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Salt Magic, Skin Magic

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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 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?


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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 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?

30 review for Salt Magic, Skin Magic

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    Who are you, Lee Welch, and where did you come from?! I. AM. GAGGED. Salt Magic Skin Magic took me completely by surprise. I had never heard of Lee Welch before picking up this book, but I decided to give it a go because it reminded me of a K.J. Charles-ish story. I was completely blown away by what I found. If you are looking for that perfect blend of magic and historical romance that is so hard to find, look no further. I loved the gloomy, dark English countryside setting with the crumbling ca Who are you, Lee Welch, and where did you come from?! I. AM. GAGGED. Salt Magic Skin Magic took me completely by surprise. I had never heard of Lee Welch before picking up this book, but I decided to give it a go because it reminded me of a K.J. Charles-ish story. I was completely blown away by what I found. If you are looking for that perfect blend of magic and historical romance that is so hard to find, look no further. I loved the gloomy, dark English countryside setting with the crumbling castle and murky, magical vibes. I loved the contrast of the high-born, proud English lord and a working-class magician. I liked the sexual tension and I loved the magical world, though I could have used more world-building, for sure. In fact, I hope we get other books in the series with other MCs, just so I can learn MORE about Lee Welch's creation. The plot kept me guessing, and it had that elusive quality that makes you think, just one more page. I needed to know what was going to happen next. I was also really surprised that Salt Magic Skin Magic was this author's first full length book. It felt polished and professional, and really reflected all of the hard work and editing that must have gone into it, which I really appreciated. I was going to give this book 4.5 stars because it's not quite perfect, but I stayed up past 2 am last night to finish; I just could NOT put it down. Any book that has me reading all night is a winner. Lee Welch is an author to watch. *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

  2. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    DISCLAIMER I edited this book. I enjoyed this one gigantically. The opening is terrifically creepy and compelling, the magic system is really unusual and intriguing--John's magic is gloriously inventive in particular--the romance is emotional and hot, the setting is Gothically vivid, and the author manages, extraordinarily, to make me absolutely desperate for a sequel starring a character that we haven't even seen on page. A lovely new voice in historical paranormal romance. More please! (Note: I DISCLAIMER I edited this book. I enjoyed this one gigantically. The opening is terrifically creepy and compelling, the magic system is really unusual and intriguing--John's magic is gloriously inventive in particular--the romance is emotional and hot, the setting is Gothically vivid, and the author manages, extraordinarily, to make me absolutely desperate for a sequel starring a character that we haven't even seen on page. A lovely new voice in historical paranormal romance. More please! (Note: I am chary about reviewing books I edited but I've decided it's not significant conflict of interest given I'm not taking on new work now. Others may disagree. Whatever.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    * A Reader Obsessed *

    4.5 Duly Impressed Hearts I must say, this brought the best of historical romance and seamlessly mixed it with a new twist on magic as well as a known fantastical legend. This starts off with Lord Thornby who is trapped. His father has made it his sole purpose to marry him off for personal greed and until Thornby agrees, he can’t leave the family estate. Literally. Surely that’s not possible right? Is Thornby slowly losing his mind from being confined for so long? When mysterious guest Mr. Blake ar 4.5 Duly Impressed Hearts I must say, this brought the best of historical romance and seamlessly mixed it with a new twist on magic as well as a known fantastical legend. This starts off with Lord Thornby who is trapped. His father has made it his sole purpose to marry him off for personal greed and until Thornby agrees, he can’t leave the family estate. Literally. Surely that’s not possible right? Is Thornby slowly losing his mind from being confined for so long? When mysterious guest Mr. Blake arrives, the hope he brings at possibly setting Thornby free is a thought too good to be true! However, his claim that magic is real is preposterous! Or is it? I admit this started off a bit slow, but soon the tension builds, slowly ratcheting up the psychological suspense for our two protagonists. When things don’t easily fall into place and Blake can’t quite explain how and why Thornby is unable to move beyond the estate’s boundaries, the desperation is hard felt as time starts to run out. What this succeeds at is the slow progression of the relationship between Thornby and Blake. Each are a lot suspicious of the other but as more and more is revealed, they realize that to have an ally, and an amorous one at that, is definitely a relief, a comfort, and a boon. I quite enjoyed the subtle nuances of this story and the insecurities and vulnerabilities of these two men who were so used to being on their own, isolated due to their own disparate stations in life and by of course, their sexuality. What they discover in the other was something fabulous and refreshing which was often counterbalanced by the heavy atmospheric feel as the mystery and questions pile up. This all leads to an explosive reveal that had me at the edge of my seat and reading well into the night. If you want something smart and different and full of weighty emotions, then this is it! Throw in a good dose of paranormal fantasy with nicely done dashes of sexy dirty, and one gets quite the welcome wonderful tale! My only complaint is that Lee Welch hasn’t written more and that’s a completely unabashed plea to do so in this fascinating historical AU! Thank you to the author/publisher for a copy in exchange for a honest review

