Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Review copy from Edelweiss
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.
OH MY OH MY OH MY!!! This one was AMAZING!
I was not quite sure what to expect from Blackhearts. The tale of Blackbeard is not very familiar to me, but I did obviously know it involved pirates. Since I am not a big pirate fan (gasp! I know... there are people like that out here as well), I was kind of skeptical about this one. There is one pirate I love - obviously Hook from OUAT - but in general pirates make me think of The Pirates of the Caribbean films, only like one of the crappiest film franchise I have been forced to watch (I fell asleep in the cinema while watching the third film). So yeah, my mindset going to this book was kind of mixed - at the same time I was excited and scared that the whole pirate thing would not keep me interested enough.
If you are looking for a page turning pirate story, you might be disappointed. I think I had read about 60% of the eARC when piracy was even mentioned the first time. Like the description says, this is the "origin story" of Blackbeard, a tale of a time when he was just Edward Drummond, to his friends Teach, a young man living in Bristol.
The events of the novel kick into full force when Teach returns from the sea back to Bristol. He is set to marry a daughter of a baron and forget his seafaring days. He meets Anne Barnett, a mixed-race daughter of an Englishman and a woman from West Indies, under circumstances that definitely makes it difficult for him to forget her. When they roads cross again and again in the Drummond house, they feel a pull for each other and despite their circumstances and their society, they cannot stay away from each others' lives.
Blackhearts is in heart a romantic historical novel. And like historical novel, it is quite slow-burning and surprisingly detailed despite the fact that is is not that big of a book. The relationship between Anne and Teach, both amazing and engaging characters in their own right, is extremely well and deliciously executed. As someone who despises instalove, I loved the slow-burning building of friendship and trust and eventually love between Anne and Teach. Though they come from different places, and Teach obviously has a higher role in the eyes of the society as a man as someone with white skin, they both feel like they are imprisoned and wish to escape their realities for an unknown life that could possibly be better than what they have now.
I loved Anne's strength and willpower, as well as her honesty and tendency to say what she thinks rather than what she should. I loved how protective Teach is of Anna, how passionate he can be, and how determined he is to make a life for himself according to his dreams despite his controlling father. The supporting characters, like Teach's father and betrothed, offer interesting side stories to the romance and work as obstacles on Anna and Teach's way to happiness.
The ending of Blackhearts suggests that this is not a standalone, but rather a first book in a series. I am not a big series reader these days, but I am 110% sure that if there is a sequel for this one, I will read it, because I absolutely fell in love with these characters. In addition to awesome characterization, Nicole Castroman's is incredibly talented writer whose prose was able to suck me into the story and made it difficult to let go off until I reached the end. The pacing of the story is incredibly well executed and the historical setting works extremely well.
Blackhearts is a novel filled with incredible characters, beautiful writing and a romance that will definitely make you swoon.