A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Salt Magic Skin Magic by Lee Welch

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Good heavens, this was outstanding! I’m shocked that a new author could produce such an in-depth, riveting, complex, historical drama like this. Every single page was better than the one before it.

The characters were complex and their relationship understated enough that it was woven into the fabric of the story but was not the most important part of this epic tale.

Soren, Lord Thornby, has been trapped on his father’s isolated country estate. No matter what he tries, he can’t seem to get beyond the boundaries. Dragged there from London with only the clothes on his back, he can’t figure out why his father has him all but chained in. In fact, it’s very odd that his entrapment isn’t physical—it’s more mental in that he forgets why he wants to leave once he’s at the border.

When John Blake, an industrial magician, arrives to investigate a claim of witchcraft, he finds much more. It appears that some dark evil force is driving Sir Dalton, Soren’s father, and it’s so unique that even John can’t tap into the source. All he knows is that Thornby is in very grave danger, and when he takes it upon himself to drag Thornby over the border, the results are disastrous and they must return without delay.

The men become involved in a story of intrigue that dates back to a time before Soren was born, to the moment his father met his mother in the North. There’s magic in the air and in order for the men, who find themselves attracted to one another, to solve the mystery, they may need to risk both their lives.

There’s no way to adequately describe this story except to say that the author has created an exceptional tale—very reminiscent of the work of KJ Charles—and this one is most definitely going to be nominated as my favorite debut of 2018. There’s so much here that I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to read it for review. Honestly, I can’t even begin to find words to encourage everyone to immediately get to the bookstore or hit that one-click button. This is simply not to be missed.

~~~

The drawn cover features all the key elements to this story: the handsome lord, the magician who saves him, the sigil, the pelt, and the ocean. Very bright and attractive, it’s perfect for this book.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book details:

ebook, 241 pages
Published August 9th 2018 by Lee Welch
ISBN139780473444518
Edition Language English

A Free Dreamer Review: Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray. When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.

To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?

While I’m not big on normal historical fiction, I absolutely love historical fantasy and Salt Magic, Skin Magic had me sold at “dark fairytale”. I had high expectations and was not disappointed.

The setting as such is quite unique. I’ve read lots and lots of fantasy of all sorts, but never before have I come across a combination of all the elements Lee Welch came up with. I loved how magic was such a normal part of life and yet still remained somewhat mysterious. There was just the right amount of world-building and I really enjoyed the whole set-up.

Both Thornby and Blake were immediately likable. They come from very different backgrounds and it was very interesting to watch them overcome those differences. There’s a huge gulf between nobility and working class, even if Blake has some rather important friends.

I liked the minor characters as well. Thornby’s aunt seemed like a fascinating woman and I’d have loved to find out more about her.

The attraction between Thornby and Blake has a delightful air of forbidden romance. Lots of sneaking about and avoiding discovery had me constantly on my toes. It gave the love story a certain amount of suspense that I liked very much. The romance unfolds slowly and is anything but rushed. I loved how these two gentlemen get all rough and dirty with each other.

The ending was completely unexpected. Of course I had my theories as to why Thornby couldn’t leave his father’s grounds, but I certainly did not expect that. There were no easy solutions to be had and I was quite satisfied with what the author came up with.

Long story short, “Salt Magic, Skin Magic” is brilliant. It’s highly unique and extremely well written. If you’re a fan of unusual fantasy with gentlemanly lovers, I’m sure you’ll love this book.

I really, really hope Lee Welch will write more fantasy. She clearly has a talent for it. It’s so hard to find really well written fantasy with a well written love story, where neither takes away from the other.

The cover is quite the eye catcher and really fits the story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book details:

ebook, 241 pages
Published August 9th 2018 by Lee Welch
ISBN139780473444518
Edition Language English

Release Blitz — Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 78,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray.


When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.


To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?


***


“Magic, folklore, dark deeds, and hot romance combine in this wildly enjoyable, inventive story set in a lovely alt-Victorian Gothic world. More please!”


—KJ Charles, RITA™-nominated author of THE MAGPIE LORD and SPECTRED ISLE


“Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch is the sort of book you want to read again the moment you reach the end. Beautifully written, with a romance that is by turns sweet and scorching, it belongs on the keeper shelf of any lover of paranormal historical.”


—Jordan L. Hawk, author of the WHYBORNE AND GRIFFIN and HEXWORLD series

 
Excerpt
 

Thornby was walking along the moorland path, calm as you please, nose in the air, apparently admiring the autumn colours in the distant oaks in the park.


“Stop, Lord Thornby! I want to talk to you.”


Thornby walked faster, slight limp becoming more pronounced.


“Stop, I say!”


John felt in his pockets for his vials and pouches, then changed his mind and simply put on speed. He’d come to this remote part of the grounds in the hope of a rest. He’d not slept much last night with the walls of Raskelf muttering and whispering, and the antiquities from Egypt shrieking muffled curses from the other side of the corridor.