  4. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Real Rating: 4.75* of five Almost perfect in its genre. Almost! I'm amazed, astounded, delighted that it was such a top-flight romance, since it came by way of a newly minted author. And what a coinage Author Welch has struck! Confident, unhesitant strokes of imagination and inspiration, several passages that made me stop. dead. and. savor, just a wonderful reading experience all the way around. Real Rating: 4.75* of five Almost perfect in its genre. Almost! I'm amazed, astounded, delighted that it was such a top-flight romance, since it came by way of a newly minted author. And what a coinage Author Welch has struck! Confident, unhesitant strokes of imagination and inspiration, several passages that made me stop. dead. and. savor, just a wonderful reading experience all the way around.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cadiva

    Wow, what a refreshing change from the usual historical romance that was! Absolutely brilliant Victoriana with a magical twist looking at traditional British/Irish mythology and magic which is based on the "scientific" ideals of John Dee back in the time of Queen Elizabeth. I love the thought that Dee's thoughts were based on something real and that people went on to study thermatology, alchemy, the magic of inanimate objects etc and made careers out of it. There's a lovely tie in with the Crystal Wow, what a refreshing change from the usual historical romance that was! Absolutely brilliant Victoriana with a magical twist looking at traditional British/Irish mythology and magic which is based on the "scientific" ideals of John Dee back in the time of Queen Elizabeth. I love the thought that Dee's thoughts were based on something real and that people went on to study thermatology, alchemy, the magic of inanimate objects etc and made careers out of it. There's a lovely tie in with the Crystal Palace of Joseph Paxton, constructed in London's Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851, which one of our erstwhile heroes was involved in the magical protection of. The plot itself, and the twists within it, isn't going to be spoiled in this review. For a long, long time I had no idea where the mystery was going to go and the book is better for that. When I began to get an inkling of where it was heading, I must admit I got quite giddy! John and Soren are so beautiful together, hesitant and mistrusting at the beginning, they slowly come to understand that they have found the other half of their perfect whole. The sex scenes are superbly done, very much in language suitable for the period and quite, quite erotic as John proves he has command over more than just his salt, iron and other magic components. I could keep going about this book because it just ticked pretty much all my boxes but I think it's one which people will love the most when they go in blind so I'll just say bravo Lee Welch for something so completely different from your debut published novel! #ARC kindly provided by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

  6. 4 out of 5

    Renée

    This was a new-to-me author, and I really enjoyed Welch's writing style. It's engaging and flows easily. There was a great deal of potential here, but the plot left me wanting, unfortunately. Soren is trapped on his father's estate. He reacts violently every time he tries to leave. John Blake arrives on the estate, and, as a magician, sees about breaking whatever spell, curse, or other thing is keeping Soren trapped on this piece of property. The romance was done well, and it evolved naturally. Wi This was a new-to-me author, and I really enjoyed Welch's writing style. It's engaging and flows easily. There was a great deal of potential here, but the plot left me wanting, unfortunately. Soren is trapped on his father's estate. He reacts violently every time he tries to leave. John Blake arrives on the estate, and, as a magician, sees about breaking whatever spell, curse, or other thing is keeping Soren trapped on this piece of property. The romance was done well, and it evolved naturally. With alternating POVs, character development was on point too. So what was lackluster about this, for me? This book had everything. Too much. The paranormal aspect of this book was on steroids. I couldn't keep up, and then another type of "being" would be thrown in the mix. The pacing slowed a lot for me in the middle of the book, even though there was always something happening. I found myself growing bored, but forcing myself along. It would all come together and make sense soon enough, right? Well.....it all went somewhere, but I can't say that it came together and made sense. I'm still scratching my head about some small tidbits. And, if I'm honest, the ending was a little less than satisfying. I was left with questions about "Where do they go from here?" Overall, this was a strong story that I'd say needs a bit more polishing. As a historical fantasy from a newer author, I was intrigued and I'd consider something else from this author in the future.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christelle

    **3.5 stars** Not a real fan of magical historical romance, but I was very curious about this release and eager to give it a try. The writing is really good and it’s adequately fast-paced : a page turner. However, the plot confused me. Maybe because I’m a newbie for this genre ? Renée’s review well described my thoughts. As I had just read The Magpie Lord, I couldn’t help making the comparison. I enjoyed the magical plot more in The Magpie Lord, and the sexual tension and romance more in this bo **3.5 stars** Not a real fan of magical historical romance, but I was very curious about this release and eager to give it a try. The writing is really good and it’s adequately fast-paced : a page turner. However, the plot confused me. Maybe because I’m a newbie for this genre ? Renée’s review well described my thoughts. As I had just read The Magpie Lord, I couldn’t help making the comparison. I enjoyed the magical plot more in The Magpie Lord, and the sexual tension and romance more in this book. In overall, I liked this book and I’m warming up to the fantasy/magic romance genre. I’m sure that the fans will greatly enjoy this story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Teal

    *** 3.5 stars *** I ended up a little disappointed by this. My expectations were probably set too high by how much I loved Mended with Gold and Out Loud. Most of my dissatisfaction came in the early chapters, where it seemed that Soren's characterization was all over the place. Eventually that settled down, and the second half of the story seemed pretty solid in comparison. What I really loved about the book, much to my surprise, was the magic. Normally I have no particular interest in magic -- wh *** 3.5 stars *** I ended up a little disappointed by this. My expectations were probably set too high by how much I loved Mended with Gold and Out Loud. Most of my dissatisfaction came in the early chapters, where it seemed that Soren's characterization was all over the place. Eventually that settled down, and the second half of the story seemed pretty solid in comparison. What I really loved about the book, much to my surprise, was the magic. Normally I have no particular interest in magic -- when I read fantasy with magical elements, I'm interested in the story and the characters (like I am with everything else I read), and as far as I'm concerned the magic is just so much window dressing. But here I was entranced by John's evolving relationship with his tools. When, near the end, his magic began to interact with (view spoiler)[Soren's revealed nature (hide spoiler)] , I was so intrigued by the inherent possibilities that had there been a sequel I would have snatched it up immediately. So, while it was a mixed bag, at The End I wanted more, and Lee Welch remains on my "Yes" list of authors.

