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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.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published February 9, 2016

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About the author

Nicole Castroman

2 books473 followers
Nicole was lucky enough to come with her very own best friend...she has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences for her.

At the age of 13, she went to Europe for the first time and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages and cultures and speaks fluent German. She knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian.

She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria and two different places called Georgia. One is located on the Black Sea. The other is the state of Georgia where she now lives with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
February 10, 2016
“Trapped between the door and his body, she froze. He knew he was using his size to intimidate her, but nothing else seemed to work where she was concerned.”

It's funny how everything remotely marketable as "YA" is these days given a pretty cover, a solid blurb writer, and voila! Truth is, some years ago, I think Blackhearts would have looked like this on the shelves:

It's all romance, no actual historical fiction beyond the racism, sexism and classism floating around. But, more than that, it's just a crappy romance. Teach (later to be known as Blackbeard) enjoys intimidating and stalking Anne Barrett, even after she runs away from his initial sexual advances, until she finally gives in and reciprocates his attentions.

There is absolutely no badassery, pirating and action in this book. The filler parts of the story feature Anne's servitude to Teach's father - lots of descriptions of her making beds, cooking dinner and cleaning rooms, whilst stealing valuable objects to save up for an escape. Everything else is about the romance between the two of them.

As these kind of novels tend to go, Teach is also already engaged to a rich, mean, overtly-sexual woman called Patience. There's real emphasis put on the comparisons between the sweet and innocent Anne, and the evil Patience who repulses Teach with her promises of sexual favours. Teach would much rather have the girl who runs from his advances (ugh).

Anne is a simple beauty, Patience tries too hard. Anne is nice and polite, Patience is fiery and speaks her mind. Anne fights off unwanted attentions, Patience tries to seduce Teach (her promised husband - what a hussy!). This alone was enough for me to dislike Anne, but she then tells Teach that one of her fellow maids likes to kiss the stable boy, knowing it would lead to said maid being called a "harlot".

On top of that, Teach himself is neither likable nor deliciously unlikable. He lacks any of the interesting characteristics we would expect from Blackbeard, instead being portrayed as a romantic hero, but ultimately fails to impress at either when he enjoys intimidating and stalking a maid until she finally gives in. If this had been an adult novel, I'm sure he would have assaulted her until she liked it too.

Give this a miss, unless you enjoy the old Harlequin romances.

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March 18, 2016
Jack Sparrow aside, I'm just not fond of pirates or story about pirates. This book is an imagined prequel to the legend of Blackbeard, and while there's not very much piracy (good), there's not much else in it but a terribly boring YA historical romance with an alpha asshole as the lead.

This book sends a message to readers that sexuality is bad, that women should be innocent and virtuous and just outspoken enough to not push any 1600s boundaries (which is to say, don't push any boundaries at all), and to that, I say "fuck that shit." Sexually loose girls are constantly portrayed as whorish, whereas if the main heroine does it, it's all just fucking dandy.
“What we’ve just done is no different from what Mary did to John.”
“Do not compare my feelings for you to those of that strumpet. Mary never cared for John. He was a lover of convenience. I do not hold out much hope for Tom, either. Give her a week or two, and she’ll have moved on to someone else.”
I love HR, but they have to have several elements to be readable. Sure, the love story must be there, but since it's romance-centric, in order for a book to not be gag-worthy to a cold-hearted *bleep* like me, there has to be spectacular writing, humor, well-written emotional turmoil, and, gosh darn it, passion. I'm not talking about the thrusting, naked fumble in the dark sort, I'm talking about the melding of two hearts, two souls. Yes, reader, I am a romantic at heart.

This book didn't have any of the above. It was a boring, terrible love story with a weak-ass female and a regrettable waste of air, without much swashbuckling at all. Edward "Teach" (how the fuck is that a nickname?) the future Blackbeard, falls for his biracial servant girl. That's it. That's IT.

One of the worst things about the past is the class difference and how the upper classes tend to abuse those who are "beneath" them. This is particularly true (and particularly abominable) when it comes to master-servant relationships. Countless serving girls, maids, governesses, helpless females (and given the era, they truly are helpless), were subject to rape and sexual abuse by the men they serve.
“I could have you punished for what you did,” he said, watching her closely.
She nodded. “Yes, you could.”
“After that, I could have you fired.”
“Yes, you could. But I’d rather you didn’t,” she said.
“And why not?” he growled.
The male protagonist in this story is one of those assholes, and yes, he said those things above.

