THE BORDER HOSTAGE
The territory fought over for centuries by English nobles and Scottish clansmen provides the setting for New York Times bestselling author Henley's 17th historical romance (after The Marriage Prize, etc.). She establishes the tone right away with a graphic and portentous mating scene between a mare and a stallion. Rugged, handsome Heath Kennedy, bastard son of the wealthy Lord of Galloway, is abducted by a renegade band of border prowlers who mistake him for his brother-in-law, Lord Ram Douglas. Though they try to drown him, he survives and encounters beauteous free spirit Raven Carleton downstream on her father's estate; despite her upbringing as a proper English lady, she's riding her horse bareback, alone, at dawn. Heath must find Ram and warn him of danger, so he "borrows" Raven's shirt and mount—she's mortified, he's smitten. Thus starts a multifaceted plot involving Raven's betrothal to the shady Christopher Dacre, an English aristocrat favored by her parents, and her troublesome attraction to the intrepid Scottish thief who has an affinity for horses that matches her own gift for falconry. It turns out Dacre was behind Heath's kidnapping, and Heath soon returns the favor by abducting him—and Raven, too. Raids, arson and a scheme to kidnap Scotland's infant monarch provide action and intrigue as Heath and Raven, who are of course destined for each other, fall into a love/hate relationship that includes perilous escapes and lubricious love scenes. Heath's reliance on the earth to renew strength as well as the supernatural gift of "the sight" Raven has inherited from her grandmother are only a few of many unusual details that enhance this 16th-century saga of political intrigue and tempestuous romance. (July)
Forecast:This is more of the satisfying same for Henley's fans, as they will gather from a preview in the paperback edition of The Marriage Prize and from the redictable cover art, featuring a gloomy castle at dusk.