I found this little gem over at Michelle Moran's http://historicalfictionauthorinterviews.blogspot.com/ so I knew it couldn't be a Standard Issue Romance Novel. Michelle's the author of NEFERTITI, after all, Enduring Romance's Book of the Year for 2007.
If you liked KINGDOM OF HEAVEN with Orlando Bloom and Liam Neesun, but wished the heroine got to have more adventures and romance this is the book for you. As a sidenote, I think they killed off Liam's character too soon, but you know me. Sigh.
Anyway, back to CRUSADER'S LADY. Marc is a knight sick of war in the middle of the Crusades. He's an honorable knight though and is sickened when he accidentally kills an unarmed Arab near his camp one knight. Then, King Richard wants his protection on his trip back to jerk Prince John out of his throne in England. Well, at least, he'll get to go home, which is actually Scotland. (They're men, they're men in kilts, KILTS! KILTS!) (sorry)
What Marc doesn't realize is the slain unarmed Arab was Soraya's honorary uncle and they were on a mission to deliver a message from the great leader Saladin to the king of the English. More than that, when Soraya witnesses Marc killing her uncle Khalil, she swears revenge. Dressed as a servent boy, she latches onto Marc, pretending to become his servent, all the while planning to kill him at the first opportunity. And so now she's on her way to England too. Her plans get derailed as she realizes Marc's an honorable man. She gets seasick too, which makes it rather difficult to plunge a dagger into Marc's gut. Oh, and she sees him butt-naked as well. It's nearly half-way through the novel before Marc finally learns that Soraya is a woman. Though shocked, it does explain some things for him.
CRUSADER'S LADY is a delightful trip away from the usual medieval romances set in England or France. It takes place in the dirt between the Holy Land and those destinations. The Heroine is also not your typical damsel-in-distress. I rate the Heat Level at Sensual. I think the sign of a good Historical is when the author doesn't resort to contemporary-feeling attitudes and love scenes to win the reader over. A good Historical author stays true and transcends the ages. Ms. Banning does all that.