  9. 5 out of 5

    h o l l i s

    Recently I saw advance praise (two five stars in a row!) of SALT MAGIC SKIN MAGIC from folks on my flist and I'm not ashamed to admit that without really even knowing what this book was about, it sent me scurrying, almost immediately, to get my hands on this book. And boy am I ever glad I did. I had only a vague idea of what this book was about, seeing as I am mostly averse to blurbs and tend to skim only for keywords as I like to keep the mystery alive, and right away the opening chapter hooked Recently I saw advance praise (two five stars in a row!) of SALT MAGIC SKIN MAGIC from folks on my flist and I'm not ashamed to admit that without really even knowing what this book was about, it sent me scurrying, almost immediately, to get my hands on this book. And boy am I ever glad I did. I had only a vague idea of what this book was about, seeing as I am mostly averse to blurbs and tend to skim only for keywords as I like to keep the mystery alive, and right away the opening chapter hooked me. Who was this character, what was going on, was this a haunting or a curse or a mental illness.. what. I needed to know more. And that's basically the driving force behind the story. It unfolds slowly, teasing us with bits here and there, toying with us to understand. And yes, there is a curse, there's madness, obsession, magic, strangeness, and salt. Also quite a few surprises along the way. Soren was used to people wanting him. John actually liked him. I'll admit that the latter half of the story felt a bit stronger than the first, as there were times my attention wandered, though that perhaps wasn't helped by me being sleepy on a dreary lazy post-hangover sunday (#noragrets), and I chose to overlook the unlikeliness of one of the sexy scenes happening at a particular time because it was hot.. and hey, this is a good time to point out that despite that comment, I liked how Welch didn't shove our faces in the intimate scenes. And how there was real doubt, and uncertainty, and each character questioned the pull, the connection, and weren't inclined to be all 'hey this is all very normal and I'll just go with the flow'. So many romances that occur in life threatening, or action-packed circumstances, are rarely given this kind of consideration and I really appreciated that. I also appreciated the escalation of the scenes themselves instead of just diving right in to fullblown sex. It was very well done. "If you give me a cockstand in public I'll never forgive you. These breeches are awfully tight." "Yes, thank you, I noticed." And yes, I realize I've spent more time talking about how they got it on vs the plot but that's because it's spoilery and a mystery and y'all know I don't spoil and am the queen of vague. That said, though, there are villains that might not have been villains at the onset, there are red herrings, and paranormal doings, and inanimate objects that might not be precisely inanimate. But there were also lighthearted moments, real sweetness, and connection. Also I will never look at salt the same way. SALT MAGIC SKIN MAGIC is moody, atmospheric, a little creepy, beautiful, tragic, and twisty. I am so happy I had a chance to read this one and I fully anticipate people going gangbusters over this release and this new-to-us-all author. I am definitely on the hook for more books in this world. If you love that particular blend of historical, paranormal, and romance that KJ Charles does so well, I would highly recommend you read this debut. 4 "you fucked him for his diction?" stars ** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

  10. 4 out of 5

    Len Evans Jr

    First off I just want to say that I am extremely impressed at the wonderful characters the author has peopled this book with, as well as the complex and awesome system of magic she put together for this book. This story was riviting, suspenseful and beautiful. I love Soren and John... together they are perfection. If the author can write like this for her second book... I can't wait t0 see what amazing things she does in her third! First off I just want to say that I am extremely impressed at the wonderful characters the author has peopled this book with, as well as the complex and awesome system of magic she put together for this book. This story was riviting, suspenseful and beautiful. I love Soren and John... together they are perfection. If the author can write like this for her second book... I can't wait t0 see what amazing things she does in her third!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Caz

