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In this stunningly creative debut “filled with well-drawn characters…and smoldering passion,” (Booklist) Nicole Castroman reimagines the origins of history’s most infamous pirate—Blackbeard.
When Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, returns home from a year at sea, he finds his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, all Teach wants is to return to the vast ocean he calls home. There’s just one problem: he must convince his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following the death of her parents, Anne Barrett is left penniless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne takes a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks and Anne longs to escape the confines of her now mundane life. How will she ever achieve her dream of sailing to Curaçao—her mother’s birthplace—when she’s trapped in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn together by a shared desire for freedom, but kept apart by Teach’s father, their love is as passionate as it is forbidden. Faced with an impossible choice, Teach and Anne must decide whether to chase their dreams and leave England forever—or follow their hearts and stay together.
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Bristol, England 1697
After Anne’s father died, her mother often said that sorrow was the only sun that rose for them. Her mother had since followed him into the darkness of death, leaving Anne to face the dawn alone.
That morning was no different, the thick clouds overhead were determined once again to release their pent-up frustration on her. In the crowded marketplace and its stalls, the air smelled of sweet water on damp stone and wood, accompanied by the tang of blood.
Other maids and cooks from the large homes in the city bartered and bought, their weary voices calling for pheasant, venison, and veal. Anne stood in line with her pail of fruits and vegetables, hoping she wasn’t too late to get the better cuts of meat. At last she stepped up to the butcher, the many coins in her pocket reminding her of her errand’s importance.
The butcher winked, his brown eyes almost black. “Good to see you, Anne. What’ll it be today?”
“Master Drummond wants venison tonight,” she said, inspecting the haunches and shoulders hanging from the stall’s center beam. The butcher’s eyes followed her with the same consideration. With his fair hair, some might have called him handsome, but she only saw his yellowed teeth and smelled his rank breath. If Master Drummond hadn’t insisted she buy from this particular butcher, she would have found a different one long ago. He was at least twice her sixteen years, and though his apron was clean, the look on his face was not.
“Aye, his son is coming home, isn’t he?” he said, leaning forward across the table. “Been gone a year at sea.”
Anne took a step back, pulling her shawl more firmly around her, and finally met his gaze. “Yes, which means there’s no time to waste. I must return to the house as quickly as possible. I’ll take that one,” she said, pointing to a fleshy red hindquarter.
The name Drummond was always on someone’s lips, for Richard Drummond was one of the wealthiest merchants in the city. In four weeks’ time one of the largest ships ever built, the Deliverance, would set sail from Bristol. It was Master Drummond’s showpiece.
“Oi, you can’t have that one. This one’ll have to do,” the butcher said, poking a knife into a thin portion of meat in front of him. It was old, the flesh tough and hard, the fat contracted.
Anne’s face flushed with anger, and she wished for the hundredth time that she could purchase elsewhere. “And why would I want that piece?” she asked sharply. “Do you know what the master would do if I served that for dinner tonight?”
The butcher grinned. “I know what I’d do,” he said.
Gritting her teeth, she gave him what she hoped was a haughty look. “What else do you have?”
Unexpectedly, he grabbed her arm, pulling her close so that her pail hit the table, spilling the produce onto the cobblestones beneath their feet.
“Don’t act so high and mighty with me. I’ve already told you. I’ll give you the best cuts, but this time it’ll cost you a little extra,” he sneered. “I’ve been a patient man. If you want to please your master, you’re going to have to please me first.”
Like a dragonfly caught under glass, her heart fluttered. She’d become accustomed to his lewd suggestions, but the grip of his grimy fingers on her arm filled her with a new sense of panic.
“You can please yourself,” she hissed, wrenching her arm out of his grasp. With shaking hands she quickly picked up the fruits and vegetables, not bothering to wipe the dirt from their skins. The butcher laughed, an ugly sound that made her stomach churn. She glared at him, turned on her heel, and barreled through the crowd in an attempt to put as much distance between herself and his stall as possible.
