England, the 11th century. Lady Leonie has a secret that’s she’s hidden her whole life. She’s half fae, the daughter of a faerie and a human. Growing up in her uncle’s household she’s had to hide her talents, for fear of persecution of witchcraft.

Phillipe le Peregrine is a landless knight sworn never to marry again after the sorcerer Clodamir cursed him and killed his wife. Any woman he loves is sure to die by his hand.

When King Rufus is told by the hag that advised his father that the Peregrine must go to Castle Bosewood, where Leonie resides, the pair comes face-to-face once more: as a teenager, Phillipe humiliated her when he spurned her request for a kiss after she beat him in an archery tournament. But her embarrassment is nothing to the danger she faces from the thing buried in the forest.

Faerie is an unusual historical romance, supernatural and fantasy mash-up. For the first half of the book the story has a strong romantic focus. Leonie and Phillipe have superb tension, each keeping secrets from the other, wary, and yet thrown together due to circumstances. I’m a big fan of fantasy and historical story lines as well as romance, and I adored the way the story developed over the first half. Man candy note: Philippe is hot. He’s also smart and sensitive, and stubborn, but Leonie is more than a match for him. The dream sequences: super hot. I’m not a fan of dream sequences normally, but these were delicious.

Faerie develops in ambitious directions, from a seemingly simple court-based romance story line, to a fantasy with far-reaching consequences for the characters, and indeed all of England. I was surprised by the direction that Jacobs took the novel in the latter parts. For most of the novel, she took pains with her scenes and characters. The climax, while interesting, was a little unwieldy and rushed. Still, her creativity can’t be faulted, and all the lose ends are tied up neatly and properly.

Faerie is an excellent romance with strong characters. It doesn’t quite succeed in its fantasy aspects, but is an entertaining read just the same, and I recommend it to anyone who likes their romance in a historical setting.

Side note: I’d love to read the story of Sigur, the young boy who is Leonie’s favourite who desperately wants to be a knight despite his grandfather’s treachery and downfall. I think his story would be fraught and complex, and highly entertaining.

A word on the format: I listened to this as an audiobook and cannot fault Simon Vance’s reading. He has excellent technique and does the voices seamlessly. I’m a big fan of his audiobooks. Bought on iTunes for AU$17.99. (This also explains why some of my spelling above might not be accurate. My apologies.)