For fans of Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and The March by E.L. Doctorow comes a brilliant novel of the Old South.
Based on a true story set in antebellum Virginia, Masque of Honor is a riveting tale of romance, political intrigue and loyalty about two sons of the aristocracy and the women they loved.
Just after the end of the War of 1812, General Armistead Mason and his brother-in-law John “Jack” Mason McCarty become embroiled in a bitter dispute that puts in motion an irrevocable chain of events—leading them to the fight of their lives and an outcome that changes everything.
From a cold February morning in 1819 on the snow-covered dueling grounds in Bladensburg, Maryland, to the parlors of Virginia, the District of Columbia, and New York City, Masque of Honor will transport you to the past as only brilliantly detailed historical fiction can. From the men who shaped the law of the land to the women who loved them, this compelling novel is an accomplished, stunning debut.
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and with half my family residing in Virginia, I’m surprised I’ve not read more historicals set in the commonwealth. What a story this is.
Masque of Honor begins with a duel between two brothers-in-law, also cousins, and on top of that, both descendants of George Mason, a "founding father."
The reader doesn’t learn the outcome of the duel until much later in the story. The rest of the book is about each of these men and their families. One man is a politician, while the other is looking to find his own way.
Sharon Virts’ writing is beautifully descriptive and quickly transports to the time and place. I was engrossed in the storytelling of this most captivating and dynamic storyline. Masque of Honor was hard to put down, and I highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction!
3.5 stars rounded up for a slow moving historical fiction book based on an actual duel. The duel took place in 1819 in Maryland between General Armistead Mason and John "Jack" Mason McCarty, brothers-in-law and 2nd cousins. They are Virginia aristocrats, both descendants of founding father George Mason IV. Their animosity goes back to the War of 1812, and continues until Armistead challenges Jack to a duel, to defend his honor. Friends and family persuade them to declare a truce. But the truce is broken numerous times with more challenges. There is a sense of impending doom from the beginning of the book, since the reader knows that there is a duel in the end. However, the back and forth of challenges and truces moves ever so slowly. On the plus side, there are historically accurate descriptions of the clothing and mannerisms of this period. It took me 11 days to read this book of 400 pages. Two quotes: "But it was her eyes that captivated Jack. They sparkled with mischief and were the blue of cornflowers blooming in early summer. Miss Blue Eyes was draped in a soft pink gown with balloon cup sleeves and a neckline cut low enough to reveal most of her shapely breasts." Wedding Dress: "She had sewn the dress from an ivory brocade and had embellished it with lace and pearls. As the ceremony was initially planned to be held outdoors, she had embroidered flowers on the sleeves in purple and pink silk thread to mimic the blooms in the garden-lavender lilac, soft blushing spring roses, and the creamy petals of dogwood." I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank You Rosetta Books and Sharon Virts for sending me this book.
Masque of Honor, Sharon Virts' new novel, is a truly fascinating and compelling historical novel full of action and drama.
On a cold, snowy February morning in 1819 (ironically 202 years and 1 day before I wrote this), two men stand ready to duel to the death. They are Armistead Mason and Jack Mason McCarty, second cousins, brothers-in-law, and descendants of American founding father George Mason IV. Only one man will survive. (Doesn't this almost sound a little Hamilton-esque?)
What brought these two family members to this point? They pursued different paths and have different ideas, but Armistead’s involvement in politics is what causes the rift. When Armistead’s bid for Congress is unsuccessful and his ego pushes Jack too far, a chain of events is set into motion that ego and bravado will not allow them to step back from.
Living in Northern Virginia like I do, you can’t escape the name of George Mason. A university in the area bears his name, as does a chain of banks and even a major road. That connection, as well as my familiarity with so many of the locations in the book, made this even more fascinating.
I don’t read much historical fiction, particularly about this time period, but Masque of Honor drew me in immediately. Virts gives such an impeccable, well-researched sense of time and place, yet the themes are still so relevant, particularly during such a fractured time in the U.S. as we're living in now.
Even if historical fiction isn't among your usual genres, this book feels more modern than you'd expect.
Sharon Virts provided me with a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!
I just love reading about this coming-of-age story about these two young men, the heirs of Virginia aristocracy and political legacy from the colonial south.
The writing of Sharon Virts is completely engaging, immersive and quite readable. I really had fun learning about this time frame and the delivery of the family backgrounds in a well researched story based on true events, giving a fascinating read that is quite unputdownable.
The characters literally jump off the page as Virts slowly builds up the drama that lead to the duel between these two gentlemen who are brothers-in-law, the descendants of George Mason IV, General Armistead Mason and Jack Mason McCarty.
With deft, creativity and the skill of a master storyteller, Masque of Honor is a must read for historical fiction fans that enjoy an epic story about families, power, ambition and the price of protecting one’s honor.
