Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: February 9
Genre: young adult, historical fiction, romance
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.
Before he was Blackbeard the pirate, Edward “Teach” Drummond was a young sailor whose father, a wealthy Bristol merchant, wanted nothing more than a claim to the aristocracy. Teach is determined to defy his father and set sail again, but a run-in with a maid in the house, Anne, compels him to stay. When it becomes apparent she would love nothing more than to sail away from England as well, their circumstances become even more complicated.
As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but feel this was a mash-up of BBC’s Poldark and Amma Asante’s Belle. Good things to compare it to, I promise. Teach’s temperament is very much like Poldark’s (plus, sailor. And tricorn hats. Swoon), and Anne’s complex social hierarchy, with her race and her inheritance, mirrors Dido’s. Toss in the Blackbeard element — that this is an origin story, as very little is known about Blackbeard’s life prior to his final years at sea — and you’re in for a PBS special in book form: slow-burning, rich, and complex.
I want to gush about my favorite part of the book, but I can’t because it’s the ending. It’s satisfyingly unsatisfying; it leaves the reader hanging on such a pivotal movement that you can’t help but wonder what happens between that scene and Blackbeard’s appearance in historical documentation.
And while this story is very much about Teach, it’s also an interesting story about Anne. Everything she represents. Historically, women do not have a voice. We know nothing about them, except the daily activities the educated women mentioned in their journals or letters (if they’re surviving). That’s such a slim margin of women in history, too. Toss in the fact Anne is mixed race in a time when everyone who was non-white was considered beyond inferior (I know we’re still struggling with race today, but bear with me), that anyone bearing a resemblance to Anne was typically a slave — and we’re really beginning to touch upon the lost voices in history. Anne represents those lost voices, and Anne represents mixed races and cultures today.
This book is for the historical romance reader. While it’s not particularly covering a momentous time in history, the heart of the story lies in the everyday trials of a young man struggling for independence, and a young woman seeking a sense of belonging, and how these two individuals found each other.
(And, of course, PIRATES.)
This fulfills book 2 of 10 library books in 2016.