It’s a historical I read back in jr. high/high school that I’m guessing was written in the late 80’s/early-mid-90’s.
I don’t remember any character names or the title, but the basic plot (as I remember it) is the heroine is the last of a line of Scottish smugglers working to circumnavigate that pesky oppressive British government. The hero is an English customs officer set to figure out who this obnoxiously successful smuggler is, bring him (because who would suspect a woman) to justice and shut down the operation. All sorts of fun ensues, including a hefty chunk of the book taking place on her ship, where he is trying to prove she’s the smuggler while she tries to complete a smuggling run right underneath his nose.
Naturally they fall in lust/love and the compromise becomes she agrees to retire when they get home and they hatch out a plot that will enable the hero to prove to his superior that he has been successful in his mission while keeping the notorious smuggler’s true identity a secret. Classic big misunderstanding ensues when the heroine independently decides the best way for this to happen would be for her smuggling persona to “die” by going over a cliff as the hero and his backup troops come to make the arrest. He thinks he’s killed her and is furious when he arrives at her home later to find her very alive and very pleased with herself, vowing he wants nothing further to do with her.
Later that night the heroine is chased down by the hero’s superior, who has been trying to convince her to marry him? (I think – I don’t really remember what prompts the murderous chase, just that it happened). He hunts her through the cliffs and caves, eventually ending up strangling her at the edge of one of the cliffs … where naturally the hero comes at the last minute and saves her.
The villain ends up getting sent off to be an indentured servant in either the US or Australia I believe. There’s a side story involving the heroine’s mother and the hero’s father, who have a romantic history — they met and fell in love while he was darting about Scotland with Prince Charlie, and I seem to recall her hiding him from pursuing redcoats by shoving him under her skirts.
Why aren’t there more romances titled, “Under Her Skirts?”