The devil hang him. If Master Drummond wants venison for his son’s return, he should come down here and buy it himself. If the butcher tries to touch me again, I’ll stick him like the pig he is.
Only after she was several rows away did Anne stop and lean against a brick wall to catch her breath, aware of the suspicious glances thrown her way.
Despite the fact that it was a major seaport, most of the inhabitants of Bristol were still unused to Anne’s appearance. She was the illegitimate daughter of a prosperous English merchant and a West Indies slave, and people didn’t know how to react to the mix of her mother’s coppery skin and her father’s blue eyes. It was obvious Anne didn’t fully belong to either race, and others often viewed her with either distaste or distrust.
Wearily she straightened, her fingers reaching for her mother’s small, gold watch hidden in her pocket, a habit whenever she was upset or distressed. She needed to find something else to cook for dinner, and quickly. With rows and rows of stalls, it would not be too difficult to find a new butcher, but she doubted she’d be able to find the same quality.
The church bell chimed the top of the hour, which meant Anne needed to head back to the manor, but there was no decent venison to be found. Desperate, Anne settled instead upon a clean stall near the edge of the market and bought two pheasants from a small, elderly woman with a hunched back and frail shoulders.
The woman took the coins Anne handed her and slipped them into her pocket, watching Anne intently the entire time. Anne ignored it, used to the scrutiny by now, after years of prying glances. “Do you ever have venison?” Anne asked, the poultry safely tucked beneath her arm.
The old woman nodded. “Aye, but we sold out first thing this morning.”
Just my luck.
“I’ll be back in the future,” Anne assured her, before heading into the busy horde. From now on she would buy from the old woman’s stall. Anne was the only one that Master Drummond sent to the market. There was no need for him to discover where Anne acquired his meals—she did not understand why he took such an active interest in his purchases anyway.
Part of her hair escaped her thick braid and cap, and she impatiently stuffed the stubborn black strands underneath, thinking of all the work that had yet to be done. A party of six would be eating dinner that afternoon, and she needed to get the pheasants home as quickly as possible.
Her feet turned in the direction of the harbor. Shrimp was a favorite treat of Master Drummond’s, and she had enough money left over. Although it wouldn’t be a lot, it might be enough to dampen his ire. If she could not secure the shrimp, she feared he might send her back to the workhouse, where she’d have to labor alongside the rest of the city’s penniless inhabitants in exchange for handouts. The thought sent a shiver running down her back.
As Anne approached the docks, the sound of seagulls intensified and the bells on distant boats could be heard more clearly. Her father had sometimes brought her here very early in the morning or late at night, when not many people were about. He’d said that the presence of the sea gave the very skies a special quality, one that could not be duplicated.
There was freedom here. It flowed through the air and lifted the sails of the vessels as they left. How often in the last five months had she been tempted to stow away, sail off, and leave this life behind? Her mother had filled her head with stories of the West Indies, and her father had always promised to take her to her mother’s island one day.
The familiar sights and sounds of the waterfront drew Anne in. It was hard to take a breath without inhaling the scent of salt and fish, and no one could speak without having to raise their voice over the cries of the gulls. Anne managed a smile, her first one all week.
The fishmonger she usually bought from saw her coming and straightened, returning her smile. “Good morning, Anne. You’re a bit late this morning, aren’t you?”
She nodded regretfully. “Yes, indeed. I don’t have much time, but I need some shrimp,” she said, referring to the small barrel behind him, full of the plump, gray crustaceans. “Two pounds should do.”
He flinched. “I’m truly sorry, but those have been purchased.”
Fear sharpened Anne’s voice. “What? The whole barrel?”
“Aye. Someone came in and bought the lot.”
“But I must have two pounds. Surely you can spare some,” she said.
“They’re not mine to spare. Though, you can ask him yourself, if you like,” the fishmonger said, pointing at someone over Anne’s shoulder.
She turned in time to see a large figure approaching. He was at least a head taller than she, with a broad chest, and muscular legs clearly visible in the brown breeches he wore. A cutlass hung from his waist, beneath his short jacket. He was tanned, and the hair on his head and the beard on his face were as black as the thatched roofs surrounding the dock.
