Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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."
It's the late 1600s in England and Anne is the daughter of a wealthy businessman and a West Indies slave, so she has trouble fitting into society. After some hardship, she finds herself as a servant in the Drummond household. With her father deceased, she has no one to advocate for her and she has come across some hard times. After a chance meeting, she encounters Mr. Drummond's son, Edward (also known as "Teach"), and they do not hit it off. Edward has his own problems, too. He has just arrived home after sailing for a year and his father has had enough of his carefree antics. He wants him to help take over the family business and also marry his betrothed. That's all well and good, but Edward has no interest in either. He wants to set sail again as soon as possible. Anne wants to escape as well; she has been secretly saving and stealing in order to gain enough money to board a ship, which will take her to the West Indies. These two have nothing in common and have made a really bad first impression on each other, but as they spend more time together sparks fly. Nicole Castroman's debut, Blackhearts, is a historical romance at its core set in a world filled with archaic societal rules and of course, the promise of boarding a ship to get away from it all.
I'm not going to lie, I wasn't too interested in either character when I first encountered both Anne and Edward in Blackhearts. Castroman jumps between Anne and Edward's point of view in the novel and I found both characters to be disagreeable at times. Anne is stubborn and she doesn't know when to keep quiet. Despite the fact that she is a servant in a household, I found her to be really flippant at times. I get that she feels she is "better" than a servant, but her mouth got her into some bad situations. I found Edward to be more of the same. I wasn't sure if I should be swooning over him or slapping him across the face. He was brash and said things that I didn't like; so these two had a lot in common in that sense. Once I got past their abrasive personalities, I was able to enjoy this historical romance. Which leads me to pirates...where are they?
I was under the impression Blackhearts had some pirates in it. I was wrong. This is more of a romance than a pirate adventure, but towards the end of the novel, things do pick up in that sense. Blackhearts is more about the infamous Blackbeard's rise to adulthood and his upbringing. Essentially, he doesn't want the cookie-cutter life that his father has laid out for him; he wants more, which includes the open ocean and Anne. So although I found the lack of pirates and a swashbuckling adventure to be a disappointment, Castroman does set readers up for more adventure at the end of the novel and I'd be interested in seeing where it goes. As of now, it is a standalone novel though.
I recommend Blackhearts to fans of historical fiction, especially if you like an unlikely romance. But if you want a pirate tale, look elsewhere.