Usually a historical book involving a "different" heroine will portray how ahead of the time, how progressive, how brave and self-sufficient and strong the main character is. Anne is not a progressive character, she is weak, she is innocent and pure, and all but has a halo around her head. She is portrayed as the "good" girl compared to the book's "slut" character, who is free with her sexual favors.
Although she was a baron’s daughter, when the two of them were alone together, she acted more like a scullery maid, allowing him to do things no lady of noble breeding should agree to.
Because truly noble characters are chaste, right?

Anne is the one who constantly receives - and steadfastly resists - sexual advances. Teach is engaged to a highly sexualized (and villainous) woman named Patience. There is a tremendous effort to portray Patience's sexuality and forwardness as something bad, something wicked, something disgusting compared to the virginal Anne. That is not cool with me. Patience is extremely one-dimensional, being shallow, stupid, completely selfish, without one redeeming quality. Of course, the term "one-dimensional" could similarly be used to describe the rest of the characters in the book.
Profile Image for Ben Alderson.
Author 18 books13.3k followers
February 27, 2017
If I could give this more then 5 stars, I would.

I really loved this story, It was really character driven which I what I wanted. I was rooting for Anne and Teach from the very first chapter, so I am BUZZING with how the story panned out.
I HATED characters ( in a good way, in a way that the author wrote them to be hated ) and i LOVED characters and the setting.


Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews989 followers
March 13, 2016

Actual rating: 1.5

This was one of the most anticipated books of this year for me. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the most disappointing book of the year. Let's look at the title of the book: Blackhearts - a gorgeous title. Now, look at the cover - a gorgeous cover. You know how I think this book should've been titled instead? The black bearded pirate who stalked me or My daddy didn't love me enough or A kleptomaniac Anne. And you know why I think so? To find out let's look into the content of the story. We have a romanticized version of a young Edward Teach aka Blackbeard - the ruthless legendary pirate. In this book we are promised a story of his transformation. Young Edward "Teach" Drummond is suffocating under his father's pressure. He doesn't want the life that is planned for him, he doesn't want a fiancée that is promised to him. All he wants is sea, it's his passion, his freedom. I imagined Teach as someone like this:

What I got:

The second MC - Anne, a 16 years-old daughter of a wealthy merchant and a slave from the West Indies. She is an orphan. Her life in England is hard due to her heritage, and she has no choice but to work as a maid in Drummond's household. There our star-crossed lovers meet and their epic love snot story begins.

I was expecting dashing pirates and masterly fights and action - any action really. I was even more than ok with the romance part. I guess I imagined something like The princess bride, but the romance turned out to be worse than anything an average historical romance can offer. What romance, what passion - there's more chemistry between a cat and a mouse than between Anne and Teach.

There was this kissing scene and logically it should've been passionate, but I felt nothing. Nada. Zero. My friend calls it a novocaine effect - it's like I am under the influence of painkillers and can't feel a thing. And it's not just the romance, which is absolutely unbelievable and appeared out of the thin air in the second half of the book. Characters knew each other only for a few days and Teach already salivates over beautiful snow flake Anne and how she makes him feel. He stalks her, tries to grab her, if she is not in the vicinity, all he thinks about is stalkering and grabbing her.

“So, Anne, you thought you got the better of me,” he said softly, enjoying the look of fear on her face. She reminded him of a rabbit caught in a snare.

“I don’t care what Margery or my father thinks. I’ve been looking for you. Now stand still. I’m getting tired of this constant cat and mouse,” he said.
“Well, I’m tired of being chased,” she snapped, forced to tip her head back and look up at him.

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

Pff, dude, you know this chit for a little longer than a week and already you are deeply in lurve with her! Insta love-ish much?