She took an involuntary step backward as he stopped beside her. He gave her a cursory glance, his green eyes bright, before turning his attention to the fishmonger. His voice was smooth and low when he spoke. “Instead of taking them myself, I’d like you to deliver—”
Desperation drove Anne to interrupt him. “Please, sir. Might I have a word with you?”
Once again those green eyes turned in her direction. This time he afforded her a more complete perusal, and she swallowed the distaste in her mouth. He was no gentleman. His appearance suggested a simple sailor, someone who could not possibly afford the entire barrel.
“Yes?” he asked.
“It’s about the shrimp. I was wondering if I could take two pounds from the top and pay you for them.”
A woman came from behind and called to the fishmonger. He turned to help her, leaving the shabby sailor and Anne to their conversation.
When he had first approached, she’d thought him much older, for he was taller than most men. On closer inspection, she realized he couldn’t have been more than nineteen. His expression warmed as he considered her. He was interested, clearly, but Anne wasn’t sure if it was her proposal or her appearance.
“There is more than one stall that sells shrimp,” he said.
She was not to be deterred. She’d already lost one battle this morning and could not afford to lose another. The last cook who hadn’t provided the master’s favorite meal for a special occasion had been fired and kicked out onto the streets.
As much as Anne disliked living in the Drummond household, it was preferable to the gutter. And if she went to another household, there was no guarantee she could secure enough funds to begin a new life. “Yes, but this man has the most honest scales and the freshest fish. Since I am unable to buy from him, I have no choice but to ask you. Surely you would not miss two pounds,” she pressed.
The corners of his mouth lifted, and his green eyes twinkled. “Ah, but I would. Have you considered oysters as a substitute?”
Anne pursed her lips. Master Drummond hated oysters. “No, it must be shrimp. Please, I have a very important meal—”
It was his turn to interrupt. “I, too, have an important meal, for which I need the entire barrel.”
No doubt trying to impress some girl and her family. “I have enough coin. How much would it take?” she asked briskly.
He paused for a moment, still considering her. She shifted uncomfortably beneath his gaze but refused to back down. The crowd surrounding them thinned, evidence that time was wasting. Her eyes begged him to comply.
“Perhaps I’ve been too hasty. We could discuss the price,” he said, reaching boldly for her arm.
An image of the butcher flashed before her eyes, but this time there was no table to separate her from her attacker. Jerking free of his hold, Anne brought the pail forward, hitting the sailor soundly between the legs. He dropped to his knees, the breath escaping his lungs with a pained “Ooof,” his eyes no longer twinkling.
“Keep your hands to yourself, you filthy sea rat! Even if you were to offer me the full barrel, I wouldn’t go anywhere with the likes of you!”
For the second time that morning, Anne rushed away from an unwelcome advance, cursing softly beneath her breath. She felt the sailor’s eyes following her, burning a hole into the back of her head, but she didn’t turn around. He was in no condition to give chase, at least not now.
Hurrying from the docks, she reached once again for her mother’s pocket watch. A shiver ran down her spine and she sent up a silent prayer, asking that Master Drummond’s heart would be softened and that she wouldn’t find herself on the receiving end of his fury.
Anne also prayed that her path would not cross again with that of the sailor’s, for if it did, she knew with certainty that she would not leave the encounter unscathed.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was able to get my hands on an ARC of Blackhearts and shortly thereafter, devoured the novel. I don't typically say things like this, actually, I've never said this about any novel: Blackhearts was delicious to read. There is no other way to say it. Castroman effortlessly engaged me in the world of Blackhearts and had me completely sucked into Anne and Teach's stories. The closer I came to finishing Blackhearts, the more I wished it would never end. I was enjoying the writing, the setting, and the characters far too much for any type of resolution the author had in store for me. Of course, like all excellent novels, Blackhearts does have quite the ending. In fact, it shocked me. Nicole left me completely speechless, so of course I had to tell anyone who was awake at the time about the great injustice that had just been wrought upon my soul. Quite frankly, Anne and Teach remind me of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in many ways. While their relationship is distinctively different, I can't help but draw a comparison between Castroman and Austen's literary characters. I am in no way implying one is like the other, but Blackhearts did pleasantly remind me of Austen's novel and that couldn't be a higher compliment coming from me. (You should know that Pride & Prejudice was the first novel that I ever finished and wanted to reread immediately.) Castroman is definitely an author to watch in the coming years and I am hoping to see much more from her. Lets cross our fingers that she signs on for another novel. I need a sequel.
