Message From The Author
A tidbit of historical fact inspired my latest novel, THE STONE MAIDEN, set
in twelfth-century Scotland.
This is the first novel in my Maiden trilogyeach story is inspired by legends of ancient maidens. In the first story, a Highland girl is forced to wed a Norman knight by order
of the kingyet these two willful people refuse to accept the kings decree easily.
Researching early Scottish history and the Celtic culture for this book has been fascinating. King William of Scotland offered land to Norman knights to attract their military strength to Scotland, so that foreign knights took Celtic brides, founding new clans with Norman names.
Yet documents reveal that some Norman knights adopted the names of their Scottish brides. This intrigued me. What would happen, I wondered, if Norman honor met its powerful equal in Highland stubbornness?
Alainna MacLaren of Kinlochan is the last hope of her diminished Highland clan. According to the legend of THE STONE MAIDEN, an ancient stone pillar on her property, the old enchantment that protects her people will fadeunless Alainna weds a man who adopts her clans name.
Sebastien le Bret is a hardened knight with noble aspirations. Sent by the Scottish king to help the failing clan, he agrees to protect Alainnas people in exchange for her land.
He does not plan to stay in the remote, barbaric Highlandsand he has no intention of forsaking his hard-won name to marry a Scottish girl.
Alainna is fiercely dedicated to her people. A trained stonecarver, she is determined to resist the arrogant Norman knight whose presence threatens her clan. Yet there is far more to Sebastien le Bret than she at first imagines.
With secrets to protect and ambitions to pursue, Sebastien intends to leave Scotland quickly. But when he and Alainna begin to realize that true love is the finest legacy of all,
they face some devastating choices.
In the fall of 2000, look for THE SWAN MAIDEN. Write to me at P.O. Box 356, Damascus, MD 20872, or visit my website at www.susanking.net.
Excerpt from THE STONE MAIDEN
The king has not yet offered me your land, Sebastien said. You fret over naught.
I do not fret, Alainna snapped defensively. But I will fret if the king sends Normans to Kinlochan!
You are wondrous full of argument, he commented. And you seem to think little of Normans.
She blushed and looked away. Normans have helped Scotland in the past, but they bring change to Scotland.
And you do not want to wed with one.
I do not, she agreed.
Your clan would benefit from such a union.
You are a stubborn girl, I think, he mused.
I have to be so, for the sake of my clan. Normans would destroy our legacy, our very name. Tell the king that the lady is unwilling when he offers you my land.
A wry smile played at his mouth. I am not a Scottish subject. I am not obligated to accept King Williams grant.
She blinked. You would refuse?
I have other plans, he said quietly.
She felt relief, and a surprising swirl of disappointment. Suddenly she was curious about him, drawn by his strength and calm, by his keen gaze. No Norman would refuse such a gift. You are an ambitious sort.
He leaned toward her. My ambitions, he said sharply, do not include marrying a hot-tempered Highland girl and settling on some remote mountain to fight her war. I leave that to the Celtic paragon you wish to marry, wherever he may be.
He stared down at her, but she would not tilt back, refusing to yield. His eyes sparked with anger, but she knew her own matched his for flash and fire. She scowled to make certain of it. You must not accept the grant if tis offered you.
Is that a warning, lady? he asked softly.
It is. Her heart thudded. She could not take her gaze from his. She sensed his powerful will, even stronger than her own. The feeling was odd and exciting.
I do not do well with warnings, he said in a low voice. I have a habit of going against them.
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