    4.5 stars rounded up. First of all - don't let that horrible cover put you off! Salt Magic, Skin Magic is a very impressive almost-début novel from Lee Welch – I say ‘almost’, because the author has previously published a novella – and I devoured it in two sittings.  I’m not widely-read in the fantasy genre, but the premise seemed quite unique, the world-building – in terms of the rules governing the use of magic – is well-thought out and explained, and the two central characters are engaging and 4.5 stars rounded up. First of all - don't let that horrible cover put you off! Salt Magic, Skin Magic is a very impressive almost-début novel from Lee Welch – I say ‘almost’, because the author has previously published a novella – and I devoured it in two sittings.  I’m not widely-read in the fantasy genre, but the premise seemed quite unique, the world-building – in terms of the rules governing the use of magic – is well-thought out and explained, and the two central characters are engaging and strongly defined. Soren Dezombrey, Lord Thornby, lives a life devoted to pleasure in London, as is usual for many heirs-in-waiting.  He is estranged from his father, the Marquess of Dalton, whom he hasn’t seen for twenty years, so is naturally surprised when the marquess visits him in town and insists that Soren returns to the family’s Yorkshire estate of Raskelf Hall so that he can marry one of two heiresses selected for him.  In fact, the marquess does more than insist; his servants overpower Soren and force him into the carriage, and Soren is now a prisoner in his own home.  For the past eighteen months, he’s been at Raskelf – and he can’t leave.  Literally.  He isn’t bound or locked in; he can go wherever he pleases within the estate boundary, but whenever he gets close to it, he starts to panic, think the nineteenth century equivalent of “damn, I’ve left the oven on!” and immediately turns back and returns to the hall. John Blake is a down-to-earth industrial magician, an exponent of inanimate magic, which is regarded in magical circles as lesser, more common magic than that practiced by Theurgists, who summon demons to do their magic for them and so don’t get their hands dirty.  His normal line of work is in factories and other industrial buildings, where he is employed to ward against things like fires, injuries or accidents, so the request to visit the home of a nobleman is a very unusual one.  But a friend – who happens to be Lady Dalton’s cousin – tells him that the lady is terrified that her stepson is using magic with intent to harm her, and he asks John to visit Raskelf as a favour.  John reluctantly agrees to go, and immediately senses that there’s something not right.  The house is literally drenched In ancient magic, curses and things John doesn’t understand, and even odder is the fact that Thornby seems to be completely immune to his magic.  John’s curiosity is aroused – as are other things, because Thornby, while the epitome of the arrogant, disdainful nobleman, is quite the most beautiful man John has ever seen. At first, what he sees would seem to support the idea that Thornby is indeed a malevolent force within the household, and he takes little heed of the latter’s insistence that he holds no ill-will towards Lady Dalton and that he is unable to leave the estate.  It’s only when he witnesses first-hand – by marching Thornby forcibly across the estate boundary – the other man’s struggles to return and then watches as horrible wounds appear on his face that he at last comes to realise that there’s something truly sinister at work at Raskelf and to believe that Thornby is an unwitting pawn in a dangerous game… but what exactly is going on and who is pulling the strings? Lee Welch has created an original, riveting magical fantasy in Salt Magic, Skin Magic, which combines an intriguing, tightly-constructed and high-stakes plot laden with mysticism, magic and suspense with a warm, tender romance between two men at opposite ends of the social spectrum who should, by rights, never have met.  The chemistry between Soren and John is intense right from the start, although neither is happy about the degree to which they’re drawn to the other man; and I loved the evolution of their relationship as it progressed from antagonism and suspicion to trust, affection and soul-deep belief in each other. Their interactions are flirty, funny and tender, and the romance develops in a wholly believable, organic way. Salt Magic, Skin Magic is unquestionably one of the most original, compelling books I’ve read this year, and I’m eager to see what Ms. Welch comes up with next.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    5 Stars I loved this story! I read it in one night; could not put it down. The combination of historical romance, mystery, and fairy tale was fantastic. Soren, Lord Thornby, is trapped on his father’s country estate. He cannot physically/mentally cross the boundaries of his father’s land. The townsfolk think him insane, and his father’s new wife thinks he is dabbling in witchcraft. John Blake, an industrial magician of working-class origins, comes to the Yorkshire estate to investigate rumors of wi 5 Stars I loved this story! I read it in one night; could not put it down. The combination of historical romance, mystery, and fairy tale was fantastic. Soren, Lord Thornby, is trapped on his father’s country estate. He cannot physically/mentally cross the boundaries of his father’s land. The townsfolk think him insane, and his father’s new wife thinks he is dabbling in witchcraft. John Blake, an industrial magician of working-class origins, comes to the Yorkshire estate to investigate rumors of witchcraft. He is predisposed to stigmatize Soren because of their class differences, but he discovers that the handsome and volatile Soren is not who/what he first appears. For me, the element of magic in this story is so well done and so thoroughly developed, that it reads like another character. This story focuses on Soren, John, and Magic (to be more specific: objects imbued with magic). I was absolutely spellbound (forgive my pun) with Welch’s creative worldbuilding and vivid descriptions. To tell too much about the story would spoil the many twists and turns, and since I loved this, I am having the hardest time writing a coherent review. May I just say that I highly recommend it, and hope that other readers discover this fantastic author?!!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Skye Kilaen

    Mini-review: I'm so glad people on romance Twitter were raving about this paranormal historical M/M romance. Soren being trapped on the estate at the beginning was terrifying and grabbed me immediately, and then I stayed for the lovely magical worldbuilding and the relationship. I can't wait to see more from this author. If you're in doubt, give it a try. Mini-review: I'm so glad people on romance Twitter were raving about this paranormal historical M/M romance. Soren being trapped on the estate at the beginning was terrifying and grabbed me immediately, and then I stayed for the lovely magical worldbuilding and the relationship. I can't wait to see more from this author. If you're in doubt, give it a try.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    I first heard this tale from Clarissa Pinkola Estes of Women Who Run with the Wolves fame. Clarissa tells a lot of tales in her books and I'm not going to tell you which tale I'm referring to. Please just take it from me that Lee Welch take on this particular tale is brilliantly done in my opinion. Subtle good writing with character. This character is then infused in all around even the most unexpected. Well did you ever imagine that salt can be a character in itself, well read this and see. I first heard this tale from Clarissa Pinkola Estes of Women Who Run with the Wolves fame. Clarissa tells a lot of tales in her books and I'm not going to tell you which tale I'm referring to. Please just take it from me that Lee Welch take on this particular tale is brilliantly done in my opinion. Subtle good writing with character. This character is then infused in all around even the most unexpected. Well did you ever imagine that salt can be a character in itself, well read this and see.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Al *the semi serial series skipper*

