The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce
Series: The Song of the Lioness #3
Each of the books can stand alone fairly well, but I think this one does most of all if you’re not really into reading entire series. Wherever she goes Alanna stirs up trouble and the desert is no exception. She not only has to deal with the perceptions of different people, but also what happens when men and princes fall for a woman. Alanna even takes on a maternal side with the children of the tribe. The big bad guy is less obvious in this book, but you are still driven towards the end.