American Hellhound by Lauren Gilley
Series: Dartmoor #6
Also in this series: Fearless, Price of Angels, The Skeleton King
Published by Self-published on May 25, 2017
Genres: Biker / MC
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Black dogs. Demons. Hellhounds. Damned souls that haunt crossroads, taking the forms of hulking dogs with glowing red eyes. Legends of the Old World, but just stories meant to scare lonely wanderers.
Knoxville, Tennessee boasts black dogs of its own: the mother chapter of the Lean Dogs Motorcycle Club. And like all legends, the Lean Dogs draw challengers from every corner of the underworld. War’s brewing in Tennessee, and the Dogs’ first family is about to face its biggest challenge yet: the past.
Ghost Teague has spent the last twenty-five years transforming a once-rough club into an empire with his queen by his side, the fearless girl who turned his life around when he needed her most. This new threat is a personal one, aimed at him, at Maggie, and it’s calling into question all the decisions they’ve made thus far. With a rival club in town, and an old nemesis preying on their doubts, they’ll have to save the city, the club, and their family. And there’s only one way to do it: together.
With past and present storylines, the sixth installment of the Dartmoor Series explores the king and queen like never before, an epic tale of rising, and ruling, and leaning on one another.
I’ve been waiting with baited breath for Ghost and Maggie’s story since I saw Ms. Gilley was working on it. Ghost, the leader of the Lean Dogs American Mother Chapter has been hard to get a handle on. His actions regarding Mercy and Ava that had kept them apart for so long were hard to swallow, his relationship with his son was less than stellar, and some of his decisions as the chapter president left me absolutely horrified at the ruthlessness he was capable of. It was difficult to separate the president who put the whole club’s needs in front of any one member from the man who had garnered the love and devotion of a woman as strong and spectacular as Maggie. To be frank, before reading American Hellhound, I just didn’t see it, nor did I like him much, but I did hold a grudging respect for the tough decisions he was willing to make for the betterment of his club.
The farther along I got into the book, the more I fell in love with Ghost. The parallels found in what happened in the past vs. what was unfolding in the present stood out like dayglo paint. The past and the present seemed to almost merge at times, but the experience of the past gave clarity to those who had lived through it and were now experiencing deja vu.
I have always respected Maggie for not only her role in the club but the strength she has shown in the past. Even before she became first lady of the Lean Dogs, she showed she was their backbone, official title or not. Like with Ghost, my respect for Maggie increased exponentially as her story unfolded. From the moment she met Ghost she was on a collision course straight to adulthood. She reached for his hand and took on Aiden without skipping a beat and became the strong woman behind the man. She gave him a reason to strive to better himself instead of just being another brother in a club that was drowning in the machinations of a mad man (Ghost’s uncle). Yes, the age difference, especially when she was underage, was difficult to process, but Ghost’s reluctance and attempts to do right by Maggie helped me get past it.
As I read, I decided that the story could have been titled Atonement. This was Ghost atoning for the sins and decisions of the past, but also a healing of sorts brought on by forgiveness – not only for wrongs done but a forgiveness of self. Ghost needed some relationships repaired, but first, he had to forgive himself for making the tough decisions required of his title. Through all this, Maggie stood by her man or led the way for him, whichever was needed most at the time. The character growth from when these two first meet to the present day was staggering. I think the best part though, was realizing how many ghosts loved his family and his boys, not only Aiden but Tango too and how hard it was to make decisions that would adversely affect them.
American Hellhound answered so many questions, including some I didn’t even know I had. It was beautifully written, gritty, and showcased an imperfect couple who were perfect together. This is a case of a book being completely worth the wait.
Spice’s Rating: 5 Atoning Stars.
A Ghostly tale of love and reign that will chill you to your bones!
American Hellhound was an epic read. A story spanning over 20 years, sharing the ups and downs of Maggie Lowe and Kenneth Teague. Two people whose destiny to rule would be shared for years to come around a campfire of how the prince found his queen and how their successful rule. The content in the story is the basis of a fairytale or nightmare, depending on your definition of both.
Fate unites Maggie & Ghost on several occasions much to the horror of Maggie’s family and her so called friends. The chemistry shared between the unlikely couple is off the charts hot. To begin with, Maggie is a mere 16 years old when she coerces Ghost into buying her alcohol. Looks are deceiving, because Maggie’s age comes as a shock to Ghost when he discovers she’s younger than she appears.
Ghost knows the difference between right and wrong. He uses every ounce of self-control to keep Maggie at bay, but Maggie has other ideas. Their platonic relationship hangs by a thread, constantly fueled by the ease at which Maggie steps into his world. Ghost not only has to deal with his appreciation for Maggie but his young son’s adoration for her as well. I had no doubt as to why Maggie found Ghost irresistible and was willing to overlook his unlawful activities. He is easy on the eye, has a heart of gold and wants nothing but the best for Maggie. Falling in love with a guy like Ghost was as easy as soaking up the warmth from the sun on a summer’s day.
Family is significantly featured with the new a massive improvement on the old. Understanding how to love, provide guidance and stand back is a challenge for the best of us. Seeing life lessons utilised in environments other than the original intended proved entertaining to say the least! Maggie and Ava’s relationship was a credit to their strong, beautiful and kick-ass personalities. They leave no doubt that behind every strong man is a strong woman. I adored the banter, especially Maggie’s ability to fit in when her back was against the wall. Her nonchalant approach to the most challenging of scenarios won her a level of respect escalating off the charts.
Good versus evil is presented throughout the story. Villains abound in all directions. The focus fell on the everyday decisions surrounding the welfare of others. Complex choices, coupled with the desire for an easy life placed Ghost between a rock and a hard place. Influenced by tough love and wanting to do right by others ensure his strong leadership. The contrast provided through past and present chapters showcased the difference in Ghost’s presidency in comparison to Duane’s. Duane’s legacy appears to have a long reach and is a poignant reminder of what not to do!
Being the sixth book in the Dartmoor series, the secondary character casting is impressive. All though, one particular character spent a long time in book purgatory and I can feel a miracle stirring my resolve to raise my feelings sufficiently to beg for his story.
This is one of the most challenging reviews I’ve written. Expressing how much I enjoyed the book without blurting out details you’ll want to read firsthand limits what I can say. American Hellhound has everything you want in an MC/Biker Romance, action, suspense, anti-hero, strong heroine, brotherhood, anarchy and danger. My final seal of approval is this book has found a place on my 2017 favourite shelf.
5 Awesome Howling Stars
A Spotify Playlist for the Dartmoor Series.
Spice added the playlists for the Dartmoor books provided by Lauren Gilley on her blog, Hoofprint Press. Along with being an awesome author, Ms. Gilley has some stellar taste in music. If you love this series and haven’t checked her blog out, you are missing out not only on playlists but lots of insight into her books, the characters, and what she’s currently working on.
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