I was given the opportunity to have a early read of this novel and I feel so honored to have had the chance. As a Canadian reading a American historical novel set in the South I was a little apprehensive about reading this and hoping I could following along with the history. But Sharon has done a wonderful job in pulling the reader into the era and making us feel we are there! With the added thoughts and life challenges of family members surrounding the main characters it gives the book a lighter feeling and not just two men puffing up their chests trying to right what they feel has been done to slander their names! It takes you into the minds of cunning men who will stop at nothing to advance their social standings and also their carers. You will love some and hate others and have humor injected when you least expect it! I would recommend you grab a large drink get into your favorite reading space and let Sharon carry you away to a bygone era! I wonder if there will be sequel and can I pre-order it now?
I got the opportunity from the author to be an early reader. Wow! The book draws you in from the start. The amazingly descriptive writing brings you right into the period and causes you to go through the same struggles that the characters do in the book. You know it is a great book when you find yourself thinking about the story and the characters when you're going about your daily life. If you enjoy history and a great drama, you'll love this writer's work. And the ending...... Truly captivating!
I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN!! I was lucky to get to read this book early and once I started reading I got swept up in the story. The characters were developed so fully and their lives written about so vividly that I was able to see them in my minds eye. The theme of the story is so well crafted that it really takes you back in time. I did not want this book to end.
A riveting novel that brings history to life in a very engaging tale of honor, pride, and ambition.
Armistead Mason and Jack McCarty’s families were related. Their parents were cousins, they were neighbors, and eventually, they became brothers-in-law when Jack’s brother William married Armistead’s sister Emily.
Despite their family connection, the two men had opposing political beliefs and aspirations that kept throwing them against one another.
Their combative nature turned their political rivalry into outright offense and dispute.
Based on real facts, Masque of Honor brings the reader to the heart of their dispute, culminating in the fateful duel that bonded them forever in history.
The book is very well-written and an absolute page-turner. Both main characters were extremely flawed, but they had a soft side that begged for mercy and understanding.
There was political intrigue, society gossip, military strategies, and even a little romance.
The side characters were remarkable. My favorites were Jack’s mother, Sally, and Armistead’s sister Emily.
I recommend buying this one on hardcover, as the book is wonderfully illustrated.
Masque of Honor is a must-read to all fans of historical fiction, American history, and family sagas.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was given the opportunity to read an Advance Reader Copy (Uncorrected Proof) from the author.
This book was fantabulous! The prologue starts out with a duel between Armistead (Armie) Mason and Jack McCarty. We don't know exactly how the duel ends until closer to the end. The book then tells us the stories of both of these men - their families, their loves and the discontent between these two men and what led to their duel.
The descriptions and story-telling are so rich that you feel as though you are there and I found that I couldn't stop thinking about these characters when I wasn't reading the book. Highly, highly recommend.
What an opening scene! The atmospheric setup for the duel between Armistead Mason and Jack McCarty set the tone for the rest of the novel. It's the intro that hooks you and the prose that keeps you rooted. You can see Virts' well researched knowledge flowing through the pages as the rivalry between these two men escalates. I found myself intrigued by the underlying issues but also caught up in their personal affairs as well. I am not one for politics and still found myself captivated by the underlying discourse of political chatter. That is saying something for someone like me!
This is a slow burn of a plot that allows the reader to really get to know the underlying issues and the flaws of the historical characters. Each character plays a role and carries a fleshed-out depth in this novel. What I really enjoyed was the romance aspect. Don't get me wrong, the duel and rivalry in itself is exciting to see playout, but the romance among all of the underhanded lies, cheating and turmoil just added another level for me. It was the ray of hope and promise amidst all of the corruption and struggle.
I would definitely recommend this novel to those who love the historical fiction genre. Virts has a beautifully captivating writing style that whisks you away into a vividly depicted 19th-century Virginia. Definitely one worth adding to your shelves.
Thank you to Sharon Virts for the gifted advance copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All thoughts are my own.
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Selma Mansion and hear a preview of the book. It got my attention quickly and I cannot wait to read the entire book. Learning more history on the Historic Selma Mansion always gets my attention. This book is definitely for the history loving fans. Go reserve your copy now!
Sharon Virts truly brings history to life in this meticulously researched retelling of the 1819 Mason-McCarty duel. Her characters leap off the page in vivid detail as she recounts the events that began at the tail end of The War of 1812 and culminated in the ultimate challenge on the “field of honor.”
The backstory to this book is really interesting. Virts purchased the Mason plantation manor home, Selma, and became interested in the man who built it, General Armistead Mason. Mason is the man who eventually challenges Jack McCarty to the duel.
