Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrator: Michael Dean
Length: 8 hours, 55 minutes
Aleron Eastaughffe is a griffin who knows all about power and riches. But thanks to the Oracle, he’s found himself a part of Logan’s ragtag pack and loving it. The supernatural creatures in the pack came together to face evil now that the realms are closed, and Aleron is thriving. When he’s forced to go to France to conduct some family business, he misses his pack. But more than that, he misses Spencer Walsh, the most captivating human he’s ever met.
After rescuing Taj from the clutches of Nio, the pack is racing to find answers. Bringing in Spencer, a witch with more knowledge than any of them possess, was supposed to net them answers. But those answers are harder to find than anyone expected. Spencer is in full on research mode, and his focus is solely on his books. Aleron is anxious to get back to him.
When Aleron returns, he takes the pack to the griffin island for his uncle’s weekend wedding celebration. He knows the extravagance of the festivities and his estate are more than anyone in the pack expects. Spencer doesn’t belong in that world—he knows he’s best in his solitude, on his land—but he’s enticed with the promise of books. While there, Spencer and Aleron have the opportunity to acknowledge their attraction, but Spencer is ready to go home to his remote cabin. But during the weekend, Spencer also meets The Chosen One, as well as others, and they are able to set up a meeting of the minds to hopefully find answers.
After the powwow, where very little is discovered, Aleron takes Spencer home. Neither man wants to be parted, but Spencer needs to think. When Aleron returns, the two men finally act on their attraction. But Spencer isn’t made for the city and Aleron’s lavish lifestyle any more than Aleron is made for the remoteness and solitude of Spencer’s life, and they reluctantly part ways. It’s only when Spencer is suffering the pang of loss, and with a gentle nudge from his dear friend that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, that he heads back to the city and Aleron.
Their reunion is short lived, however, when a Nio sighting has the pack in action. And when Aleron and Spencer return to the cabin, they don’t have much time before the unthinkable happens and it’s a race against time to resolve the crisis. But finally, some major clues fall into place that bring clarity to terrible mystery the pack is facing. Once the pair are reunited, nothing will stand in the way of their love.
The Chosen Champions series needs to be read in order, as the plot builds with each book released. It’s also part of the author’s larger and extensive Chosen One Universe. However, this series is more self-contained than the rest of the books in the universe, and therefore could be read without having the background knowledge from the rest. This third book in the series, however, does have quite a few secondary characters who have appeared elsewhere in the larger universe. Having read and listened to them all, I think there’s an added weight and bonus knowing these stories and having watched them as they played out. That being said, the Chosen Champions series does stand fairly well on its own.
What I really loved here was the way Blake perfectly captures the opposites attract trope. Aleron and Spencer are just about as opposite as can be. Aleron is rich, privileged, experienced in all things, loves city life, and an extrovert. Spencer lives off his land, a virgin, needs country living and his land, and an introvert. Aleron understand people, Spencer is book smart. The comparisons can keep going. Whatever one MC is, the other MC is on the other end of the spectrum. But the chemistry sparks and sizzles from the moment they meet and only continues to grow the more they interact. They complement each other in the best of ways. Their interactions never feel forced or awkward, and as their story unfolds, their love is believable. While the word mate is never uttered between them, it’s clear that the magic that is healing itself is at work here.
Blake does a really good job of balancing the romance with the advancing metaplot. The danger ramps up here to a whole new level, and parts and pieces we’ve seen in the previous books in the series come back, bigger and badder. They mystery is not wholly predictable, and I’m enjoying watching this side of things unfold. I will say, however, there were times in this book when I felt the pacing slowed down too much in regards to the mystery side of things, as though certain scenes were dragging out reveals. There were also moments where it took leaps that weren’t exactly intuitive. If the right person hadn’t been in the right place to overhear a comment, then nothing would have come from the musing. So there was a little bit of deus ex machina going on in regards to one plot point, that seemed to break things wide open.
As I have with all the books, I really enjoyed listening to this one. Dean does such a good job with the narration and the emotions, and his voice has become synonymous with this series for me. Dean has such a smooth voice that it’s wonderful to listen to, and the emotion and tension is clearly conveyed with his narration. However, as I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve had problems with some of the character voices and their consistency. Here it’s not so much the consistency, but with so many of the characters having a deep voice. While the base characters remained the same, so many of them and the secondary characters are portrayed with a deep voice that it was hard to keep track of who was speaking. They all sound far too similar. Since I’m often listening while driving or doing another task, this posed a bit of a problem. While it’s not a huge deal, it is disappointing in the regard that I enjoy the storytelling so much, that it brings things down for me.
Overall, though, I really enjoy this series and am especially enjoying listening to it. Despite my issues with it, Dean paints a picture that leaps to life with his narration. I’m really looking forward to the next installment in this series, Scout, as this one laid down the groundwork without overpowering the story. There’s still a lot to come from this author, and I have no problems recommending this series, or this universe as a whole. And if you’re looking for audios, then give these a try.