Homeless and jobless, Fenn Todd has nearly run out of hope. All he has left is his longing for horses and the strength of his own two hands. But when he’s cheated into accepting a very ugly sackcloth horse, he’s catapulted into a world of magic, politics and desire.
Fenn’s invited to stay at the black tower, home of the most terrifying man in the realm: Morgrim, the court sorcerer. Morgrim has a reputation as a scheming villain, but he seems surprisingly charming—and sexy—and Fenn falls hard for him.
However, nothing is as it seems and everyone at the tower is lying about something. Beset by evil hexes, violent political intrigue and a horse that eats eiderdowns, Fenn must make the hardest choices of his life.
Can a plain man like Fenn ever find true love with a scheming sorcerer?
Release date: 23 September 2021
Length: 100,000 words
Genre: fantasy m/m romance
Two Chicks Obsessed: At the end of Seducing the Sorcerer, I felt everything was primed for a book 2. When’s it going to happen?
Lee Welch: Never say never, but I wrote Seducing the Sorcerer as a standalone, so there’s nothing planned. But I love that you feel there could be a second book because I hope that means the characters are living on in your imagination, having more adventures and a future together. So, it makes me very happy you would ask that question!
TCO: Are there plans to expand the world or write another book in that world but with different main characters?
LW: I’m not sure, because I created the world specifically for the story I wanted to tell about Fenn and Morgrim. Everything about the world—from the history to the geography to the politics—serves the themes of their story.
For example, one of the themes of the book is hope: hope lost and found, false hopes and real ones. Therefore, at the beginning of the book, Fenn is weary, middle-aged and nearly out of hope. He’s homeless and jobless and in many ways he’s been done out of these things by magic, because that’s the recent history in this particular world. That bit of history heightens Fenn’s particular situation. And it means he has a jaded view of magicians, so when he stumbles across some magic himself and is catapulted into Morgrim the court sorcerer’s world of magic and power—that means the situation is particularly interesting for Fenn. Because of the history.
And Fenn’s particular history makes things tense for Morgrim too, because Fenn’s from a place Morgrim failed to defend years ago. So, there’s already tension between them.
I feel other stories and other characters might need different worlds?
Mind you, I have wondered about the magician who developed crystal magic. Because while that whole discipline is almost a side detail in Seducing the Sorcerer, there’s a strong hint that it’s not as safe and convenient as everyone thinks. And if there are side-effects, I suspect the magician who developed it might one day feel he has to redeem himself. And since I’m a romance author, I’d need to discover who could fall for a man who’s regretting his whole life’s work…so now you’ve got me thinking!
TCO: I’d love to know the story behind the worple horse. Was it a complete figment of your imagination, or something else? I ask because Worple was the name of an Australian thoroughbred racehorse so I’d be fascinated to know.
LW: OMG was there really a racehorse named Worple?! *laughs*
But no, there’s no connection. The worple horse in my book was a figment of my imagination, inspired by a very bad sketch of a horse as drawn by my daughter.
The name was inspired by our cat, whose name is Turple (itself a corruption of Turtle) and who is also sometimes called ‘Wurple’. He’s a very worple-ish kind of cat; always following you about, getting in your way, staring at you in the bath, having inconvenient ideas about things. He’s a bit of a derp, but we love him and he makes us laugh. So, when I was looking for a name for a ridiculous kind of horse, ‘worple’ sprang to mind. It feels right to me.
TCO: What dialect was Fenn’s accent based on? Because you’re a New Zealander, but I looked it up and I’d swear it was Northern Brit.
LW: Yes, I’m a New Zealander, but my mother and grandmother were from County Durham in the north of England, and my husband and his family are from North Yorkshire. I know people who talk a tiny bit like Fenn—saying ‘give over’ instead of ‘stop that’ for example, ‘grand’ to mean ‘good’, and ‘right’ as an intensifier (as in ‘it’s right cold today’). But don’t go to the north of England and expect to hear people talking like Fenn! Because I played around and mixed it up and added some Victorian era slang to his vocabulary because I love old-fashioned slang.
But that’s one of the joys of fantasy worlds for an author like me. I can play with language and nobody can tell me I’m wrong, because I can assure you that all working-class people from the Essurean Isle of Mandillo speak like Fenn. Although he’s got a particular gift for metaphor, I think.
Seducing the Sorcerer is out on 23 September.
The sorcerer gave his staff a vicious twirl and pointed it at Fenn’s chest, clearly ready to destroy an army. Fenn gritted his teeth against whatever hideous hex was about to kill him. How much would it hurt? How unnatural would it be? He ought to run, but he could barely move. He hunched, eyes closing of their own accord, and clutched the horse’s sacking mane as if the coarse twine could help him keep a grip on life.
At least he’d die astride a horse.
But nothing happened. The rain pattered cool on his head and hands. He opened one eye, then the other, and risked a glance at Morgrim. A shadow of doubt passed over the sorcerer’s narrow face. It was almost confusion, if a hunting hawk can ever be said to look confused.
“Well?” Morgrim said.
His tone said “and how dare you keep me waiting”. It was clear Fenn was expected to make the next move.
“Er, evening, sir. My lord.” Fenn ducked his head. “I’m right sorry for the intrusion.”
There was such vicious scorn in the sorcerer’s voice that Fenn flinched. Morgrim cocked his head to one side, raptorlike. He hadn’t lowered his staff. “Who are you?”
“Fenn Todd. Er…your grace. Sir.” Gods, what were you supposed to call a court sorcerer? “Um…your honour.”
“Fenn Todd.” Morgrim sounded as if he were sizing it up to put in a spell.
Fenn shivered. Should have given a false name. Why hadn’t he thought to give a false one? Now Morgrim would be able to find out that Fenn had a criminal record and all. Oh Gods, this was going to be bad.