I often love stories about pirates an in this book the tale of Blackbeard and his origins are wonderful. Here is wit and humor mixed with some romance and it was well written. I definitely can't wait to read the next book in the series!
this book is a featured free read over at riveted.com. i've been reading a lot of books over there and it has been an amazing experience learning about new books that I heard but never thought of reading. i decided to pick this book up because (1) we are currently moving, all my books are in the house that we're going to move to and i have nothing to read, (2) i heard so many good things about this book, and (3) i never read anything historical for awhile and this is a new experience. I'm quite indifferent about pirates. and i didn't even think that Blackbeard was a real person! i actually though that Blackhearts was a retelling of Blackbeard, but I was so wrong, as this is a historical fiction! and i loved it! i searched a few things about Blackbeard, so I actually thought that this book was more action, more being at sea and I could've been more wrong! this book is actually more romance! Anne has been such an amazing character to read. Since the book is written on the third person, I would never know how she would think nor Teach. but for me, Anne shined so much! her behavior, demeanor, personality are such amazing things. both Anne and Teach are very well written characters and I just truly love them. especially, how their love-hate develops into just banters and you just know that they love each other! so good! the whole story in itself is so good. both their struggle to be free keeps you wanting to be on their side and cheering them on. their drive toward their goal is very emotionally charged that you feel for them. the flow of the story and the subplots are very well paced and you'll appreciate how everything just falls into place. i also have to commend the anti-heroes in the story. the very reason you keep cheering Anne and Teach on is because of these annoyingly cruel people. theses characters also have a drive of their own that are too selfish to even consider being good. so very well written characters! if there's anything that bothered me was some sweet adorable parts that came in suddenly after a very weird happening. i don't want to elaborate due to spoilers... but i think you'll get what i mean when you read it. Amazing book, superb characters and so much more. this book has many things up its sleeve like diversity, ranking, unfairness, injustice and just the fight for personal freedom. Would definitely read the next book!
pooled ink Reviews: After concluding this book I must say I cannot see how publishing could not approve a sequel! In fact it seems more than warranted. It is needed. Anne and Teach’s story is far from over and I am determined to see it through to the end. This book merely takes us to a halfway point and halfway, while beloved, is not enough for us. A twinge Downton Abbey or Pride and Prejudice at first but it's promised to be Pirates of the Carribbean in the sequel (if approved of course)! BLACKHEARTS is more than a simple origin story for the legendary Blackbeard. It is a tale of romance, of challenge, of strength, and of freedom. Reading about villains is interesting but there is nothing quite as thrilling as reading a story entailing how they became such. Heart-stopping and mind-gripping, this pre-pirate novel will stake its claim on the land and turn its sails toward the seas. Read my FULL review here: https://pooledink.com/2016/02/26/blackhearts-2/
A historical fiction about a notorious pirate? Sign me up! Blackhearts builds a wonderful story about Edward Teach and what he was before he became Blackbeard. The son of a wealthy merchant, Teach had every luxury in life, except the freedom to do what he wanted. He lived for adventure, and the sea, and sees a kindred heart in Anne, a biracial girl who feels out of place in a time that is very racist. Anne is the hidden illegitimate daughter of his family friend, but comes to work as a maid in his household. Their initial interactions are charged more with frequent arguments, and it slowly develops into a tentative friendship and eventually into romance. Certainly helps that the both of them are beautiful. A big part of the storyline is the divide between them: society won’t ever look at their relationship at properly, and his father would have him make an advantageous match. The pirate part is not really a part now, but there certainly is foreshadowing. Teach’s gentle character and the way the author spoke of how she came to write this story certainly add an extra dimension to this infamous historical figure. Anne’s role in the storyline and her voice, too, complement the plot so well, but I feel her story has much more to tell. This is definitely a series I am eager to be following.
