THE VALCOURT HEIRESS, by Catherine Coulter

Don't you just love a romance story that isn't full of dithering maidens with heaving bosoms pursued by snorting, ground-pawing males? You'll love this one, too. Coulter is a highly accomplished author both in the historical romance genre and in the modern FBI suspense genre. Her characters are always nicely drawn; Merry, the mysterious but lovely (of course) heroine, handsome (of course) Garron of Keswick, the new Baron Wareham of forbidding Wareham Castle.
There's the witch Abbess Helen and her creepy powers, even England's King Edward and his wife, the very fertile Queen Eleanor. One of the high points in the book is the seduction scene which you have to read if you want a lot of good laughs. Coulter's sense of humor is spot-on, and a refreshing change from some of the saccharine scenes I've read lately. Her drawing of the weak and morally-bankrupt villain and his henchmen is spot-on as well. The ending is a great surprise and will keep you up far past bedtime. (If only the heiress didn't have a great mane of flaming red hair...why not straight, thin, mousy blonde like most of us???) But, despite the physical perfections, I give this a 4.5; it's right up my alley.