A Firm Hand
The Elishae Barony was the final outpost of the kingdom. North of the farmlands, to the mountains that lay beyond, savage tribes of goblins, orcs, and other monsters roamed freely, and the wilderness proved a refuge for outlaws and thieves, providing they were resourceful enough and strong to carve out their territory and defend it. The King would likely have let this northernmost outpost of civilization revert back to the wilds, except that he felt it hurt his pride to relinquish any territory, so instead he granted land title to the most stubborn and resourceful of his knights, and wed him to the most stubborn and willful of his daughters, and sent them to take charge of the keep and keep the King's Road open through the mountain pass into the neighboring kingdom beyond the wilderness.
Now, ten years later, the Baron is dead, and Kayelle, the Baroness, is without heir. Kayella must take another husband, and the King has commanded her to choose from the available men ... or he will choose for her as he once did. The man who will become the next baron must be strong enough, ruthless enough, or clever enough to hold the kingdom's land against all threats - including those from within, and pledge his loyalty to the King.
The candidate for the next Baron could be a noble, a soldier, perhaps a clan leader from one of the primitive but strong nomadic peoples to the north, or even one of the brigand leaders who decides that possession is 9/10ths of the law.
Kayelle is 26 years old, and her marriage to the first Baron was decidedly unsatisfactory. Her first husband's taste did not run to women, and they kept this secret through ten uneasy years of blackmail and manipulation, and it is (very quietly) rumored that her husband's death might not have been accidental. The people of the barony, however, seem to be sympathetic to her more than resentful, and their only concern over the baron's death is that it leaves them vulnerable.
Kayelle intends to make certain that her new husband, and her people's new leader, has both the ability to rule and appetites as strong as her own -- and what the king doesn't know (until it's too late) about how she makes her choice won't hurt him.
I'm also open to variations on the theme, and any other concepts for strong female characters.