Actual rating: 4.5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you go into this book expecting lots of pirates and action you'll be disappointed. This story is a Blackbeard origin story and does require you to keep an open mind. It's historical fiction that focuses on a slow burn romance. And let me tell you, that slow burn aspect of the romance is super satisfying. No instalove here guys! I really enjoyed both Anne and Teach as characters and I thought their romance made perfect sense for the time period. Yes there is sexism and racism in this story, but I feel it's important to the story. Our two main characters love story is super scandalous for the time period. We have a young maid whose father is a very wealthy merchant and mother a cook in her father's household from the islands of the West Indies, and a young man that comes from wealth and whose father is determined to secure a title of importance for his family. A romance between the two would be nearly impossible, and I enjoyed every minute of it. This is not a standalone novel, and it really set up a wonderful story for the next novel/s. I do think the next novel will have more pirates and action so if that's what you're here for then hang in there. This ended on a huge cliffhanger and I can't wait until Spring '17 for the sequel!
I absolutely adored this book! It's thrilling and romantic (the tension!), and I just did not want to put it down. Despite some characterization and prose issues that did not resonate with me, the story sucked me in completely, and I still consider it a 5-star read, one of my top reads of 2016. I am eagerly anticipating the sequel next year!!
After I got my hands on Blackhearts, I devoured it in no time. I don't typically say things like this, actually, I've never said this about any novel: Blackhearts was delicious to read. There is no other way to say it. Castroman effortlessly engaged me in the world of Blackhearts and had me completely sucked into Anne and Teach's stories. The closer I came to finishing Blackhearts, the more I wished it would never end. I was enjoying the writing, the setting, and the characters far too much for any type of resolution the author had in store for me. Of course, like all excellent novels, Blackhearts does have quite the ending. In fact, it shocked me. Nicole left me completely speechless, so of course I had to tell anyone who was awake at the time about the great injustice that had just been wrought upon my soul. Quite frankly, Anne and Teach remind me of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in many ways. While their relationship is distinctively different, I can't help but draw a comparison between Castroman and Austen's literary characters. I am in no way implying one is like the other, but Blackhearts did pleasantly remind me of Austen's novel and that couldn't be a higher compliment coming from me. (You should know that Pride & Prejudice was the first novel that I ever finished and wanted to reread immediately.) Castroman is definitely an author to watch in the coming years and I am hoping to see much more from her. Lets cross our fingers that she signs on for another novel. I need a sequel.
4.5 Stars 'Blackhearts' is a thrilling historical retelling of the legend of Blackbeard - before he became a notorious pirate. The author brings this mysterious man to life before our eyes - not as a scary pirate captain, but as the young son of one of Bristol's richest men. During the novel, we get to know him on a deep level - his dreams, hopes, fears, memories, and so much more. I knew basically nothing about Blackbeard before reading the book, which didn't make much of a difference (in my opinion). I loved getting to know "Teach" as a young sailor who's dreams are incredibly opposite of his actual life situations. The other main character of the story is Anne, a young lady who used to be well off in life - until both of her parents died, and she's forced to work as a maid for Master Drummond (who is, of course, Teach's father). She has dreams of her own - traveling to the island where her mother was born and escaping her long days as a servant. Just like Teach, her dreams are incredibly different than the life she's forced to live. We get to know Anne on a deep level throughout the book. Just like Teach, we learn her dreams, hopes, fears, memories, and so many other things. The author really brings both characters to life before our eyes and I loved getting to know each of them. Obviously, Teach and Anne meet each other, and things begin to grow from there. They're incredibly similar in their life situations and dying to escape from them. I absolutely loved watching their relationship grow and change throughout the novel - the author made it feel authentic and realistic. Teach and Anne complement and challenge each other - they're a fantastic couple and I enjoyed their romance in the book. The plot wasn't completely unique - I'm sure that this type of story has been done several times before - but the author was able to breathe fresh air into the genre. The growing trend of pirates is becoming overwhelming, but this book was able to rise above the others because