Although this glimpse into the day-to-day life in nineteenth century Virginia was fascinating in many ways, let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. Plantation life was built on the backs of slaves. While the cruelty of slavery was acknowledged in one scene in the book, for the most part, it hums along in the background, enabling the characters to live a fairly idle life of parties, lavish dinners, sleeping in, and fox hunting.
It is hard to feel much sympathy for two privileged white Southern men who play at politics and engage in the 19th-century version of a Twitter war. While the insults that the men hurl back and forth at each other via newspapers and pamphlets were amusing at times, in the end dueling is deadly serious business (and it’s worth it to note that dueling was illegal in Virginia at the time).
If you are interested in a tale of the American South from a historical or psychological perspective, this is a book you shouldn’t miss. I am not providing a star rating for this book. Although the author did a fantastic job of researching and recreating this historical event, I just could not connect with the characters.
At the end of the book in the epilogue I discovered that the author based this story on historical stories, papers, and researching after purchasing the historical home she bought. Even thought the book had a few slow moving spots, the story line was very intriguing, made even more so when I found out that it was partly based on facts. Amazing. Those who are interested in history but prefers fiction this book is for you.
General Armistead Mason and John “Jack” Mason McCarty are brothers-in-law, second cousins and descendants of founding father George Mason IV. Both stubborn and ambitious set out to make a name for themselves and honor thy name they shall whatever it takes…even taking a life.
The two become overcome with hatred for one another that it sets in motion an irrevocable chain of events, leading them to the dueling grounds and an outcome that changes everything.
This brilliant tale is based on historical events of the 1819 Mason-McCarty duel. It is a tale about courage, love, romance, sacrificing and of course honor. Sharon Virts delivers a memorizing tale of historical drama that captures us from the first page! Pre-order your copy now! You do not want to miss out on this creative masterpiece! I was given an ARC copy of Masque of Honor for my honest opinion in review.
In writing this historical fiction novel the author has chosen interesting characters and an unique point in time. Focusing on Virginia’s aristocracy in 1819, we get to meet men where their honour is everything. We begin with a duel between the two men. These men are brothers-in-law and descendants of founding father George Mason. This is a beautifully written well researched book and I enjoyed the time period. Historical fiction fans will definitely enjoy this one.
Masque of Honor by Sharon Virts Masque of Honor based on historical events of the 1819 Mason-McCarty duel. It starts with family trees; it was so exciting to go over the names. Armistead and Jack are descendants of George Mason IV. They both are trying to achieve respect and love on their own, but they end up in the dueling ground. Through the story, you get to know each man and their family. I really liked how the writing and detailed description pulled me into the era and made me feel I was there with all the characters and experiencing the same struggles. The well-written storyline made the book captivating. The details were perfectly portrayed, and the choice of characters were brilliant. If you are a fan of history, then this is the book for you. There are different parts of the story that moves slowly but that is part of reading history, I guess. this book did not disappoint me.
I was provided an early copy of the book by the author. I was immediately pulled-in by the characters and the dramatic story that unfolds. It was a hard book to put down as I was taken to "another time" and the detail of the characters and depth of the story kept me fully engaged from beginning to end. The story builds to an incredible crescendo that you will think about long after you have finished reading the book. I strongly recommend this book.
I was given the chance as one of the first to read the book. I have followed Sharon and Selma for a few years on her Facebook pages and visited Selma for an early reading of the book last Christmas. I am a proud Virginian and couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. I loved everything about the book from the first glance of the cover with the grand Miss Selma standing proud on the cover with her towering columns. Sharon was very descriptive throughout the entire book. I could perfectly imagine each scene, and character. I loved the addition of the drawings of each historical home through out the book. I also liked having the family tree in the beginning of the book to refer back to when I needed clarification of the relationships between the characters. My favorites in the book were Sally McCarty, her son Jack, and of course Lucinda Lee. When imagining Lucinda I pictured her sounding and looking much like Scarlet from Gone With The Wind, but with blonde hair. I imagined Jack as being tall dark and handsome. Jack was a very deep, mature and wise soul for his age. He was very confident and ambitious yet prideful and cautious. He was a very loving son, brother, and friend. I could feel the love that he had for Lucy. Even though Armistead was considered a hero of sorts, I couldn't find it in myself to like any parts of him. The mothers in the book reminded me a lot of myself with sons. The male characters in the book were somewhat promiscuous but they were very careful that the line between lust and love never crossed. Even though it was historical it still parallels with modern day lives, and controversy, and how lust can destroy relationships, and pride can get you killed. All and All I give the book 5 stars. As I got close to the end, It took me a few days to finish. It was hard to put down, but at the same time I didn't want it to end.
