The Magic Knot by Helen Scott Taylor
Taylor was the most recent winner of the American Title contest (IV), and if this book is any indication, she's picked the right career. The Magic Knot is truly a work of art. Although I have read other "fairy" books, this is the first one that didn't become overly explicit, overly dark, or so sunk in the creation of the world that the characters become lost.
As with most of my favorite romances, the characters are front and center of this story. Taylor squeezes a lot of information into her narrative, but never once did I feel that the background was more important than the story or the characters. And while I did like the two main characters, it was the supporting cast that caught my attention. I find myself hoping against hope that their stories are coming next.
I do have to agree with Nicole, from the RT blog, that the cover of this book does not come close to doing it justice. It looks like a standard Regency, when it is in reality one of the most compelling contemporary fantasy romances I've read in years. You can read her mini-rant about bad covers here.
For those looking for a fresh take on English/Irish lore, you should try the Magic Knot.