Hey guys, how’s it going? 🙂
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a pirate books spree lately. After Daughter of the Pirate King, I was really in the mood for another pirate story and since Blacksouls (the second book in this series) had just recently come out, I thought I’d give it a go!
This review is completely spoiler-free.
- Title: Blackhearts (Blackhearts #1)
- Author: Nicole Castroman
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Publication Date: February 9th, 2016
- Page Count: 384
Edward “Teach” Drummond, a rich merchant’s son, realizes the sea might be his true home after spending an entire year aboard a ship. As he returns to Bristol, he meets Anne, a peculiar maid with an attitude, who he doesn’t seem able to get to. Anne has bigger plans for herself as well, but can they really leave their boring English existences behind?
I’d heard a lot about Blackhearts when it first came out and I was pretty excited about it! As a pirate fan, the story was very appealing to me. I’d actually forgotten most of the synopsis and knew only that this was about Blackbeard, so I was pretty unaware of what exactly was going to happen. And I think that was key to really enjoying this book.
Teach and Anne’s relationship was quite balanced. They rarely agreed on anything, and they had a bit of a rocky start, but eventually found their way.
I liked that whenever Teach was being forceful or pushy, Anne stood her ground and faced him head on. I liked that she was proud and stubborn herself, but not to the point of being rash. She was calculating and measured the consequences (mostly).
Their personality clashes were always entertaining to read, and despite feeling a bit uncomfortable with their relationship at first (more on that later) it did progress very nicely. The fact that we get two POVs makes it easier to understand what is going through their heads.
Gradually, I began to take a liking to Teach and eventually was very much in love. He was not a pleasant guy right away; in fact, quite the opposite. But he experienced quite the development and became an esteemed character.
The story is not just about romance, however. It’s actually about Anne and Edward’s personal journeys: their past, present and future. Their paths do end up converging but they remain separate individuals throughout the story, and their tales are told as such.
The plot twists were unexpected (except for maybe one) and many elements seemed to have been well thought out and planned to serve specific purposes later on, which was really cool. Castroman did her research on Blackbeard and those details made the story feel a lot more real and plausible. I found it a really interesting concept and was excited to learn more.
Anne is also biracial, for all of you looking for a more diverse heroine. Though that is certainly not what defines her as a person, it definitely gave her a great (back)story.
At first, I didn’t really connect much with either Anne or Teach. Their relationship (or prospect of it, anyway) didn’t sit too well with me, either. It felt a bit clichéd and, most of all, wrong. There were times where it seemed like he was attracted to her solely for the fact that she was “exotic” and “different” from other English girls (a.k.a. a challenge), and I just didn’t like it. He also acted like an asshole alpha male sometimes. But, thankfully, they seemed to move past that.
This book includes quite a bit of racism, sexism, slut-shaming, among other less appealing themes – which, I mean, made the story feel all the more realistic considering the era it depicts but just be warned.
Also, I felt it was mostly about Anne and not as much about Teach. So to call it Teach’s story would be innacurate.
In my opinion, I think it would have been a lot more enjoyable to allow the reader to get into the story unaware it was about Blackbeard. It would have been such a cool revelation! And that way, there would be no real expectations to trample. Knowing who he was beforehand was just… Well, not as exciting. Although I get why it was done, it might not have attracted the right audience.
This book is (or was) poorly marketed. This is not a Blackbeard story, but a Blackbeard’s origin story. This is before he became a pirate, thus there are no actual pirates in this (only hints of them). There are no adventures, no life at sea, no wars and no robbery.
This is a romance story, pure and simple. It depicts Teach’s relationship with his lover but also the struggles both go through to come into terms with their own identity. So going into this book thinking anything else will be a mistake since you will obviously not enjoy it.
If you do like romance and/or don’t mind waiting for the sequels (where the real Blackbeard story will take place, it seems), then by all means read it because it is quite a lovely story. The two protagonists go through many transitions and growth since the first time they are introduced, which I enjoyed immensely, and their relationship is also very sweet without being overwhelming. You also get a nice look at what 17th century England looked and felt like at the time.
Would I have liked this to be more about piracy? Well, yes, but it never truly felt like a problem to me as the narrative was very engaging and focused on other side stories as well. Besides, this was an introductory story, so I hadn’t expect that much of it.
Being a sucker for historicals and romance, I recommend this one. As for hardcore pirate fans… Well, maybe try something else.
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Thank you so much for reading and until next time!
What did you think of this review? Have you read Blackhearts? （⋆＾－＾⋆）