Set in 1816 Virginia, Sharon Virts weaves a marvelous story (based on true events) of 2 aristocratic brother-in-laws Armistead Mason and John Mason Mcarty who are willing to fight to defend their own dreams and their own futures on their own terms. Sharon does an amazing job of recreating the past and dropping her readers right into the middle of it. Her description of Selma Manor is staggering in it's detail, while her characters are alive with style, passion and conviction. Settings, customs, clothing, nothing escapes Ms Virts eye for detail that brings a life to the story that rises above the pages of the book. The story moves smoothly and never shy's away from the complexities that Armistead and John are at ends about, while still maintaining it's momentum. I found myself constantly thinking about the people and the plot from page to page. And i'm sure like many who have read the book I found it hard to put down. From start to finish "Masque of Honor" is a captivating story driven by intrigue and conviction. Although it is the author's debut novel it is written with the seasoning of a polished veteran writer. If you haven't read this one yet, I recommend you do.
"Through the blizzarding snow, he fixed his eyes on Armistead's...Adrenaline released into his veins. He tightened his grasp on the musket's stock. There was no turning back."
Author Sharon Virts can write a tension filled duel scene like no other. I literally sat up in bed my heart pounding as I read the above passage.
The Masque of Honor by Sharon Virts is the epic tale based on the very real 1819 Mason - McCarty duel. It is a story about dreams, bravery, family, sacrifice and, above all, honor.
Armistead and Jack are brother in laws, second cousins and part of Virginia's first family as descendants of George Mason a founding father of the United States. Armistead is a born politician while Jack is a wandering adventurer. They also begin and end this book with a duel to the death.
It is astounding to me that this is the writer's first novel. It is written with such deep nuances of perfect storytelling. I was completely immersed in the lives of these two men. I was invested in their families, friends and colleagues. I needed to know everything about them. Their fights, their loves, their passions were all consuming for me. It was really hard to come to the end of this book. It was like losing a very dear friend.
Masque of Honor is a must read for everyone not just historical fiction fans. Much like the musical play Hamilton it is the story of our past, of those that sacrificed for our future and why we need to remember we are all a part of this country.
I received a free copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
If you are a fan of historical fiction, this new book by Sharon Virts is for you. It is based on the historical events of the 1819 Mason-McCarty duel. You might be like me and say what/who is this about? This is the reason why I love historical fiction. You learn a part of history through factual events mixed with a slice of fiction to make reading about something historical a pleasure, and not something that feels like homework. The novel will bring you back to a place and time where dueling, yes dueling was still happening in this country. It is the story of two men, John "Jack" Mason McCarty and General Armistead Mason who are actually second-cousins and become involved in a dispute which leads up to the duel. Interwoven with these two men's families and their love lives, at times it is a little juicy but also leaves much to the imagination. You will want to keep turning onto the next page to see what's next. Lover of historical fiction? I guarantee you will want to read this book!
What a great historical novel this was and my first one I have ever read ! Love this whole time period so intriguing this book was ! Love , love lost , love found and love always winning in the end ! Truly admired this novel so wonderfully written with history and passion and politics ! Definitely a must read for sure ! Loved the hero and heroin in the book the story of Lucinda and Jack ! The rivalry between Armistead and Jack until the bitter end ending in a duel where only one man can come out of it alive ! Love love love this book ! Couldn’t put it down ! A real historical page turner !
I’m not generally a huge fan of historical fiction, but absolutely loved this mesmerizing page-turner. The complex characters come alive through the pages of this compelling story, and I’ve found myself thinking about them ever since I turned the final page. As I do when watching The Crown, I found myself Googling to find out which parts were imagined, and which were ripped from the headlines of history. I learned a lot along the way and really enjoyed the journey—highly recommend!
Honestly, I'm a bit of a historical fiction snob. I have a few friends who are indeed well-published in the genre and I thought I was quite happy. I found Sharon Virts and her new book purely by accident, scrolling Facebook one night. Once I found the novel was based on her historical home, I knew I had to read it. I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. The characters are well developed and engaging, I found myself actually talking to them through the book. Historical details are deftly woven throughout the storyline making it enjoyably readable. Face it, reading about history is not always exciting. Reserve your copy now!
A historical fiction novel based on one of the greatest untaught events in Virginia/colonial history.
I’ve lived in the northern Virginia area my entire life, 20 minutes from George Mason Uni, and never in my life have I leaned about this historical event in any classroom. I am extremely blessed to have received an advanced readers copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I love historical fiction novels, especially when they are about Virginia’s history.
Definitely worth a read when this book hits the shelves. Highly recommend, not just to those living in northern Virginia, but to anyone that’s a fan of historical fiction.
Really enjoyed the book, great historical fiction! The author does a great job bringing the characters and events to life. Living in Virginia, close to where the duel took place, makes it even more real. Her website has lots of interesting background information on the people and events in the book - make sure to check that out too - sharonvirts.com.