Monday, 23 October 2017

Heart of Stone by John Jackson
Release Date: 24th October 2017
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Genres:  Historic Fiction

Dublin, 1730

When young and beautiful Mary Molesworth is forced to marry Robert Rochford, 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.

I am thrilled to review Heart of Stone by my very good friend John Jackson who is a recent graduate of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme and deservedly is now published by Crooked Cat Books. Heart of Stone is John's debut novel and as debut novels go this is pretty damn good! 

Set in the 1700's Ireland during a turbulent period in history, we are introduced to the Rochford brothers, Robert, Arthur and George, all set to inherit wealth from their father upon his death. Robert is livid that his younger brother George has already produced an heir and unless he can find a wife to give him a son, then all the wealth will in time fall to George's sullen son. Robert has his sights on the young and impressionable Mary Molesworth. Mary is besotted by Robert and truly believes him to love her. However, it soon becomes evident that Robert only wants Mary to produce a son for him. She is nothing more than something he owns. Mary finds comfort from Arthur Rochfort who is the polar opposite of his bullying, aggressive and cold brother.

I can only imagine the amount of research that was required to write this novel and John Jackson has done a sterling job! My only criticism of the time period is the amount of going back and forth the landed gentry seemed to do throughout the year moving from one house to another depending on the season. It was exhausting! I felt very sorry for poor Mary constantly decamping at the barked orders of her hard-hearted husband.

John has written Mary's isolation and loneliness very well and can only imagine how desperate she felt at times. It was easy to understand how she would fall in love with Arthur was by far a more amenable character in contrast to Robert who is hell-bent on exacting revenge. The other brother George was a particularly horrible character, caring nothing for his starving tenants and completely focused only on how much money he can make. He, like Robert appeared to have a Heart of Stone!

1740 definitely was not a good time to be either a woman or a common man. John has described well the hardships faced during this time period and the lack of insight by some into the suffering going on in front of them. The rich and the poor were worlds apart on most fronts although the famine was a great leveller with some of the wealthy, including Mary herself finding times tough for herself and her children. 

Heart of Stone was a great read that I enjoyed. For those of you who enjoy historical novels with a romantic slant to them then this is definitely the book for you. A super story of love, passion, jealousy, revenge and the harsh realities of Ireland during this time period, John Jackson has  crammed so much into this fab book.  Looking forward to reading more from John. 


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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