The thought of Thornby had kept him awake as well; so resistant to the Judas Voice—that had given John an unpleasant moment—and so unapproachable, with that aristocratic hauteur you could never breach. And so strange. Why did the man wear such peculiar clothes? Today it was tight black pantaloons and a high stock that would have been fashionable forty years ago. And over this bizarre Regency costume was a rusty black greatcoat with wide cuffs, and a tricorn hat that would have looked well in the previous century.


And, yes, Thornby was handsome—heart-stoppingly so—with arrogant grey eyes, a mane of brown hair that almost reached his collar, and a preposterous red mouth. He was tall and thin and carried himself like a fencer. There was, too, something whip-taut about him, some unbearable tension that made you feel he might lash out. Or suddenly kiss you. Thornby had looked John up and down when he was introduced, finally unbending so far as to give John a slight inclination of the head. And John’s mouth had gone as dry as if Thornby had extended one of those elegant white hands and given his balls a gentle squeeze.


It was tiresome, really. It made it so much harder to concentrate. He must make sure he didn’t allow his attraction to the man to cloud his judgement. Possibly Thornby was using a glamour spell. John couldn’t sense one, but sometimes by their very nature they were difficult to detect.


So, he mustn’t think about how good it would be to slide his fingers inside Thornby’s old black pantaloons, how good it would be to taste his lovely mouth, and wipe that damned snooty expression off his face. If John had been in London, he would have gone to one of the houses that catered to men of his taste, and tried to forget about it. Here in the middle of rural Yorkshire it was far too dangerous to approach anyone, and in any case, farm lads were not his type. He’d simply leave as soon as he could tell Catterall he’d done his best.


They walked in single file for perhaps five minutes. The path smelt of rotting leaves, and a biting wind began to make its presence felt as they crossed into an open piece of moorland. Splashes of muddy water were spotting the back of Thornby’s coat. John used the close proximity to feel for magic. Like last night at dinner, he could sense nothing emanating from Thornby. There was certainly no demon reek, so Thornby probably wasn’t a theurgist, or if he was, he was a very fastidious one.


But then Thornby didn’t feel like a materials man either, and John could generally recognise his own kind. So, how had Thornby broken those charms? Now John was closer, and had longer to concentrate on Thornby alone, he thought there might be something magical, at the very edge of his awareness, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Most magicians used demons or materials, but there were other ways, so perhaps Thornby used some unfamiliar method.


John charged his ward stone, and put it back in his pocket. He patted his bag of salt and checked his Gelomorous twine and the demon trap, just in case. Whatever spells Thornby cared to throw at him, he was ready. In fact, he was almost looking forward to a fight.


They reached an open place a hundred yards from a small pine spinney. The dark trees were contorted sideways as if fleeing the icy wind. The sun, behind its grey pall of cloud, was beginning to set. Thornby suddenly stopped and swung around.


“Well, Mr Blake? I suppose you’d like to explain yourself?” Thornby’s chin was up, beautiful mouth curved in disdain.

 
Author Bio
 

Lee Welch wrote her first book aged seven (a pastiche of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and first had an idea for an m/m romance aged twelve. She loves books and comics, and when she’s not writing, she’ll probably be reading. Her favourite authors include Ursula Le Guin, Graham Greene, Linda Medley, Dylan Horrocks and KJ Charles. By day, Lee works as an editor and business communications adviser, mainly persuading people not to say ‘utilise’ when they mean ‘use’. Her job has led her to work in areas as diverse as mental health, nursing, accident prevention and the criminal justice sector.


Lee loves to hear from readers. You can find her at:
www.leewelchwriter.com
Twitter: @leewelchwriter
Facebook: www.facebook.com/leewelchwriter

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A Stella Review: Mended With Gold by Lee Welch

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

A photographer with post-traumatic stress disorder falls for a comics artist on a wild New Zealand beach, but can he find true love when he feels so wounded by life?

Everything changed when the bomb exploded. Forty-five-year old, Alex Cox worked as an international photographer until a deadly explosion left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. Emotionally wounded, and desperate for a sense of safety, he’s run all the way to wild and remote Kahawai Bay, New Zealand.

Under the worst possible circumstances, Alex meets Joe, a shy young comics artist. Joe lets Alex into his playful, gentle world of comics, and soon Alex is falling for him, hard. Alex longs for more. Joe is reticent. But is it shyness? Or does Joe not want a much older lover with ‘issues’? Or is something else keeping them apart?

This is a tender and uplifting story about creativity, adversity, true love, and comics.

Mended With Gold is the first book I read by Lee Welch and I have to say it was a lovely surprise. I soon connected with the story and the characters, maybe because the author hit one of my weakness with these kind of souls like Alex and Joe. I love scarred characters, their pain makes them more real, troubled like we all are. I adore couples with an age difference and in some ways here it was evident Alex was more experienced than the younger Joe, but since life had not been easy on both of them, I later found them well matched and truly enjoyed the time I get to learn about their love.

Considering this is just a novella, I think the author developed quite well the characters and the plot, I found the setting particular and beautiful, that said to me Mended With Gold ended with a HFN and I would love to meet Alex and Joe again in a new book, and see them how they gained their HEA. I feel to recommend this story and I will definitely look for other works by the author.

The cover art by Melody Pond is lovely, clean and fitting. I like it.

Sales Links:  MLR Books | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 94 pages

Published November 17th 2017 by MLR Press

ASIN B077365FMD

Edition Language English