Review: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Author: Nicole Castroman
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Format/Source: eARC/From publisher, via 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. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)
*Warning: While I really don’t like spoilers, I really felt like some things needed to be said, so there are some slight spoilers in this review. They have been marked accordingly.*
Sooooooo… I was pretty disappointed with this book. I guess mostly because I expected it to be more about pirates and less about love. Which, honestly, I should have realized my expectations were wrong because of that synopsis, but I think I was just saw “Blackbeard the pirate as a young man” and latched onto that.
If you’ve read more than a couple of my reviews you know that I do have book boyfriends (not many) and ships and OTPs but I need more than a romance in a book. Some people, including many of my friends and blogger friends, need romance, and LOVE when a book is all about the romance. And that’s great! But it’s just not my thing. So unfortunately, Blackhearts wasn’t really my thing, because it’s totally a romance story. There are no pirates (with the exception of a story that Anne reads to Teach, so we get told about the pirates, not shown), and while there is some interesting action near the end, there just wasn’t enough non-romance plot for me. And there were also some other things that I really didn’t love about this book.
The plot seemed to drag quite a bit, especially at the beginning. And, I hate to say it, but I just really didn’t like Teach very much. He’s supposed to be this great love interest but he still treated Anne like property. He loved her, yes, but he treated her like property. And I don’t CARE that this is set back in the times when women were property–I’m never going to like a guy who treats his love interest like property, no matter what the time setting. That’s one aspect to me, that frankly, shouldn’t be realistic. Love interests should have flaws, yes, but treating their significant other like an object just shouldn’t be one of them if you want me to actually LIKE them.
Also, I know that Teach and Anne didn’t like each other at first, but Teach went from hating her to loving her within the span of a few days, so that’s still kind of insta-lovey to me. Yes, insta-love happens in real life, but it’s one of those things I’m tired of seeing in YA books. Teach also enjoys making Anne mad. I LOVE banter between love interests but it needs to be banter on both sides. Not teasing from one person that makes the other person angry.
And there’s one part that really bothered me. This also deals with the way Teach treated Anne. Now, this part might be considered a bit spoilery, simply because I’m going into a bit of detail about a scene, so consider yourself warned. On one occasion, Teach gives the other maids the day off and also gives them some money. He tells them to go to town to buy something for themselves. Then he tells Anne that she and he are going riding. Anne says she’d rather spend the day by herself, since he’s given her the day off. And he basically says that she can’t because the other maids have already left and so now she has to spend the day with him. Huh? She can’t spend the day ALONE? Then she says that she could catch up with the other maids and he gets angry. He says he’s not forcing her to go with him, but he really is. She continues to say that she doesn’t want to go riding with him, and he says he’ll give her more money after they go riding. So not only will he not take no for an answer, even though she has said SEVERAL TIMES that she doesn’t want to go riding with him, but now he’s bribing her? And guess what happens? She goes with him. And then it seems like she’s justifying it all after that, saying that if she hadn’t gone with him then it would have just been the two of them in the house. Well, I’m sorry but it’s not like they had to be in the same room all the time. And she also could have gone to the city LIKE SHE WANTED TO. UGH. This is just another one of the reasons I didn’t like Teach. Possessive and controlling are not traits I like in a love interest. (Note: I read the ARC so this scene, along with other things in the rest of the book, could have been changed in the final copy.)
And there were some other things I really didn’t find realistic. For example, Anne is of mixed race, and we are told that in the past she was treated poorly, and then she’s treated poorly by a wealthier girl, but we’re to believe that it’s more out of jealousy than being discriminated against because of her race. There are some other instances of racial prejudice that are thrown in but they are small and it just seems like she should have been experiencing racial prejudice left and right. The people who didn’t treat her badly should have been few and far between, rather than how it is in the book, with her only barely being discriminated against.
At one point while reading, I had a certain theory and it made me very excited to finish the book. But it didn’t turn out to be correct, so I was disappointed, even though it was kind of a long shot for that theory to be correct. There were a couple of nice twists at the end, but then the end was kind of a cliffhanger, and as far as I know, a sequel isn’t yet planned. So I think the end was a bit off.
My rating for Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman:
2 stars. I’m not a big fan of books that focus just on romance, but even if I was, I would have still had issues with this book. But I know there were plenty of people who loved it, so if this sounds appealing to you, check out the other reviews I’ve listed below–they really enjoyed Blackhearts.
Kate Midnight Book GirlFebruary 5, 2016 at 12:29 pm
I normally don't mind romance, in fact this month I'm all about the romance, but this does not sound like a good fit for me. I am stumped that a book that has the hero pretty much treating the heroine as property (which again, I could handle to a certain degree because of era), but I find that at odds with her being mixed race in a society that was NOT accepting at the time. It boggles my mind that it's only an occasional problem for her.
Also, I'd probably rather read about murderous Bluebeard than Blackbeard falling in love. :)
Micheline DFebruary 5, 2016 at 5:10 pm
I'm completely like you Andrea: I do have my ships, but I don't NEED romance. I 100% need more than romance to love a story so I think I'd feel the same about this one as you did. And from the reviews I've read so far, A LOT of people complained that there wasn't enough Pirates/Swashbuckling and too much romance. So as much as I wanted to read this one, I don't think I will now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here^^ ♥