Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars

Narrator: Michael Dean
Length: 6 hours, 5 minutes

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

As a child, Nick Smith was held captive with other children and their magic was being drained. Stuck in a half shift, he was somehow able to escape and was helped by a wonderful woman who then took him in. But Nick’s memories and magic were supressed by a charm, and now that he remembers again, he’s bound and determined to find the house where he was held and rescue the other children. When he finally finds it, however, it’s abandoned and Nick is enraged and heartbroken.

Jedrek is a hellhound, a champion of the supernatural world, tasked with its protection and enforcing the rules. He’s called to the old farmhouse where they rescued children a decade ago, only to come face to face with an enraged shifter. Jedrek does what he must, and then finds out the shifter he just knocked unconscious is none other than the Chosen One’s brother. But he has to make sure Nick is in control before he tells him that Nick’s brothers are hurt and that they need to go.

Nick changes for the first time in years and his senses are going wild. But he knows he needs to get to his brothers. After find out that they’re hurt, but okay as they can be, he agrees to head to a complex owned by a powerful magic user in order to sort himself out and try to find the ones who did this to him and the other children when they were young. Jedrek is there with him every step of the way and, right from the start, their connection is undeniable. Their mating may be accidental, but both men want it and they can’t keep their hands off each other.

But in order to find the bad guys, Nick has to do something he never imagined. He will do it willingly if it means getting the people that hurt children and saving others. But the goddesses are impressed with him and give him another task after making him whole again. Nick is an alpha with a big task, but he can’t do any of it without the help of his mate.

The Hellhound Champions series is a direct spin off of Macy Blake’s Chosen One series, and is the final book that is intertwined with that concurrent timeline. For those of you following along in timeline order, this story is still back in time a bit and is best enjoyed after book 3 in the Chosen One series, Next to Nothing, as well as after the previous book in this series, Hell to Pay.  This book, as well as the rest in the series, needs to be read in order. (Don’t worry, Blake has a comprehensive reading order on her website if you need it.)

Despite this title being co-written with Casey Drake, the writing between the authors is pretty seamless. The story flows well throughout and there’s not a clear delineation between who wrote what, which was great to see. The story fits well with the rest of the series and moves the major through plot points along. As with other books in this series, I’ve found minor inconsistencies that don’t majorly detract from the story, but do catch in my brain. The world Blake has created is large, complex, and ever changing, and this book is no exception as new information is revealed.

We don’t get to know either character before this book, as Jedrek is only seen as a background character a few times and Nick is barely mentioned. But we do have a good basis for who they are and the characters themselves show the reader their true selves very quickly. Nick, in particular, has a heartbreaking backstory. He’s trying so hard to do the right thing, even though he doesn’t know “shit about shit.” He’s grumpy and gruff, but has a heart of gold. And he’s desperate to save children from the same experiences he had.

Jedrek is strong and powerful, as he is hellhound, after all. But in contrast to Nick, he’s more laid back and easy going. He goes with the flow, takes things as they come, and deals with whatever is at hand. In that regard, Nick and Jedrek make the perfect pair, as they really balance each other out. The chemistry between them sparks from the start, and the progression of the romantic side of things feel very natural for this pair.

There are some magical twists and turns here that were somewhat unexpected. Nick has to make some choices for the greater good, and the way he does without hesitation really shows his character. He is going to do whatever it takes to keep the innocents safe, and I love how big his heart is. The choices he makes are heartbreaking in some ways, but the ultimate conclusion is so satisfying. It also sets the stage for the next phase in the world, and many of the books that come after this one.

As with all the books I’ve listened to, I really enjoy Dean’s narration. His voice has become synonymous with this world for me, and I hear his voice in my head if I’m just reading the text as well. Dean performs the books well, especially here with some of the more intense scenes. In particular, I loved the way he brought Nick’s vulnerability to the fore and really showed what a complex character Nick is. I do have to say, that again, I had trouble with some of the inconsistency in the voices. Mostly here it was from other books in the series, but there was a small amount from within this book. It always twigs my ear, but as it’s something I’ve come to expect with these books, I think I notice it more. But on the whole, I really enjoy listening to these books in audio format, and this book was no exception. Definitely pick up it up if you’ve been listening along.

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