And romance is not even my main complaint about the book. It's the characters. They are vain, hypocritical asses. Anne and Teach are both special snow-flakes, around them only terrible people keeping them apart, conspiring against their dreams and wishes *gasp* How could they do that to our sweethearts, they are so special, you can't treat them like a common folk! You still do not get the whole scope of Anne's and Teach's specialness? Okey-dokey then, let's see: Teach's father is a tyrant, he doesn't allow his son to choose his own path; Teach's best friend is a lying scum of a person who secretly fucked Teach's fiancée, impregnated her and accused Teach of piracy; his fiancée is a brainless harlot (god forbid you to compare her with Saint Anne); a butcher in the market is a dirty bastard who wants to grope Anne with his meaty hands; a cook in Drummond's household is a crone who hates poor orphan Anne for no reason at all; a maid who has a fiancé, also is a whore who wants to fuck Teach and tumbles in hay with a stable boy on a regular bases. Oh, and I forgot to mention Anne's half brother who is also a scumbag! No one is decent enough to be worthy of Teach and Anne. Please, someone build them a monument!

Anne steals from Drummond, but she has a noble cause, and no one dares to call her a lying stealing bitch:

“The only reason I took anything was because I was treated unfairly here and I wanted to escape. I took nothing more than you owed me. Or my father.”

But when someone else is not as pristine as our self-righteous Anne, she points a finger at this person without a second thought:
“You’ve confessed to being a liar and a thief. Why should I believe you, sir?”

Oh, and Anne is above every maid and cook in the household, because she is an educated dove and can read:
Anne often wondered what they would say if they knew she was the daughter of another wealthy merchant. It was obvious Anne was educated, whereas the two maids were not, just one more thing that set Anne apart from them.

All Anne loves is Anne, all Anne wants is Anne. She doesn't need Teach or any friends, just let her go and she'll forget you ever existed.

Teach is no better. He has a fiancée. He enjoyed having fun with her, because she allowed some liberties. He was okay with marrying her. HE LIKED HER! Now, she is not worthy of his attention, she is too frivolous, she is too stupid, she is lesser than perfect Anne:

Patience was another matter. Teach noticed the frown on his betrothed’s lips, a sure sign of her unease. He was quite certain it had more to do with Anne’s beauty than with her suitability as a maid, or her race. Patience did not take well to competition, especially in the form of a house servant.

Of course, a lady would be jealous of a house maid!

Patience is a harlot and makes advances on Teach, and poor lad can't stand the chick. *checks the watch* though five minutes ago he was okay with her advances and welcomed them.

“If you’d like, we could stay out here and discuss Paradise Lost. William said it’s all about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Since we were so rudely interrupted before, we could make this little spot our very own Eden.”
Anne did not imagine the shudder that ran through Teach. He took Miss Patience’s wrist and removed it from his shoulder.

He is so disgusted that he even throws up on poor Patience's dress. He compares the girls constantly and guess who is the winner:
He had known Patience for several years now, and he was quite comfortable with her. She was like a well-worn shoe.
Teach cringed, imagining Patience’s reaction to that description.
Anne was different. She intrigued him, for not only was she familiar with John Milton, but she claimed to know how to ride a horse. Patience had already proven she’d never heard of the poet, and the closest she ever got to a horse was when she stepped in and out of a carriage.

1:0 in Anne's favor!!!

But Nastassja, how can you judge the poor misunderstood lad, whose father doesn't love him?! Daddy issues are a serious case! Aye, but how can I respect a person when all he does is whine about his daddy being an old unfeeling oak, who doesn't want to see Teach for a man he is *laughs* Grow a pair, lad, and stand up for yourself already!

He’s never cared about my thoughts or my dreams. It’s always been about him and what he wants.”

Blah, blah, blah *yawns*

The characters in this book lack any depths, they are made of cardboard. I can't even imagine how they look, though we have a description of their appearances, but it's just a sketch of a thousand similar faces: nothing distinguished about them, no soul to remember them by. I can also fault the language on it. The writing is stiff, undescriptive, impersonal. Supposedly we have a story, but the story lacks soul and no amount of events or romance could safe the stiff writing. It's like being in a middle of a desert with no water for miles: just sand and suffocating heat.

The ending is as senseless as the whole book was. I don't understand why we have an open ending? As far as everyone aware this book is a stand-alone, but we don't get a satisfactory conclusion, we don't even have enough to call it an open ending, because the book just abruptly ends in the middle of an act. What the hell?! Am I suppose to tremble and gasp from the last lines of the story? I am trembling and gasping with outrage. I don't want any sequels and continuations of that dreadful story, but I fear there might be one or two *sigh* Don't read this book, don't waste your time, you won't find here dashing pirates or epic love - you'll be standing in the middle of the desert begging for water, but no one will give you any...

Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,258 reviews8,705 followers
March 15, 2017
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

DNF at 33%.

Two words: half-fantasy.

But this time, it was even worse than the usual disappointment that comes from a "fantasy" sans magic, b/c at 33%, it was also a story marketed as being about pirates, WITHOUT ANY PIRATES.

Oh, you could see where it was going, but it would've been more truthful to call this one a fictionalized account of the events that led to Blackbeard becoming Blackbeard.

Bad form.

Jessica Signature
Profile Image for Mikee (ReadWithMikee).
203 reviews1,280 followers
February 21, 2016
When I added this book to my TBR, I was expecting adventures and pirates. Unfortunately we got neither.

Instead, all we got in Blackhearts was romance, romance, and more romance. If there weren't going to be any ships, pirates, or adventures, I at least wanted a Blackbeard origin story but I don't think I could even consider this book even that. This book shouldn't even really be associated with Blackbeard because if we weren't told that this would be a Blackbeard origin story, you wouldn't even have known that this would be about the infamous pirate because this whole book was pretty much, I kid you not, just a romance between Anne and Teach, being tired of being told what to do, wanting to escape, blah blah blah.

I don't mind romance in books, in fact, I welcome it because I want at least a little bit of romance in every book I read to keep things interesting. But I did not expect that the relationship between Anne and Teach would be the backbone of this whole story. Blackbeard is supposed to be one of the most notorious pirates in the history of PIRATES, but this book made his whole life out to be this typical, sappy love story that you read about it every other book with characters of different names. Just... No.

I wouldn't be so disappointed in the romance if I actually bought into their relationship but I just couldn't get into it. I loved Teach but Anne was just annoying. Normally, I'd appreciate outspoken heroines who wouldn't let people walk all over them but with Anne, it really just came off as obnoxious.

On top of that, I was able to predict everything that happened. From William, to Patience... Everything. It really is a shame. Blackhearts had so much potential. You could've had PIRATES. You could've had ADVENTURE. You could've had a WILL TURNER and ELIZABETH SWANN type of relationship, which I might add, would've been 100 times more interesting than Teach and Anne's relationship. But... Nothing. It all just fell flat for me. If anything, the story I was actually waiting for occurs in the end but for another reason than to chase after a woman.

Blackhearts was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016 and it drives me crazy that I ended up being really disappointed. :/
Profile Image for Sophie.
1,179 reviews437 followers
February 7, 2016
I received an Advance Reader Copy via Edelweiss. This in no way impacted on my view.

I have been dying for this book ever since I first heard about it. Never before that I known that an origin story about the notorious pirate Blackbeard, but here we are. I preordered this book, along with quite a few others, and decided to wait as patiently as I could for my copy to arrive. I've never had any luck with Edelweiss, though I still request books from time to time. When I checked the site just before Christmas, I was so surprised that there was actually a tick next to Blackhearts, rather than a cross like normal. Thank you so much, Simon Pulse, for approving me!!

Blackhearts, like I've said, is an origin story about the man behind the Blackbeard myth, Edward Teach. In the book, he is a member of a privileged merchant class family, Edward Drummond, nicknamed 'Teach'. Returning from a year abroad aboard a merchant vessel, he is due to be married, and knows in his heart that he doesn't want the marriage, and would rather live in the ship for the rest of his days. He meets a maid in his house, Anne, and slowly starts to fall for her. Anne, due to her mixed heritage, knows her presence in the house is the subject of ridicule. She wants nothing more than to flee England, and travel to Curaçao, the birthplace of her mother. With the launching of Drummond's new ship, the Deliverance, coming up, she's planning to stow away, whatever the cost.

I loved how the story was told in dual PoV. Both Anne and Teach were so interesting, and so unique, that it was definitely necessary for both. Anne was definitely my favourite, but I had a soft spot for Teach. Anyone who has studied any time in history should understand how the attitudes towards the slaves, children of slaves, etc., were at this time. For Anne, who had quite a privileged upbringing, to be thrust into servitude was such a shock. After dealing with the shock of losing her father, and then her mother, she can't cope with impending future. I loved how feisty she was, and how set she was with her plan. She understood what it was to be a female servant at that time, and wasn't about to take anyone's shit.