“And what is your purpose here?” Morgrim snapped.
“There ain’t one, your worship. It was a mistake. The horse brought me. I didn’t mean to trespass. I’ll go, eh? Quick as you like.”
Morgrim frowned as if Fenn’s answer hadn’t made sense.
“Who sent you?”
“No one. Honest. I came by the horse sort of…accidental. Tried riding it, only it took off in the air and…well, then it came down here.” Fenn had never felt more stupid or incompetent in his life. The whole thing was a ludicrous humiliating nightmare. “But I don’t want no trouble. I’ll be off, eh? Sorry to disturb you…er…sir.”
“You came to the Unket Tower by accident? You expect me to believe that?”
The name made Fenn shiver. He’d heard of it, of course, because court sorcerers had lived here for over a thousand years. The name was synonymous with magic. The place was reputed to be haunted. It was a giant trap.
He glanced about the courtyard again. There were several doors but they were all closed fast. The stone walls were five yards high and slimy with wet that flickered red in the torchlight. And there was that young bloke with the sword to think of, let alone the angry sorcerer. If the horse wouldn’t fly there’d be no escape. Why in blazes had the creature brought him here?
“Aye, by accident. Gods’ truth,” Fenn said grimly.
“And what magic did you use?” Morgrim still hadn’t moved from the top step. The tower door stood open to the dark behind him.
“Magic?” Fenn shook his head. “No. No, no. I know what it looks like, but I ain’t a magician.”
“You’re lying. Worple horses can’t fly. Don’t antagonise me, Mr. Todd. You’ll regret it.” Morgrim’s glare intensified. “I repeat: What magic did you use?”
“A worple horse?” It was Fenn’s turn to frown. “Wait. Is that a thing? What is that?”
“I’m asking the questions.”
There was an edge to the sorcerer’s tone, like anger and yet not quite. Fenn found he’d raised his hand in a reassuring gesture.
“All right, sir. I meant no disrespect.”
“What. Magic. Did. You. Use?” Morgrim demanded.
“None. Honest. I know the horse has a rune on its chest but that weren’t me. That just appeared. I can’t do magic.”
“You think I’d come here if I could?”
“You are trespassing in my courtyard in the middle of the night. Are you now also being insolent?” Morgrim sounded as if he couldn’t believe his ears, but he lowered his staff.
Some of the tension went out of Fenn. It seemed Morgrim wasn’t going to do anything unnatural to him just yet.
“No, sir. It was an honest question. If I could do magic, why would I come here? Wouldn’t I be lying on silk sheets somewhere with a glass of wine and a valet peeling me a grape?”
Morgrim gave him one of those quelling looks that folks who liked to be in charge often gave. Fenn had weathered plenty in his time, though never one from the most powerful sorcerer in living memory. It made his blood run cold, but he kept his face plain. It didn’t do to be too easily cowed. It could make these domineering types worse. No, Fenn must strike the right balance between deference and dignity, and never mind that he felt too rattled to be up to the task.
It wasn’t helping that it was still raining. Even though the moon was right there, clearly visible over the yard wall to the east. It was raining only on the tower. Fenn shivered.
That was right uncanny. It certainly looked as though Morgrim had stolen all the rain clouds like people said.
This whole situation was unimaginable. Perhaps Fenn was dead after all.
There was a change in the solid body of the horse beneath him. It was sinking, deflating like a pricked balloon. Its legs bowed and then slid outwards. Its body grew thin and its head nodded towards the ground. Fenn jumped off with a muttered curse and it sank into a sad pool of sacking on the wet cobbles at his feet.
Fenn scratched his beard. “Blame thing.”
There’d be no flying out of here on it now. Not that it had seemed inclined previously, but now he was definitely stuck. Perhaps that quelling look of Morgrim’s had been more than just a look. Perhaps it had been some sort of evil eye.
Fenn glanced up. “You do that? Sir.”
Morgrim made a scoffing noise that said, “of course I did, but your question is beneath me”. He was glaring at the horse with a sort of outraged curiosity. He looked like a bloke who did a lot of glaring. His eyebrows were two perfect curves, positively made for the job.
Fenn nudged the horse with the toe of his boot and it gave a plaintive whinny. So, it hadn’t gone lifeless. It just wasn’t standing up any more.
In a way, Fenn sympathised. His knees felt right shaky. But Morgrim didn’t seem about to strike him down with a bolt of lightning just yet. And if Fenn was flung in a dungeon for a few nights, well, it wouldn’t be pleasant, but it wouldn’t be the first time. Who knew what would happen to the horse, but he himself would at least be fed and watered. Probably. Regular prisons had to feed you these days, though it was quite possible that Morgrim was a law unto himself.
“Well. I know it’s an ugly great thing to have littering up your courtyard,” Fenn said, wiping a raindrop off the end of his nose. “And I’m right sorry to have bothered you, and I hope you’ll be a gentleman and forgive the nuisance. I’ll be off now, eh? I won’t trouble you again. I promise.”
“All in good time.”
Morgrim came down the stairs in a ripple of black silk. He moved like a snake and in spite of himself Fenn was impressed. The man’s grace was mesmerising. It was hard to look away. And not just because Morgrim was so bloody terrifying.
“I have questions for you, Fenn Todd.”
Fenn was hardly in a position to refuse. “Aye, sir. Ask away.”
Lee Welch lives in a house on a hill in the windiest city in the world, Wellington, New Zealand. She shares the house with her partner, two kids, two cats, a dog and quite a lot of spiders. Lee studied ancient history at Auckland University and creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London. By day, she works as an editor and business communications adviser for a large government department. By night, she writes escapist romances, usually with magic in them.
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