Set in Medieval Scotland,a tall,grey,granite pillar lies at the heart of this novel along with the backdrop of a feud between two clans that has spanned centuries.The ancient attack of the woman of one clan by the man of the other,is where the feud and the statue originate.The woman,the heroine's ancestor,cannot be saved and so faeries preserve her soul by transforming her into The Stone Maiden.That same enchantment prevented a man of the murderer's clan,the MacNephtans,from harming a woman from Clan MacLaren again.Alainna is head of this clan,which now,after years of fighting their enemies,consist mainly of elderly men and women.For a little while,she is protected,but the seven hundred year old enchantment upon the Stone Maiden is about to run out and therefore,Alainna petitions the King for help . What she wants is a Celtic Champion to protect her people and ensure their bloodline is not lost by giving up his own name and also allowing their subsequent children to take her name, not his.What she gets is the stable military might of a Norman Knight who speaks Gaelic -Sebastien le Bret, a man of dubious background.He was a foundling,raised in a monastery who has won his position in Court by sheer grit and determination.Within the character of Sebastien,one of the themes of the book comes into play ; he wants to belong . He knows little of his parentage and because of this was never accepted by the parents of his late,first wife with whom he has a son.He envies Alainna,who is a stone carver and is able to preserve centuries of her clan's rich heritage into stone tablets to endure forever.Alainna quotes an incantation which haunts him for the rest of the novel :"I am weary and I am a stranger.......Be my wings til I find my home".I believe another theme is entrapment.At the start ,the Clan MacLaren feels entrapped by their weakness against their enemy clan.Sebastien is entrapped by his duty to obey his King and go to Alainna's aid when his intention was to travel to Brittany where his infant son is reported missing .And Alainna is entrapped by her responsibility to her people ; as a clan leader she resists the man she believes cannot do her people any good,when as a woman she is intensely drawn to him . I love the way,Susan King gives her heroines brains as well as brawn, and a worthwhile occupation , as opposed to merely waiting for the hero to rescue her out of countless situations .Alainna is gutsy,intelligent and brave and Sebastien is strong yet vulnerable,courageous yet tender and they are thrown together to find a common thread that eventually binds them together.There is such a wealth of celtic history and tradition weaved into the characters and their lives that it'll transport you there.Time travel courtesy of Susan King ! I found myself reading the words in my head with a broad Scottish accent! At the beginning of the book,Alainna dreams of Sebastien being sent to Scotland to her aid, accurate in description even down to the charge on his shield , despite the fact that she had not yet met him .The book ends as it begins with another dream of the Stone Maiden returning to human form . She tells Alainna that she is not lost to her but that she will enter her life in a different way - I won't tell you how , but its a lovely way to leave the reader,looking into the hero and heroine's future with them. The Stone Maiden is a gentle love story with a spoonful of wit,a sprinkling of warmth and a whole stirring of Celtic fables,traditions and incantations - DELICIOUS ! If , like me, you have read and loved Susan King's books before, then you will devour this one too , I promise. Read and enjoy, and I defy you not to fall in love with Sebastien le Bret and Scotland alike .