of several aspects incorporated throughout. The characters are interesting and easy to identify with early on in the book. The setting was perfect for the novel, which only made it easier for me to slip inside the world the author created. The plot was fascinating with a natural flow and a quick pace - which made it a fast read for me. Another aspect that jumped out at me right away was the use of dual narratives - from both Teach and Anne. The only thing that I wished the author had done differently was the point of view. I'm a huge fan of the first person POV, mainly because of the deeply personal bond the reader creates with the narrator. The author chose to write the novel in the third person, which was still well done - but I feel that it could have been so much better if it had been told from Teach's and Anne's perspectives. Please remember that this is my personal opinion and other readers won't have the same views as mine. Although the book was done in the third person style, it didn't detract from my reading experience at all. I very highly recommend this book to fans of the genre as well as those who enjoy reading about pirates, retellings, and historical fiction! Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
4.5 stars I didn't know much about Blackbeard except that he was a pirate, so when I saw the synopsis of Blackhearts, I was eager to read it. Loved Anne and Teach. They're both passionate and have such plans for the future. Even though they seem to be different in the beginning, there are a lot of similarities, and I throughly enjoyed reading things evolve. It was a bit of a slow burn, but it is ridiculously satisfying. The ending isn't exactly what I wanted, but I was satisfied. All in all, it was an interesting story and I was captivated from the beginning. **Huge thanks to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
I found Blackhearts a super interesting and fun backstory to one of the baddest pirates known-- Blackbeard. Several times, actually, I forgot that this was a Blackbeard retelling; not in a bad way, but because Edward "Teach" Drummond is the opposite of what you expect Blackbeard to be: kind, handsome, and stubborn. They are, of course, some similarities like a head of adventure but a penny in the pocket. With that being said, there is some incredible character development seen in Edward. He goes from saying, "I can't" to "I can't let my father know." I also like the romance! I really respected Anne for her decisions while Teach was engaged to Miss Patience. Anne didn't give in to her desires and I respect that so much. More often than not, love interests get together despite the several, several stacked odds against them. There is no doubt that Anne and Teach face some societal issues, but it's realistic. Odd note, but I didn't really expect it to be a historical fiction...? I get it now, but I totally went into this thinking it'd be an alternate world! There is more to the romance, too! In fact, I'd go as far as to market this book as a historical fiction "The Real Housewives of England." Some of the conflict is super drama and catty. I liked it! ANYWAY, my next point: person of color main character! I am incredibly happy that Anne is a POC, even if it's just a shade or two darker! I usually struggle picturing POC main characters because, simply, Caucasian is unfortunately my default race. Even when race is mentioned, I often forget. Yet, in Blackhearts I know her race and I'm aware of that. Even though this is a historical fiction and it's somewhat inaccurate to have a POC as a royal, per se, Castroman makes it work. It's not forced and it shows how there is no excuse for diversity, even and especially in historical fiction. The writing style is superb as well! As you can see above, I picked out some of my favorite quotes. The voice is authentic for the time era, though a bit confusing, and it flows. This does have a dual POV, but I enjoyed it. However, there were still some things I disliked. I went into this expecting some pirate-y action and adventure, yet I was disappointed. It's more romance than adventure... In fact, they stay on land for 99% of the book, which kinda sucked considering the synopsis. In addition, Master Drummond's mood swings annoyed me so much! I couldn't get a clear picture of who the man is and it was upsetting how many times he got upset. He, as the kids say, has no chill. Finally, the ending was... interesting. It was chilling, for sure, but as a standalone, there isn't a set conclusion. Other people liked that but it was super unexpected for me. I was nearing the last few pages and I said, "This isn't enough time to tie everything together?!" and by the end of it I said,"That's it?! Really?" In other words, As you can see, there are more things I liked than didn't. I recommend this to those who like historical fiction romance, as this is the perfect book for it. The small diversity is my favorite part about it and I hope to read more historical fictions with POC! I had some problems with the pitch and its execution, and the ending which was very open-ended. However, like I said, there are more things I like than I don't.