Teach, though not as interesting as Anne, definitely had his qualities about himself. He knew his life was all set out for him, and fought as hard as he could against that life. His father allowed him to go on his year long journey in order to 'get it out of his system', but rather, it made him yearn for it more. So far, it was the only time nothing had been planned for him, and he could have some kind of freedom. As he spends time with his fiancée again, he realises how uninteresting she was, and that they had absolutely nothing in common. I hated Patience, and I reckon I won't be alone in that thought.

The romance was such a slow burn, that it hurt. I swooned whenever they spent time together, and I feel like it felt right, how it was carried out. For that time period, such a relationship would have been utterly frowned upon, and they both understood this. Still, they knew they were right for each other, and had very similar tastes. Their whole relationship was beautiful, and I can't have asked for more!

The only problem I had with the book, once which I know a lot of other people have had, was the abruptness of the ending. At the current moment, the book is slated to be a standalone book, and that ending was rather like a cliffhanger between books in a series. There are ways to leave a book open ended, somewhat ambiguous, but this was nothing like that. It was just finished, with so much left unanswered, and with a ton of new issues and questions thrust at us in the final pages. I'm praying beyond all hope that a sequel will be announced, and written, but that's not in the cards right now. Nonetheless, I hope it doesn't put you off reading, as everything else was utter perfection. I'm so happy I've read this book, and can't wait for my hard copy to arrive to look at the beautifulness of it! I'd definitely recommend you read it!
Profile Image for Jaime (Two Chicks on Books).
825 reviews400 followers
January 1, 2016
Omg I freaking LOVED this book! There has to be more. Simon Teen you BETTER pick up the sequel!!!!

I am quite obsessed with Pirates. Hell Black Sails on Starz is one of my favorite shows! But what Nicole Castroman has done here is completely brilliant! She took one of the most notorious bloodthirsty, violent pirates (and also one who very little is known about in real life) and turned him into someone with a past, a backstory, a heart and I fell hard for "Teach". He was compassionate and kind and loving but he did have quite the temper when his loved ones were hurting or an innocent was being harmed and I loved that about him. And he was sexy as hell lol

I also loved the other MC, Anne. She was a pistol with a quick wit and a pail (trust me you'll see when you read the book!) she had had a good upbringing but fell on hard times. But she didn't let that bring her down instead it made her stronger. And the chemistry between her and Teach was freaking intense! I loved how their story wasn't insta-love either but it grew with time and mutual respect for one another.

I could go on forever about this book but I don't want to spoil it for you so make sure you buy this book when it comes out in February and read it right away. You will not be dissappointed!
Profile Image for Lucia.
733 reviews805 followers
January 14, 2016

How to start my review? Blackhearts is YA historical novel set in 17th century England and while writing wasn't outstanding, story itself kept me hooked. I have a lot to say about Blackhearts - a good and a bad. Let's get to the bottom of it.


Both main protagonists are unhappy with their current life situation. Anne is illegal child of dead merchant, was forced to work as maid in unpleasant environment and dreams of finding her extended family in West Indies. Edward "Teach" is heir to huge merchant business but he dreams of sea adventures on a ship instead of forced marriage and boring businesses that are his reality. Sadly, I didn't feel connected to neither of these characters and even though I was interested enough to finish Anne's and Edward's story, I didn't particularly care about them. They were both super judgmental, single-minded and there wasn't much depth to their characterization. Blackhearts is an example of a book in which author tells us instead of showing us how characters feel and I wasn't impressed by it.


I have to admit that I was disappointed that there was no action or adventure in this novel at all. Blackhearts is ordinary romance story set in 17th century England. I feel like I was misled by the synopsis which gives me adventurous vibe. I am probably the only one feeling this way and whoever wrote the synopsis maybe didn't even mean it to sound as adventurous book. But that was an impression I got from the blurb and I couldn't help but be disappointed by the lack of action.

