Readathons Reviews

Review: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman [ScallyWagAThon #2]

Anne has lived a rough life, the daughter of a slave stolen from the West Indies and a white man. Though her father was never cruel to her or her mother, she is still not left with anything upon his death. Her half-brother, determined to be rid of her, finds her employment in a household where her job is always at risk. And of course, when the master’s son returns from a year at sea and makes Anne’s life more difficult… Well, enchanting as the young Edward may be Anne isn’t ready to give up her dreams of stealing away on a ship bound towards the West Indies just yet. She wants to return to her mother’s homeland, see the people her mother knew, and be free of the world of service and nobility. Edward, for his part, is in love with the sea and not with his vapid fiance whose noble title is all his father cares about. Anne throws a wrench in his plans, as well.


What is Blackhearts about?

Blackhearts is about Anne and Edward Teach, how they meet and how they fall for one another. It’s a little bit about Edward’s love of the sea and struggle with his father’s social climbing expectations. It’s a little more about Anne and her struggle with being lower class because of the circumstances of her birth, and how she feels eternally like an outsider because of the color of her skin. Ultimately, it’s about the romance that develops between Anne and Edward and functions as a romanticized origin story for Blackbeard.

Genre: Historical Romance

Whatever else this novel purports to be, it is a historical romance through and through. The tropes, the writing style, even the way the perspectives of each half of the love story are written fall directly in line with historical romance.

Tropes: The Noble and the Commoner

The major conflict for their romance is that Edward is relatively high in society–not yet a noble, but about to marry for a title–and Anne is a maid in his father’s household when they meet. Anne is acutely aware of her social status at all times in part due to her skin color, whereas Edward has grown up with just enough money and privilege to forget sometimes the roles others must live with.

Plot: Anne and Edward are both idiots suited for each other

My god. Anne and Edward are both so good a making dumb mistakes. They both underestimate everyone else around them and then are shocked that their plans fall through. Neither of them thinks more than a few steps ahead, and they’re both oblivious of the consequences they might face if they fail.

The Good

I do like that Anne is constantly conscious of and reminding others of the fact that she feels isolated from society. Though she is also certainly described as beautiful, she regularly reminds herself and others that her skin color makes it hard to hide who her mother was (not that she wants to). Though her father seems to have had some kindness in his heart for her, he definitely didn’t set her up for a lot of success and others constantly remind her of that. Still, her determination and attitude are fun to read.

The Okay

The love story was kind of half-baked. It’s very much based on a sense of sexual tension, but there’s not a firm transition from that tension to actual basis for love. Edward and Anne have very similar end-goals and their lives should easily line up with one another, but they never actually fill in the blanks between being at odds with one another and discovering they want the same things out of life. Edward’s attraction to Anne just kind of carries them from point A to point D.

The Bad

I don’t think this book needed to be as complex as the author made it, and I certainly don’t think it warrants another book. I don’t now how many books are in the series, but I have zero plans to read the rest of them. As a stand alone, this is decent. It’s taking a lot of liberties with history–Edward Teach was a real person after all–but it’s an interesting and cute little story. The romance should have been more fleshed out as the focus of the story, for sure. I also think most of the conflict was too rushed through in order to squeeze even more plot in there. Anne goes from maid, to ward, to outcast far too quickly. Edward’s engagement is ended far too quickly. Every single scene of direct conflict occurs too quickly. The author should have either written a longer novel, or accepted that half of the story they were telling didn’t fit and focused on the parts that did work.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a historical romance that happens to serve as an “origin” story for Blackbeard, then this is the book for you. Anne and Edward very much fall into a lot of the tropes of a historical romance, and much of the conflict is suited to that genre. If you want some swashbuckling action, you’re going to be disappointed. This book has nothing to do with piracy and in fact it’s very easy to forget that Edward Teach is meant to be Blackbeard later on. I also don’t understand why this isn’t a stand alone novel. I have no curiosity about what happens next, because this would make most sense as an ending to Anne and Edward’s story. We’re given some fun little details, such as Edward calling Anne “Queen Anne” which heralds to his ship name. We get the first mention of calling him “Teach” and calling him “Blackbeard.” There’s not a whole lot of need to continue the story about Edward Teach as he’s written here; we can imagine how the ending and his separation from Anne led him to where we know he headed as a historical pirate.

By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s