    Wow, this was terrific. Very good for a debut!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bookreader87(Amanda)

    Soren Lord Thornbery is trapped on his father's land by a curse. A curse he believes his father placed on him. Every time he tries to leave somthing pulls him back. After a year and a half he fears he is close to madness. Mr. Blake has been hired to help the new Mrs. Dalton. She fears her husband's son, Lord Thornbery, has placed a curse on her. When Mr. Blake shows up he finds things are not what they appear. Overall an ok read. Soren Lord Thornbery is trapped on his father's land by a curse. A curse he believes his father placed on him. Every time he tries to leave somthing pulls him back. After a year and a half he fears he is close to madness. Mr. Blake has been hired to help the new Mrs. Dalton. She fears her husband's son, Lord Thornbery, has placed a curse on her. When Mr. Blake shows up he finds things are not what they appear. Overall an ok read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lost in a Book

    4.25 Stars Well, Well, Well. This is a captivating (and a tad gruesome) read. Sign me up for immediate membership into Lee Welch’s fan club. I'll patiently await my official VIP card, please and thank you. Lord Thornby is trapped on his father’s estate. Still. After being kept there somehow for well over a year, the days are bleeding together and he’s barely keeping a hold on his sanity. Thornby's father and step-mother arrive back in town and there’s an increase in the already peculiar happenings 4.25 Stars Well, Well, Well. This is a captivating (and a tad gruesome) read. Sign me up for immediate membership into Lee Welch’s fan club. I'll patiently await my official VIP card, please and thank you. Lord Thornby is trapped on his father’s estate. Still. After being kept there somehow for well over a year, the days are bleeding together and he’s barely keeping a hold on his sanity. Thornby's father and step-mother arrive back in town and there’s an increase in the already peculiar happenings taking place around the Yorkshire estate. Luckily, John Blake shows up to investigate some unexplainable magical happenings. Thornby and Blake have an immediate dislike and are forced to work with each other to make sense of what is holding Lord Thornby hostage. Their dislike changes fairly quickly and a necessary companionship is formed. They have great chemistry, entertaining banter, lots of heat, and are frequent passengers on the orgasm express. Apparently danger turns them on... Salt Magic, Skin Magic is a historical paranormal romance that is very well done. I was enthralled from the beginning and didn’t want to stop until the end. Once the plot picked up, I was on edge until the end. There are many PNR/fantasy elements taking place. Some of them made sense and other elements weren’t fully explained and left me wondering if it’s slightly lacking world building is setting up another book? I’d definitely read it. I wanted to give it more stars but I needed more at the end. There’s a HFN but where do they go from here? That could be me just being picky but I didn’t feel completely settled at the end. Still, very enjoyable and definitely recommend. Copy provided for honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brian Johnson

    In addition to being a fabulous, richly- and precisely-imagined work of historical urban fantasy, Lee Welch’s magnificent Salt Magic, Skin Magic is a textured, moving, and lyricial queer romance--the kind of book you immediately want to force all your friends to read because it is just THAT GOOD. I absolutely loved it, and loved Joel Leslie’s brilliant narration too. Set on a Yorkshire estate in 1851, the novel follows the dilemma of Soren, the tormented and beautiful Lord Thornby, who is someho In addition to being a fabulous, richly- and precisely-imagined work of historical urban fantasy, Lee Welch’s magnificent Salt Magic, Skin Magic is a textured, moving, and lyricial queer romance--the kind of book you immediately want to force all your friends to read because it is just THAT GOOD. I absolutely loved it, and loved Joel Leslie’s brilliant narration too. Set on a Yorkshire estate in 1851, the novel follows the dilemma of Soren, the tormented and beautiful Lord Thornby, who is somehow magically bound to his father’s property. His father, Marquess of Dalton, has recently remarried following the death of Soren’s mother and has promised Soren that the strange binding enchantment will be lifted as soon as Soren marries. Enter: “industrial” magician and aristocrat-fetishizer John Blake, who arrives at the estate to investigate a different charge of possible enchantment. Sparks fly between the initially antagonistic men, and gradually the mystery of just what kind of magical shenanigans are causing trouble for Soren by imprisoning him on the estate’s grounds is revealed. Everything about this brilliant first novel tinkles, hums, and chimes like an exquisitely complex clockwork. John's industrial magic--magic that takes objects like salt or tables or clothes as its primary focus--is ingeniously and convincingly imagined. The brooding estate itself is evoked with the grungy vividness of a nineteenth-century landscape painting: all browns, slate greys, and dingy greens, but lit from within by a coppery glow. The characters pulse with charm, deep hurts, and sinister wit. Soren is a kind of male aristocratic damsel locked in a fairy tale tower, and John his dark rescuer--sort of. Their love story is as rewardingly complicated as their passion for each other is electric. I won’t spoil the wonderful surprises except to say that Welch is not only a gloriously lyrical writer but an ingenious plotter: everything connects in her finely wrought fictional world: the characters and events, the magical systems, and the book’s enigmatic core images of salt and skin. Tied into the book’s treatment of magic is an understated allegory about surviving a homophobic home environment: Soren’s release from his father’s power is contingent upon his renunciation of gay love in favor of a “normal” marriage. John helps him find a far more satisfying and life-sustaining alternative to such coercion. I don’t know if Welch intends to revisit and advance Soren and John’s story in future novels, or if this is intended as a stand-alone, but Welch has built not only a sumptuous and credible nineteenth-century urban fantasy setting but an iconic romantic pairing that frankly screams for further development. I, for one, would love to read their future adventures, and if Joel Leslie could be convinced to narrate them again...I would not be mad :) Highly recommended!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lotta

