I'm looking to buy either a Jotul Rockland wood fireplace insert or a Vermont Castings Montpelier insert - would anyone have comments or advise?
I would avoid the VC. Sad to say they've been sold so many times we really don't know their future. Last I heard a real company bought them, but until there's some consistancy in the product I would stay away. Most stove shops here in Vermont aren't even selling them anymore.
You might want to take a look at Hearthstone stoves, too. They've got soapstone panels in a cast iron frame and are beautiful. Besides free-standing and true inserts, they have one model (the one I bought) that is designed to stand back up to a fireplace but have the appearance of a free-standing stove.
I have the Jotul and I love it.