A contemporary fantasy romance, Constance Phillips’ Fairyproof (Crescent Moon Press) centers on Monique, a fairy princess who has fled her world to escape a forced marriage to a slimy piece of work named Eero. Pursued by her Protector brother Keiran, who is beholden to the duplicitous Eero, she winds up in Elgin, Illinois, where she meets handsome, if somewhat OCD-hampered, financial planner Daniel Elliot. Expecting to be able to use her fairy charm to immediately win him over, our heroine is startled to discover that Daniel appears to be resistant to her magic. Accustomed to surviving on the human plane by using her magic to control humans (“especially the men”), she finds Daniel’s unknowing immunity both challenging and frightening.
Though impervious to her paranormal magnetism, the recently jilted Daniel is of course intrigued by our girl’s seemingly human attributes. Though he presents as a button-down type, we quickly realize (thanks to his taste in jazz) that he’s more than an emotional match for our heroine. As their romance blossoms, Keiran and his Protector partner Veronica get closer to uncovering Monique’s whereabouts. Behind all this, the villainous Eero is engineering a coup against the fairies’ governing council, as an increasing number of fairies visiting the human realm appear to be disappearing.
Though her initial start-up reads like something you might find in a romantic comic fantasy (something that Thorne Smith might have concocted in his heyday), former Blogcritic Phillips takes her story seriously. If we don’t see as much of the fairy realm as we might like, Fairyproof depicts a believable modern fantasy world with sufficiently recognizable subtext to ground her story. The fairies inhabiting our realm, we learn, have differing degrees of attachment to the humans they live alongside: Keiran, we quickly see, is scornful toward humans, while other fairies have managed to successfully intermingle with them. One of these, a hipster-esque club owner named Billy, proves a dubious ally for Monique. Apart from the Machiavellian plotting in the realm, the world of fairies is facing a larger crisis as the number of its folk has been dwindling. The attempts of one of its council members, Leal, to increase contact between the fairy and human worlds have seemingly resulted in the deaths of Monique and Keiran’s parents, which has added to the Protector’s bigoted perspective.
Also figuring into the plot is a mysterious piece of jewelry once owned by our hero Daniel, but apparently taken by his ex-fiancé. Not everybody is who they first appear to be in the story: more than one character from the realm has a prior connection to the “fairyproof” Daniel, and at least one who you expect to betray our heroine doesn’t. While Phillips isn’t as explicit with the anti-fairy crime subplot than this urban fantasy reader would like, she is deft in laying out the political machinations that fuel it all. And for those readers coming to this book primarily for its romantic elements, be assured that author Phillips lets it build with plenty of believable and evocative detail. If heroine Monique shows perhaps one too many flashes of jealousy in regards to the clearly loyal Daniel, let’s just chalk it up to time spent in the Chicago ‘burbs. I’ve lived there; it could throw anyone off their stride.
Phillips leaves room in her book for a sequel: good news for readers wanting to see the unresolved fairy population crisis get addressed – preferably with one or two hot sequences.