I really had a love-hate relationship with this book. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, so that affected how I viewed the rest of the book, but it also wasn’t horrible. While Anne isn’t one of my favorite characters and Teach can be a tad creepy at times, their love story was interesting and made sense. The story was predictable, yet intriguing enough to continue on. I don’t know if this is part of a series, but the ending definitely leaves a fantastic opportunity to finally include more pirate badassery!
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication Date: February 9, 2016 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything. Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back. Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England? From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay. What I Liked: I'm actually kind of mad at this book right now - how dare it end that way! The book was excellent, such a good read, until the ending. Rationally I know I probably should have expected the ending, given Blackbeard's true history, but it still made me bitter. Anyway, the book is REALLY good. The ending is... not. Anne is a maid in the Drummond household, despite the fact that her father was a merchant. Her mother was a West Indian slave in his household, and so Anne's mixed heritage does her no favors. When Master Drummond's son Edward ("Teach") returns from a year at sea, everything in the Drummond household changes. Teach's engagement progresses, which brings his awful fiancee to the house often. But from the moment Teach and Anne meet, it's like lightning, fire, fate. Teach knows he shouldn't be interested in the help, but Anne seems like more than a maid to him. Anne knows she shouldn't be interested in the master's son, but Teach is so much more than a wealthy man's son... This book is written in third-person dual POV, switching between Anne and Teach, starting with Anne. This is my favorite type of narration (third-person dual), and Castroman writes it well. I loved seeing the story unfold from both sides. Usually I'll end up loving one character and feeling kind of meh about the other - not the case here! Anne is a lovely and complex character. She's judged everywhere she goes, because she's of mixed heritage (white father, West Indian mother). She was sent to the Drummond household to work. Anne is the only one of the household who knows who her father was (a rather important man), and so she knows she isn't supposed to be a maid. She longs to be free, to go to the West Indies, to stretch her wings and fly. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
Before he was known as Blackbeard, the pirate who could strike fear into hearts of men without striking a physical blow, he was Edward, nicknamed Teach, a boy who wanted nothing more than freedom. Before there was Blackbeard's ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, there was Anne, the girl who became the queen of his heart. This is the story of their unlikely yet inevitable romance. Prepare to be swept away.
Let’s get one thing straight- I loved everything about this book. Everything. Except, perhaps, the ending, because I wasn’t ready for it. The plot was much different than I anticipated, and the twists, although they weren’t ridiculously huge (i.e. an asteroid is heading for the earth, ahhhh!) they were unexpected, intriguing, and absolutely fabulous. They always came just when you were ready for something new to happen, and I must admit, this is one of the only times that I recognized the excellence of the pacing in a novel. It was a constant upswing, and although there weren’t action scenes every 15 pages, there was always something to make you go WHHHHAAAATTTTTT???? OOOOOOHHHHHH!!!!! So, basically, it was amazing. The plot didn’t get tiresome- sometimes with the historical novels set around this time, it can get repetitive. Dinner, dancing, suitor, dancing, gasp, dinner, gasp, dancing, etc. Those things are great when used to enhance the plot, but not when they’re the entire plot. Blackhearts stayed firmly away from that trend. There were dinners, yes. There was dancing, yes (and pretty dresses!!!). There was gasping (mostly by me), yes. But it served a purpose. It moved the plot forward, giving you important information and leading you to the climax very sneakily. It’s fantastic, until you reach the surprisingly quick conclusion. Then, if you’re like me, you just cry a little bit and search for the invisible last pages. CHARACTERS: Where do I even begin? This book had everything by way of characters. The variety was stunning- each had a specific voice, and they absolutely each elicited emotions from me. Teach? SWOON SWOON SWOON. He’s strong, he’s fierce, he’s powerful- but what I loved most about Teach was that even though he was one of the darker heroes, this wasn’t a twisted YA relationship, and it certainly wasn’t insta-love. This wasn’t one of those books where the