Summary: 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. This is their story.
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.
Author: Nicole Castroman
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: 9th of February 2016
Rating: 5 stars
Thank-you to Simon Pulse for sending me a review copy!
"Teach was more determined than ever to set sail once more."
First of all, I want to say that this is a PRE-PIRATE novel. There are no sword fights, no ships getting blown up or anything like that. If you race into this book thinking PIRAAAAAAAAATES! You will be sorely disappointed. This is an origin story, and it's a darn awesome origin story.
This was THE 2016 debut book that I wanted to read. The cover itself sparked the idea of the Fledgling Authors Chat, after all. And Nicole is such a great friend of mine now. *Smushes her with love.* So... YES. I was very, VERY excited to read this baby. I am a massive fan of the Blackbeard legend and stories, so I immediately jumped at this story, and Nicole did NOT disappoint. Castroman's writing is sublime and her storytelling abilities are completely outstanding. I was expecting an amazing book already, but nothing of this caliber. I devoured this book in a single sitting, that's how much I adored it. Nicole paints a stunning picture of Bristol in the late 17th century in her own unique style.
Edward "Teach" Drummond is an absolute babe. It has to be said. (Um... he looks like Aidan Turner for one thing?! Hellllllo there?!) Nicole expertly crafts a character that is both brand-new yet hauntingly familiar. For those that are familiar with Blackbeard's stories, you will recognize bits and pieces that Nicole has snuck in. Which is utterly fantastic! I can very easily see BLACKHEARTS as Blackbeard's true origin story. Everything fit perfectly and as we delve deeper into the book, more and more Blackbeard-y characteristics come into play. Subtle ones, but we all can recognize them for what they'll one day turn into. My heart shattered from the get-go, really. And the ending just trampled me under a herd of elephants. Teach is such a likable character that you soon grow to love and cheer for. Knowing what will happen to him in the future (and what he will become) is TORTURE. This book is a whole new ballgame of pain and feels. When I first began the book, I had a theory about how the book might end. It was a REALLY sad theory, one that tied into the genuine Blackbeard legend. Did it come to pass or not? How sad was it? You'll have to wait until January to find out.
Anne, Teach's love interest, appealed to me immediately with her feisty nature and no-nonsense attitude. Also, yay for diversity! An extremely strong(willed) character that is the perfect match for Teach. They are the very definition of adorable. Though I do wish there was a little more romance in the book! There's a very healthy amount in there, but my romantic heart just craved more. I would love to tell you all more about Anne and how awesome she is, but alas, spoilers! Those horrible, dreadful little things...
Swoon-worthy romance, an unmissable intricate plot and characters that worm their way into your heart, this debut is not one to be missed. I am anxiously awaiting more books about Teach told in Nicole's fantastic style. Or more books from her in general! If you're going to read this book (duh, of course you are!) and you don't know the Blackbeard legend already, I highly recommend reading up about this notorious pirate beforehand. Of course, you don't have to, but knowing about him before cracking open the book makes BLACKHEARTS even more awesome. Trust me.
So. Five fat black hearts for BLACKHEARTS! (Okay, they're not black, but y'know what I mean.)