Feb 4, 2016

Before Blackbeard became a pirate || Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Title : Blackhearts
Author : Nicole Castroman
Release Date : February 9th 2016
Publisher : Simon Pulse

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 CuraƧao—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.

An ARC was provided by Simon Teen via Edelweiss in exchange of a honest review

Blackhearts was a book that I was dying to read ever since I heard about it in twitter. The world knows that I love villains to death, and Blackbeard is one of those classic villains I've always admired, so when I heard we're getting a YA rendition of his backstory, I was immediately hooked, and was unbelievably excited when I got a chance to read the book!

Edward Drummond, nicknamed 'Teach', seeks adventure. Son of a merchant, and back from a year in sea, he wants an escape from his father's attempts to marry him into aristocracy so he could gain a title, he falls in love with a maid - Anne - who herself wants to run away from the judgemental and prejudiced England society. Their love is doomed from the beginning, and Blackhearts sets the back story of how Edward Teach became Blackbeard, from a wealthy heir to a notorious pirate.

Before I start with my review, I want to make something clear. Blackhearts isn't a pirate story. It is not the story about the deterioration of a good man or the start of a villain's nefarious journey. If you read this book expecting these elements, you'll probably be disappointed. If you ask me, Blackhearts isn't the book it was widely promoted to be. Blackhearts was different. But it was also glorious. Disappointing it might be for a reader who dive into the book expecting pirates, but, what it delivers in the end, is glorious and amazing in its own.

So what was the book if not a story of a villain and pirates? Blackhearts was a love story. A beautiful love story between two brave, passionate and wonderful characters. An unconventional love story between a merchant's son and an illegitimate daughter of a merchant and a slave, born of mixed heritage. A tragic love story of two individuals whose lives are controlled, limited, judged and wronged by the society and its prejudices. It was a story which kept me hooked, a story which- for the first time in my life - disregard the lack of nefariousness of a villain's backstory, but made me feel deeply for his fate.

What good is a promise to someone else when my heart belongs to you? What good is a promise when I might not live to see another day?

One of the best things about Blackhearts are the characters. This book is a character driven story, and the MCs, along with the few minor characters, had a lot of depth and went through quite a lot of character development. Teach was your typical misunderstood, charming, wealthy heir, but reading his story through his own voice - this book had a dual POV - made him more special than our regular historical fiction heroes, and made the reader relate and sympathize with his situation more.

Though Blackhearts was the story about Teach, to me, the book's true hero is Anne. She is so fierce, brave, head strong, compassionate and strong willed, and I loved her to pieces! She's certainly a new addition to my favourite female characters' list, and her story is one which earned her my admiration from the start. Another beautiful thing about Anne is that she was of mixed heritage. Her father is English while her mother was a slave from the West Indies. With a darker shade of skin tone and blue eyes, she stands out in the society, and the majority of her story deals with how she copes with the prejudice, sexism and racism that's thrown at her as a result of this. To be honest, this aspect was one of my favourite parts of the story, as it also becomes the main obstacle for Anne and Teach's doomed love.

People will forever look at me and see our differences, not our similarities.

Speaking of, the romance. As I mentioned before, this book presents a beautiful love story,and the chemistry between Anne and Teach was wonderful. It was a slow burn, and I loved the slow and steady pace of their relationship. I adored how Anne wasn't immediately attracted to Teach or spend ages describing his physical appearance. And how Teach wasn't bothered about her heritage at all, from the beginning, even before he fell for her. They had a good companionship before it developed into a romance, and I loved that!

Whether you acknowledge it or not, Anne, we belong together. We could be opposite sides of the world, but you would still be mine, as I am yours.

One thing I am sure will bother a lot of readers is the lack of action. This book is more about Blackbeard's backstory, and the reason he became who he was, instead of his adventures. Blackhearts just sets the starting point, it's up to the reader to ponder on the rest. I know that some might also complain about the ending, calling it abrupt. But to me, it's perfect! Blackbeard is supposed to be a villain, so there's no point in giving him a happy ending. And I also don't mind the lack of action, because that is not the point of the story at all.

Blackhearts leaves the ending open. There's no sign for a sequel, and I like it that way. It is definitely an ending that will leave you dumbstruck, especially with the intense and powerful last 10% of the book, leading up to the climax. As a huge lover of cliffhangers and open endings, I love the impact it left on me and will leave on all readers.

Overall, I'll recommend Blackhearts wholeheartedly. I'd just like to point out again that there would be no pirates, no action and no nefariousness. Instead it is a story which delivers what it was meant to deliver, and in a beautiful and satisfying way. It will make you feel, break you heart, and give you a new perspective of Blackbeard, the pirate.

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