girl becomes a doormat because a hot guy gives her the time of the day- and that brings me to Anne. Anne is the ultimate heroine- decisive, uncompromising, willing to do anything she has to so she can escape her life as a servant. She doesn’t resign herself to a life of misery, even though her only way out may be to do things she doesn’t want to do. I admired her unflinching spirit, even in the face of danger and ridicule, and I think we need more heroines in YA who think and act like Anne. Even falling in love can’t keep her from following her dreams. Even the characters that were minor were very distinctive and very entertaining. Drummond, Teach’s father, was such a conflict for me- it was a total love-hate relationship. He’s a great layer of conflict for the story, and I loved the way you see him shift and change- a totally dynamic character. Patience, William, Mary, Margery, etc., all enhanced the book as well- enough subplots to keep the book moving and keep your brain occupied, but not so much that it distracted from the main plot line. Their characters, while not as dynamic, were entertaining and they served a purpose- they weren’t just random characters introduced as filler. Sometimes when that happens it can make me close a book for a while because it’s overwhelming, but Nicole found another great balance with her characters and their roles. OVERALL: Did I mention how much love this book? FIVE STARS
Thanks to SimonTeen for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views. Okay, first of all, what was that ending? I'm so sad, but I probably shouldn't have been surprised, considering how Blackbeard's story tragically ended in real life. I'm kind of conflicted about this book -- it was more about his backstory and romance rather than the action and piracy. Though I doubt it'll happen, maybe we could have a sequel about his journey, including the conquests and actual pirate action? I'd totally read it. Anyway, the first thing that I really liked about this book was the characters. Especially Anne. She was the perfect protagonist! Sharp-witted, smart, and fierce, she was basically everything I wanted to see in a character. I never found her to be frustrating or petty, unlike some other book protagonists. Teach, however, was someone I didn't like at the beginning -- which was kind of the point. His advances toward Anne at the beginning were creepy, to say the least, and his attitude made me want to punch him. However, as the story progresses we really get to see him develop and start to care for him. As I said above, if you were looking for a bloody pirate story with tons of action then this probably isn't for you. However, the upside to this is that this was a very character-driven book. Not only does it explore Teach and Anne's relationship with each other, but it also dives into their individuality. They were dimensional and I loved how Anne's and Teach's separate characters were depicted. They came from completely different backgrounds, yet they still had the same goal -- freedom. The way their relationship progressed was amazing; the tension kept me reading and their dynamic was entertaining! The banter between them and Anne's witty lines made me laugh out loud. The book did a great job in portraying the sexism, racism, and classism present during that time period. The atmosphere was also amazing, allowing me to easily immerse myself into the setting. Excellent world building! All in all, this was a sweet, character-driven book showing the softer and more romantic side of Blackbeard (before he became Blackbeard) rather than the scary, legendary part we know of Blackbeard today. There were a few gaps and plot holes, but it was pretty satisfying overall. I'm familiar with the Blackbeard legend and I think the book sure did get its facts straight, thankfully. The relationships, characters, and atmosphere were portrayed really well, too. This was my first pirate book so I didn't quite know what to expect, but I'm definitely going to be reading more pirate books in the near future. I'd recommend this as a fast read, for sure!
4.5/5 Stars For lovers of Jane Eyre and other classic literature, you need Blackhearts in your life. This pre-swashbuckling tale of Blackbeard gives you an intriguing imagining of what the infamous man was like before his pirating days. Blackhearts is filled to the brim with romance and intrigue. I couldn't put down, even when real life responsibilities demanded that I did! This book can stand proud with the best classical literature novels that are out there, and I'm so excited for everyone to read it! It honestly gave me Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre feels! Beautifully written and filled with great passion and humor, Blackhearts ends in a grand finale that has me ready to start a petition for a sequel, and trust me—you'll want to sign it too. Read my full review on my blog here: http://www.bookrambles.com/2016/02/blog-tour-blackhearts-by-nicole.html