Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars

Narrator: Michael Dean
Length: 7 hours, 17 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks

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, so 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 that he can’t find that man, and the dating app he’s tried has turned into a bust. Until Cody 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 online. 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.

The Hellhound Champions series is a spin off of the author’s Chosen One series, and the first three book are intertwined in that timeline. Because of this, these books are best enjoyed in the reading order found on the author’s website. For those of you following along with my audio reviews, this one is still back in time and the events take place after book 3, Next to Nothing.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book are the two MCs. Solomon seems grumpy and disgruntled, as well as a bit forceful. But because this story is told through dual POV, we easily are able to understand where he’s coming from. Sol is, by nature, a caretaker and I loved seeing that grow throughout the story as he comes into his own. Cody, for his part, is snarky and funny, but he misses what’s right in front of him with Sol. They play off each other well and their personalities and flaws complement one another. I also liked how realistic Cody’s freak out was when he found out the truth about Sol, but how he was able to move past that once he was able to first calm down and then piece together the clues he’s noticed throughout the years.

For the romance side of things, Cody and Sol get off to a shaky start that quickly morphs into more as they let each other in. They are fated to be together after all, but it doesn’t rely solely on that metaphysical bond. There’s a lot of communication, once Sol is finally able to reveal all of him, and they work toward their HEA. It’s easy to see why Sol didn’t realize Cody was his mate, even though they’ve known each other for years, since the magic that allows paranormal beings to recognize their mates was broken and is now changing and beginning to heal. But it’s also just as clear that Sol always felt a connection to Cody, though he had valid reasons for never acting on it. The chemistry is off the charts, and things are both spicy and sweet. I really enjoyed watching them figure themselves out and move forward in their relationship.

Of course, there’s also a larger plot line and that progresses in this story as well. Things are darker and more dangerous than first thought. I do feel some pieces are missing here, but they are given in other books, and that is mainly why this book is best enjoyed in conjunction with the Chosen One series. There are a lot of pieces and moving parts to this universe, and while it’s a lot to take in, it all ties together. While not entirely wholly consistent, the world building is complex and ever changing, and it’s not hard to gloss over the small things.

The narration was once again top notch. Dean’s voice has become synonymous with this world for me and, overall, I really enjoy the smooth, easy listening experience. With so many characters, Dean does a decent job with making voices distinct, so it’s easy to follow along, and since I’m always listening while doing something else, this really adds to the experience. It’s not wholly perfect though and, once again, I was caught with some of the character voices changing or being too similar. Overall, though, it’s a good listen and really elevates the storytelling. With this book, I especially liked the emotion Dean put behind Cody and Sol’s more vulnerable scenes. This audio series is an easy recommendation.