil with the intent to stop it. But that sets off a whole new set of events that will change the world, and Achim and Ozias’ bond and mating won’t be enough to keep them together. Not when they both have duties and loyalties they can’t set aside. Unless they can find a way.
Okay, before I delve into the review, there’s a couple of points I have to bring up right off the bat. The first is that the beginning of this story was originally published as a short story Hell Freezes Over. It’s not necessary to have read it, as it’s literally the first part of this book, but if you have read it, you know there’s more to Achim and Ozias’ story and that their meeting there was just the beginning.
The second thing is that this story, as part of the Chosen One Universe, is part of the larger metaplot that has been weaving its way through Blake’s various series. It doesn’t work well as a standalone and, at the very least, needs to be read after the rest of the Hellhound Champions series. But even more importantly, it should be read within the context of the universe at large. Blake has most of the universe in box sets that make it easy to read in order, and there’s also a tab on her website that gives the reading order if you need it.
Now onto the review.
This book has a slightly different feel than the rest of the series, and by that I mean it’s a little more in depth than the ones that come before. It still has Blake’s trademark style, fun and fleshed out characters, and lots of love and hot sex. Achim has been a secondary character throughout much of the series, so it’s great to see him in the spotlight here. Ozias is a good counterpoint to him, and I liked the way they balanced each other out. Ozias is a little more stiff, and it makes sense since he’s the actual prince of hell. He definitely has a royal air about him. But Blake manages to make their connection believable and real, and it’s easy to go with the fated aspect of their mating. Neither man quite believes that at first, but the way they’re drawn to each other speaks volumes. As far as the romance plotline goes, it’s fairly typical for what you would expect from this world. It works though, and I was glad to see Achim meet his mate.
But the rest of the story is, for me, where the plot really shines. And to be honest, things have been building for a while across all the books. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, because that’s definitely spoiler territory, but I will say there are twists that are quite surprising. Certain problems come to a head, and the resolution is quite dramatic. New characters are introduced in the last quarter of the book that open up a lot of new questions, while at the same time set things up for what we’ll see from this series and universe in the future.
And there is a lot more to come. Not only with more of the Hellhound series, but several new ones too, which will expound even more on what the author has set up in this book. The romance is tied up with an incredibly solid HFN here, so don’t worry about that, and so are the immediate problems. But with a surprise ending that sets all the inhabitants of this world on a new path, you can be sure there will be quite a bit to deal with in the future.
Overall, this book slots really well into the universe, and it’s definitely a turning point. If you’re a fan of the series, this is one you can’t miss. If you haven’t begun, but magic, shifters, and epic problems that are resolved by men who fall in love and save the world sound good, you’ll need to start at the beginning. I, for one, love how complex this world is and appreciate that the writing here seems to have stepped up a notch as new plot lines are revealed. I’m absolutely looking forward to more.