Moreover, I went into this book as a standalone so I was very surprised by the non-ending. Blackhearts either has the lamest open-ending ever or author and publishers forgot to mention that it is going to be a series... Again, I was disappointed, felt misled and it affected my opinion about this book. Generally, I have nothing against whatever kind of cliffhangers. But I hate going into book thinking it's a standalone only to find out at the end that it is not.


Romance in Blackhearts wasn't a slow burn per se since it happened within couple of weeks. But what started as animosity between Anne and Edward, gradually turned into something different. Emphasis on gradually. I liked that very much about this book.


Heroine of this novel is half English half Indian girl. Such occurrence was a taboo in that particular part of English history. Add the fact that Anne is illegitimate child of rich merchant and a slave and you have perfect premise for serious topics. Racism, interracial relationships, prejudices, physical punishments. Take your pick, author touched all of that in this novel. And the fact that she didn't shy away from these topics and presented them for what they truly were was what appealed to me the most about this book.

All in all, Blackhearts is solid YA romance/drama with interesting historical setting. And even though it isn't a phenomenal novel, it is a good debut and I plan to read sequel (if there is one).

*ARC provided by publisher as an exchange for honest review*

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Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,640 reviews1,232 followers
January 28, 2016
An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts are my own. This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.

I knew next to nothing about Blackbeard when I picked up this novel -- or any other pirates, for that matter -- only what I've picked up in passing and that's pretty much that pirates are bad. :P I did a quick Wikipedia search on Blackbeard, though, and I liked what I found. Neither family issues nor a romance was mentioned in my reading, but it does seem feasible that either or both of these could have been the instigating factor for his life on the high seas. It also seems that the author's depiction of the character is spot-on.

I can't believe I don't remember studying the infamous Blackbeard in school. I mean, we had to have, right, considering he's probably the most notorious pirate in all of history? And the fact that little is known of his story prior to becoming a pirate is all the more intriguing. I love how Castroman has romanticized Blackbeard's origin story in this novel, giving him a father with extremely high expectations and a doomed love story.

Teach, seemingly unlike most of his peers, is honorable and commendable. He is not a lazy layabout who only wishes to experience the finer offerings of high society. His most fervent wish is to live a life on the high seas, away from the responsibilities of a merchant's son and an arranged marriage. That is, until he meets the sharp-tongued and impulsive Anne Barrett.

Anne is the product of an English merchant and a West Indies slave, and although she was raised as the illegitimate daughter of the pair, she was still given most every opportunity her merchant father could afford her. However, with her father's passing, the mother and daughter were cast off and left to fend for themselves, and neither has fared very well. In fact, Anne turns up as a servant in Teach's father's household.

Despite an inauspicious first meeting, there is an obvious connection between Teach and Anne. Anne is unlike the frivolous high society girls Teach is used to, and there is much more to Teach than just being a member of the gentry. But there is much more than just their social stations keeping them apart. Their slow-burn romance appears to be doomed from the start, but it was so lovely to watch as it unfolded.

That ending was…most unwelcome. Things were just getting really good! And there's no hint of a sequel in the works. Trust me, I checked. But with a story this captivating, it's only a matter of time...I hope. o_O I'll be honest, though…I thought this book was going to take place on a ship. Maybe in the next book?

GIF it to me straight:
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,711 reviews704 followers
January 8, 2016
4.5 stars

I didn't know much about Blackbeard except that he was a pirate, so when I saw the synopsis of Blackhearts, I was eager to read it.

Loved Anne and Teach. They're both passionate and have such plans for the future. Even though they seem to be different in the beginning, there are a lot of similarities, and I throughly enjoyed reading things evolve.

It was a bit of a slow burn, but it is ridiculously satisfying. The ending isn't exactly what I wanted, but I was satisfied. All in all, it was an interesting story and I was captivated from the beginning.

**Huge thanks to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Wendy Higgins.
Author 23 books7,947 followers
March 4, 2016
Gah, I'm such a sucker for historically-based romances. So good!!! <3
Profile Image for Jamie (Books and Ladders).
1,336 reviews190 followers
February 4, 2016
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Just as an fyi, the events in this book all make for totally valid reasons to become a pirate. This is wonderful. I can't wait to read it again.

I can't express with words how much I loved this story. This book is the perfect combination of romance and heartbreak and I feel as though my soul has been ripped in two. I know the general story of Blackbeard but not in depth, so it was really interesting for me to see parts of what I know overlap with the story's plot.

