THE BORDER HOSTAGE, by Virginia Henley

The prolific author of steamy Scottish historical romances brings us another sparks-fly pairing: the impetuous (not to say at times foolhardy) Raven Carleton, whose love of all things not feminine is the despair of her mother. Out for a morning gallop on her favorite horse, she comes upon a handsome stranger (who has just, by the way, spent the night in a river after being nearly drowned by enemies) and orders him off the property. Landless, penniless Heath Kennedy, tainted by bastardy and gypsy blood, is at once captured by Raven's beauty and fire. When he discovers she may be destined to wed his most vicious enemy, Heath decides to make her his. Nothing along the volatile English/Scottish border is simple, nor is this plot, with feuding clans and families, kings to be kidnapped, scores to be paid and paid again, wrongs to be righted, and women to be wooed whether they like it or not. Henley has got the story nailed, right down to the many and varied erotically-charges scenes you'd expect. It's a 5. Put on your asbestos gloves, because the sex is pretty explicit: a 4.