    Oh, this was so good. Need to think a bit before I write my review. But basically, if you like paranormal historical romance, you should read this! OK, let's give this a try. This was definitely one of my favourite reads this year, with really beautiful language. I liked the magic system (material magic vs. thermatology, and apparently based on some Elizabethan beliefs?) and would love to read more about it, perhaps in more books set in the same world? Hopefully? I also found the characters compell Oh, this was so good. Need to think a bit before I write my review. But basically, if you like paranormal historical romance, you should read this! OK, let's give this a try. This was definitely one of my favourite reads this year, with really beautiful language. I liked the magic system (material magic vs. thermatology, and apparently based on some Elizabethan beliefs?) and would love to read more about it, perhaps in more books set in the same world? Hopefully? I also found the characters compelling. Lord Thornby, trapped over a year by some unknown spell and fighting to get free, now less arrogant than he once was. John Blake, trade to the core but with magic abilities that makes him in some ways the more powerful of the two. But Blake's magic doesn't seem to work on Thornby. And the budding attraction that pulls them together, while they still both doubt the other. They are both changed by the contact, and both learn new things about themselves. I don't want to say too much, unless I spoil the secrets. There's also Lord Thornby's obsessed and horrible father, a bunch of his henchmen, the young, charming, but troubled step-mother, a hedgehog who likes walnuts and the wild Yorkshire sea. Heather also wrote a really good review. Highly recommeded to fans of KJ Charles' and Jordan L Hawk's paranormal series. For full disclosure, I got this book as an advance review copy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    fleurette

    Wow, what a great story! It is nearly as good as The Magpie Lord. To be honest this books is so much like The Magpie Lord. But at the same time it is different enough not to have a feeling that you read a re-telling. And I loved everything about this book. Just like in The Magpie Lord, we've got an aristocrat with a problem of magical nature and a lower-class magician. Thornby and John indeed remind me a lot of Crane and Stephen, however, the dynamic between them is completely different. And I li Wow, what a great story! It is nearly as good as The Magpie Lord. To be honest this books is so much like The Magpie Lord. But at the same time it is different enough not to have a feeling that you read a re-telling. And I loved everything about this book. Just like in The Magpie Lord, we've got an aristocrat with a problem of magical nature and a lower-class magician. Thornby and John indeed remind me a lot of Crane and Stephen, however, the dynamic between them is completely different. And I like it too. The whole story is set in the old mansion with some dark magic luring from the walls. And the magical-world in Salt Magic, Skin Magic is as fascinating as in The Magpie Lord. So, yeah, those books are very alike but at the same time satisfyingly dissimilar. As soon as I started this story, I just couldn’t stop reading it. The plot is pretty well-done. The only thing that is missing in my opinion is the epilogue. There are still some things I want to know about the whole situation. (view spoiler)[Like, where will Thornby and John finally live, will Lady Dalton be pregnant, will Thornby manage to save his family fortune after all? (hide spoiler)] Yeah, so many questions. I wish there is a sequel to this story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Francesca

    Well that was a joy to read. It felt gothic and claustrophobic, the characters were well fleshed out and manage a growth and redeeming arc even in the context of the mistery/magic going ons. The book was beautifully written and the story gripping. Throw in magic that does not feel like "other" to the plot and a very romantic subplot and you have one of the best romances I have read in ages. Highly recommended Well that was a joy to read. It felt gothic and claustrophobic, the characters were well fleshed out and manage a growth and redeeming arc even in the context of the mistery/magic going ons. The book was beautifully written and the story gripping. Throw in magic that does not feel like "other" to the plot and a very romantic subplot and you have one of the best romances I have read in ages. Highly recommended

