Tuesday 24 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: Heart of Stone - John Jackson

I had the pleasure of meeting John Jackson recently and, as a fan of histfic, my ears pricked up when he told me he had written an historical novel.  As I was remaining in Newcastle from afternoon to evening, I had a self-imposed book buying ban but luckily there was an upcoming blog tour that I could join, so I am thrilled to release my review for the tour.

Genre: Historic Fiction
Release Date: 24th October 2017
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books

Dublin, 1730

When young and beautiful Mary Molesworth is forced to marry Robert Rochfort, widowed heir to the earldom of Belfield, she finds that her idea of love is not returned. Jealous, cruel and manipulative, Robert ignores her after she has provided him with a male heir, preferring to spend his nights with his mistress. Power-hungry, Robert builds up a reputation that sees him reach for the highest positions in Ireland. 

Caught in an unhappy marriage, Mary begins to grow closer to Robert’s younger brother, Arthur. Acknowledging their love for each other, they will risk everything to be together. But Robert’s revenge threatens their lives and tears them apart. 

Will Mary and Arthur find a way to escape Robert’s clutches? 

Based on real events, Heart of Stone is a tale of power, jealousy, imprisonment, and love, set in 1740s Ireland.

What did I think?

John Jackson has based his debut novel on his real ancestors and states that, as a work of fiction, this is the story that he thinks they should have had.  The real Robert Rochfort can even be seen on the cover of the book, and I think perhaps that John has put him on there so that many readers can stick pins in him!  Robert Rochfort is an odious, officious man!  He did anything he wanted and treated people like dirt, simply because he could.  His answer whenever challenged was: 'because I can.'  As the first born son, he lorded over and envied his brothers: Arthur and George.

When Robert finds himself widowed and without an heir, he arranges to marry young and beautiful Mary Molesworth.  I thought of her a bit like Cinderella as her father clearly loves her but her (wicked) step-mother wants rid of her so she can concentrate on marrying off her own daughters.  Mary thought she was happy on her wedding day until she locks eyes with Robert's brother, Arthur.  In that one precious moment, she fell in love.  How cruel to fall in love on your wedding day, but not with your husband.  Mary is a respectable young woman, so she does her duty and, after bearing him a daughter, produces an heir for Robert.  Robert now has what he wants so drops Mary and spends all his time with his mistresses.  Trapped in a loveless marriage, Mary's eyes once again catch those of Arthur and she finds that her feelings are mirrored in his eyes.  They begin a very dangerous liaison, knowing that they will face the full force of Robert's fury should they ever be found out.

As this story is based around fact, it makes it so much more emotional.  The fate awaiting Arthur and Mary would melt even the coldest heart, although it didn't even chip Robert's Heart of Stone.  Robert is a cold and jealous man, who treats people like his property and has no concern for their feelings.  His jealousy for his brothers, especially George who inherited the family home, had me absolutely mesmerised and eventually in stitches.  You will not even believe the lengths Robert will go to in order to get one over on George and that part of the story is true!

The writing is impeccable; it is engrossing and authentic and the fact that it is based on real people makes it a superb read.  I do hope John Jackson has more stories up his sleeve as Heart of Stone was so hard to difficult to put down and I wouldn't hesitate to read more of John's books.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon UK

Buy it from Amazon US

About the author:

Following a lifetime at sea, John Jackson has now retired and lives in York and has now turned his hand to writing fiction.
An avid genealogist, he found a rich vein of ancestors. They included Irish peers, country parsons, and army and navy officers. They opened up Canada and Australia and fought at Waterloo.

John is a keen member of the Romantic Novelists Association and graduated through their New Writers Scheme. He is also a member of the Historic Novel Society and an enthusiastic conference-goer for both.

He describes himself as being "Brought up on Georgette Heyer from an early age, and, like many of my age devoured R L Stevenson, Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe and the like."

His modern favorite authors include Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Lindsey Davis, Liz Fenwick and Kate Mosse.

Twitter: @jjackson42

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