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?
Comment: I liked another book written by this author and upon seeing positive reviews about this one, although I wasn't even aware of it until then, I decided to get it and try it too, hoping it would be a story mixing romance and fantasy, like the first one did.
In fact, in this book we meet Fenn Todd, a forty something man who is down on his luck, and in an attempt to get some money, he recklessly accepts the offer for a job and is even more surprised when the employer says he will give him a horse instead. Having been a groom in his youth and loving horses, the offer does seem too good to be true, but Fenn goes along with it. Of course, the offer was just to humiliate him, for the horse is only a doll with the shape of a horse. Fenn is practically forced to leave with it and eventually stops and hides with it, resting for the night. In his sleep he dreams of horses and the good memories from his past, and in the morning no one is more surprised when the "horse" comes to life in his animated shape and starts following him around. Somehow, he finds himself riding the horse, and it takes flight, taking him to the tower where resides the greatest magician of the realm. Fenn is scared but he thinks if there's a person who can help is Morgrim, the sorcerer... but as Fenn spends more time at the tower, the more at home he feels too...
I don't think it's necessary to keep summarizing the plot because any romance reader sees where this is going, isn't it? Fenn and Morgrim start quite cautions towards one another but as time goes by and the more they interact, the more they realize there's something between them. The romance isn't insta-love in the sense they jump each other right away, the author has allowed some tension to build and an emotional bond to be established before they do get intimate.
I should say this was my favorite part of the novel, how sweet the romance is and how romantically it develops because both protagonists are wary, uncertain of their own worth at times and of course I felt I had to root for them. The romance part was pretty much perfect until a certain point, as a matter of fact, at least when it came to how their personalities were presented, how they did small things for one another without expectations and there were many scenes where we could see they would be a good couple when they admitted their feelings.
Sadly for me, the last section of the story, romance-wise, was a let down. I suppose I can see why the dynamics changed, to suit what was going on with the story (as a sort of counter balance perhaps), but personally I don't enjoy stories with the new dynamic the author added to their relationship and although recognizing it can be a matter of writing, this wasn't a case where I felt my impression was changed for the better.
The world building is also well done, this is a fantasy world where magic exists and Fenn sees himself in the middle of that and also of some politics, a minor part of the story which, in my opinion, was also dealt swiftly at the end, which means the big focus is character driven. Still, as the story develops, we are told many things about the world, about the way things work and the author's imagination is clear and vibrant, I kept expecting something new to happen or to be shared by the characters.
The plot offers some surprises close to the end and one of them was a good one, which i didn't see coming. I kind of wish, though, that more of this would have had a better progress instead of the focus on the silliness of the main characters new dynamics, for it felt the end was somewhat rushed, in comparison with the amount of attention given to it throughout the novel. I feel conflicted for I feel some elements were enough to give us an idea, whereas others weren't expanded as well as they could have.
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