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisazj1

    I loved everything about this! The world building, the storyline, the writing, the developing relationship between Soren and John, and maybe, a bit with the current Lady Dalton. I loved the way magic was written as an everyday, if not wholly accepted, part of life, and how the whole scope of that magic changed for John over the course of the story. The historical period the story was set in is one of my favorites and was well set without spending an inordinate amount of time doing so. The chemis I loved everything about this! The world building, the storyline, the writing, the developing relationship between Soren and John, and maybe, a bit with the current Lady Dalton. I loved the way magic was written as an everyday, if not wholly accepted, part of life, and how the whole scope of that magic changed for John over the course of the story. The historical period the story was set in is one of my favorites and was well set without spending an inordinate amount of time doing so. The chemistry between John and Soren was by turns, teasing, playful and absolutely smokin' and the sex was blistering hot but I also loved the tentative tenderness that each felt but was so afraid to show. And when the twist was revealed, I was both charmed *as I always am by this particular legend* and pleased by the surprise, because I did not see it coming. (view spoiler)[I was also quite pleased by the fact that Lord Dalton got his, because it would have been a complete spoiling of the story to me if he hadn't. He well deserved his punishment, though in truth it wasn't harsh enough. (hide spoiler)] Well done by this author and I'll be immediately looking to see what else Lee Welch has for me to read!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Audiobook (MAR 2019) Narrated by Joel Leslie I thought it was a glorious book when I read it last year; I placed it on my "honorable mention" list for 2018. But when an incredibly talented voice actor performs this marvelous story... it becomes sublime. The prose all the more stunning, the story line even more brilliant, deftly drawn characters explode into life, and the atmosphere becomes something in which a listener could drown. Highly recommended. More, please! Dear Author: I only have ONE, al Audiobook (MAR 2019) Narrated by Joel Leslie I thought it was a glorious book when I read it last year; I placed it on my "honorable mention" list for 2018. But when an incredibly talented voice actor performs this marvelous story... it becomes sublime. The prose all the more stunning, the story line even more brilliant, deftly drawn characters explode into life, and the atmosphere becomes something in which a listener could drown. Highly recommended. More, please! Dear Author: I only have ONE, albeit small, nitpick... fewer sex scenes, please.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Santy

    What a ride this was! I loved everything about this book and wish it was longer or at least had a proper epilogue. I never wanted it to finish. I know this isn’t much of a review but if you like magical /historical/paranormal romance or a mixture of all three genres like this was, read this. You won’t regret it. Lee Wench has found a new fan in me. 😊

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    After finishing this at the beginning of the month, I've finally got around to writing a proper review. I've discovered Lee Welch's works in the summer and I really loved her novella Mended with Gold and its short sequel, Out Loud. Her first novel, Salt Magic, Skin Magic, is at the same time very different and deeply similar to her debut works. Set in the isolated Yorkshire estate of Raskelf in 1851, the year of London's Great Exhibition, the novel focuses on two main characters: the young L After finishing this at the beginning of the month, I've finally got around to writing a proper review. I've discovered Lee Welch's works in the summer and I really loved her novella Mended with Gold and its short sequel, Out Loud. Her first novel, Salt Magic, Skin Magic, is at the same time very different and deeply similar to her debut works. Set in the isolated Yorkshire estate of Raskelf in 1851, the year of London's Great Exhibition, the novel focuses on two main characters: the young Lord Thornby - arrogant, considered by many on the verge of insanity and bound to stay within his father's manor and land by mysterious forces - and John Blake, an industrial magician of working-class origins who finds himself dragged into the strange spells at work in Raskelf where he is called in for help by the second wife of Thornby's father. Opening with an amazing and nightmarish chapter chronicling the umpteenth attempt by Lord Thornby to cross Raskelf's borders, Salt Magic, Skin Magic is a novel full of incredible events and unexpected twists and turns. While I was reading it, I really had no idea of what might happen next and each chapter presented a surprising moment, both in terms of the main story and from the point of view of the relationship developing between the two MCs. I totally loved Welch's continuous intersection between old magic - fairies, selkies, parallel dimensions inhabited by wondrous creatures - and the practicality and hands-on approach inherent in John's industrial magic. The way he "talks" and communicates with things and places, with the strange objects he carries in the multiple and hidden pockets of his coat makes him at the same time strangely uncanny and deeply embedded (for instance by means of his involvement with the construction and maintenance of London's Crystal Palace) in the innovations and rush towards the future so characteristic of Victorian England. Lord Thornby is an equally exciting creation. Apparently haughty and detached, he hides immense depths of insecurity and fear fed by his father's full-on hatred and by the terrifying sensation of living a life commanded by the whims and desires of someone else. Initially suspicious of each other, and slowly getting more open and co-dependent, Thornby and John work perfectly well as a couple of allies and lovers, despite the many differences in their background and upbringing. It is in the characters and their beautiful development and in the brilliant quality of the writing that I found connections between Salt Magic, Skin Magic and the author's previous works. The story presents the same subtlety and attention in portraying the characters' humanity and in enriching the novel with unexpected little touches of irony that make it all the more moving and exciting. This novel really deserves all the praise it's been garnering since its release and I highly recommend it!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eugenia

    Fantastic!!! Historical and fantasy hook up in England for a fantastic mystery full of magic, fae, and curses! Amazing audiobook by Joel Leslie— one of his better ones!!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)

    4.5 Stars Review: This was one of those books in which the characters/narrator were just the slightest bit absurd in a funny way, but also with pretty writing (I think, it's harder for me to notice writing in audiobooks). Anyway, that humor and writing style is one of my favorite types, so I loved this. I also loved Thornby. I felt terrible for him, trapped on this estate for a year and a half, going mad, desperately wanting to know it wasn't all in his head but also desperately wanting to leave. B 4.5 Stars Review: This was one of those books in which the characters/narrator were just the slightest bit absurd in a funny way, but also with pretty writing (I think, it's harder for me to notice writing in audiobooks). Anyway, that humor and writing style is one of my favorite types, so I loved this. I also loved Thornby. I felt terrible for him, trapped on this estate for a year and a half, going mad, desperately wanting to know it wasn't all in his head but also desperately wanting to leave. But I also just loved his absurdity, his quirks, his confidence, his cheekiness. John had a bit of absurdity too, I think it kind of came with his magic, but he was also more serious, and he was kind and self-assured and resourceful, and I liked him too. I also liked the two of them together. I felt the chemistry between them. I awwwed at their tender moments, and the sex scenes were hot. They worked together really well, those two, and it was nice seeing them trust each other and be vulnerable and find this magical relationship with each other. The actual magic was really cool too. I've never read about magic quite like John's. His magic involved the use of objects. In addition to just using things for doing magic, he could, in a way, speak to objects and listen to them. They could tell him things, show him magic they were involved in in the past, help him out. I found it interesting. He also had to make sure he dispelled enough magic before sex, or it could be a problem. And sometimes his magic reacted in strange ways with Thornby. "You realize there's an octopus under the bed?" he said, getting under the covers. John, who had been slipping an arm around him, went still for a moment. "Is there? Yes, alright. I'm not surprised." "Yours, is it?" "No." The plot revolved around the mystery of what magic was keeping Thornby trapped on the estate and how to break it so he could be free. The whole story had a bit of underlying darkness, but it was fun with some humor and some sexy times and some growing feelings between the men. Then things got real serious real fast (in a great, intense, emotional sort of way), and there was this reveal that was just this total "Everything makes so much sense now!" moment. Bonus: *SPOILER* (view spoiler)[I finally got to read about a supernatural creature I'd not read about yet (selkies), even if I didn't realize I was reading about it until the reveal. (hide spoiler)] *END SPOILER* I also enjoyed the audio narration. Joel Leslie did a great job, no complaints. This was a completely random find, I'm pretty sure I found it while browsing through Hoopla, but I thought this was a fantastic little standalone book with great characters who had great chemistry, fascinating magic, and an interesting story! Recommended For: Anyone who likes historical/paranormal m/m fantasy, a bit of absurd humor, pretty writing, likeable characters, and some scorching hot sex scenes. Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight --------------------- Initial Thoughts: This was a great audiobook! Fantastic characters, great chemistry between them, and really cool magic. Either 4 or 4.5 stars. Full review soon!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jax

    Loved this! The author managed to create the sense of genuine fondness between the MCs (in addition to physical attraction) and make it believable for feelings to develop in such a short period of time. Happy to have found a new writer to glom on to.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joyfully Jay

    A Joyfully Jay review. 4.75 stars I really love the combination of historical and paranormal, so I was definitely intrigued by this book when I read the blurb. I think there is something about the rigid rules of formal society that contrast so well with the otherworldly paranormal themes. In this case, Lee Welch has created a fabulous story that is a wonderful mix of romance, historical setting, and fascinating paranormal world building. First off, the paranormal elements Welch has built here are A Joyfully Jay review. 4.75 stars I really love the combination of historical and paranormal, so I was definitely intrigued by this book when I read the blurb. I think there is something about the rigid rules of formal society that contrast so well with the otherworldly paranormal themes. In this case, Lee Welch has created a fabulous story that is a wonderful mix of romance, historical setting, and fascinating paranormal world building. First off, the paranormal elements Welch has built here are really engaging. While it is clear not everyone is familiar with or believes in magic, at the same time, it is being used in fairly common ways. For example, John does industrial magic, helping to secure assembly lines and shore up buildings. In fact, there is a nice reference to the building of the famous Crystal Palace in London and John’s role in that process. The most common form of magic is working with demons, but in John’s case, he is a materials magician, working with things like salt, sand, and iron. Welch does such an amazing job with these scenes as we see John use his magic and I loved the detail into the way he builds spells and charms. There is also a really interesting dynamic that develops as John grows as a magician, connecting to his materials and having them almost speak to him. Read Jay’s review in its entirety here.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    2.5 stars This book turned out very different than what I expected when I started this. And that wasn’t a good thing. I love reading about magic and mysterious events, so I thought for sure this book would be a winner. But I had no idea this would be a book about (view spoiler)[ fairies, selkies and other creatures (hide spoiler)] . For some reason I can get on board with magic, ghosts, a magical world, or a fantasy setting, but (view spoiler)[ a hidden realm with all kinds of creatures, and selki 2.5 stars This book turned out very different than what I expected when I started this. And that wasn’t a good thing. I love reading about magic and mysterious events, so I thought for sure this book would be a winner. But I had no idea this would be a book about (view spoiler)[ fairies, selkies and other creatures (hide spoiler)] . For some reason I can get on board with magic, ghosts, a magical world, or a fantasy setting, but (view spoiler)[ a hidden realm with all kinds of creatures, and selkies with skins you can trap them with (hide spoiler)] is just a bit too ‘unrealistic’ for me. And that’s why I really liked this at first but then it slowly started to fall apart for me as the story got more and more crazy. And what the heck was with that ending (romance wise)? (view spoiler)[Soren asks John to keep seeing each other in London, but John acts lukewarm and Soren is somewhat disappointed about that. And then it ends. (hide spoiler)] Talk about unromantic…

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