Anne and Teach have such a wonderful rapport and I just loved seeing them go from being weary of one another to understanding that they have more in common than they first thought possible. I loved seeing Anne grow into herself and be more willing to accept that she was not as lowborn as once believed. My heart ACHED for Anne and teach throughout this whole novel and then was RIPPED from me at the ending. I need more of their story.

This was a heavily character driven novel and it was so well done. Even the side characters, like Sara and Elizabeth were wonderfully written. They had such character and spunk and I would even be okay if there was more to the story just about them. I want Nicole Castroman to write me anything and everything about this time period.

If you are looking for your next epic romance, I am directing you to this novel. Anne and Teach and their love for each other and to be free in Castroman's hand made for an excellent read.

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Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews839 followers
December 22, 2015
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

I'm actually kind of mad at this book right now - how dare it end that way! The book was excellent, such a good read, until the ending. Rationally I know I probably should have expected the ending, given Blackbeard's true history, but it still made me bitter. Anyway, the book is REALLY good. The ending is... not.

Anne is a maid in the Drummond household, despite the fact that her father was a merchant. Her mother was a West Indian slave in his household, and so Anne's mixed heritage does her no favors. When Master Drummond's son Edward ("Teach") returns from a year at sea, everything in the Drummond household changes. Teach's engagement progresses, which brings his awful fiancee to the house often. But from the moment Teach and Anne meet, it's like lightning, fire, fate. Teach knows he shouldn't be interested in the help, but Anne seems like more than a maid to him. Anne knows she shouldn't be interested in the master's son, but Teach is so much more than a wealthy man's son...

This book is written in third-person dual POV, switching between Anne and Teach, starting with Anne. This is my favorite type of narration (third-person dual), and Castroman writes it well. I loved seeing the story unfold from both sides. Usually I'll end up loving one character and feeling kind of meh about the other - not the case here!

Anne is a lovely and complex character. She's judged everywhere she goes, because she's of mixed heritage (white father, West Indian mother). She was sent to the Drummond household to work. Anne is the only one of the household who knows who her father was (a rather important man), and so she knows she isn't supposed to be a maid. She longs to be free, to go to the West Indies, to stretch her wings and fly.

Meeting Edward was an experience. Edward "Teach" Drummond is a huge man, well-educated and clever, but also weighed down by his father's expectations. He's expected to marry a baron's daughter, and he's expected never to travel and sail again, after getting married. But meeting a certain maid changed things drastically. I liked Teach's intelligence and his kindness and his persistence.

The story is very much centered around Anne and Teach, as well as Teach's upcoming marriage. I loved seeing the two of them interact, and eventually fall for each other. While I kind of found their relationship to be unrealistic, I did like it. I never liked Teach's fiancee, Patience, and I'm glad she got what she deserved in the end. No love triangle. Cute and sweet romance.

I enjoyed Teach and Anne's mutual struggle for independence, and seeing them grow into what they wanted, rather than what they thought they wanted initially. I loved the climax of this book - finally, wrongs are righted!

But... the ending. Overall, I actually really liked this book. Just the ending really bothered me.

What I Did Not Like:

I could look past the unrealistic romance. Teach, a wealthy man's son, magically falling for a maid of mixed heritage? It seems to unlikely, from the late 1600s. He, like everyone else, should be disgusted by her heritage (the prejudice of the time), even if his travels have opened his eyes a little. What did Columbus and Spain and all those colonizing superpowers do to indigenous people (people of color?) Enslave them. Hate them. Think of them as lower than human. So why was Teach different? And why did he treat Anne with kindness? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he did. But it's unrealistic. If he thought she was so beautiful (which he did), typical males of time who were masters of the house forced themselves on the help.

But anyway. I could stretch my imagination and look past that.

The ending, however, could not be ignored. It's bad. Real bad. Cliffhanger might begin to cover it, except that there are no contracted sequels (or even just one book to follow). This is a standalone. Don't believe me? Read the Rights Report on Publishers Weekly. I also asked the author outright - no contracted sequel. This crushed me. The ending is so painful - especially knowing that there will most likely never be a book to follow.

And if we think it through - historically speaking, Blackbeard had 14 wives. And his ship is called Queen Anne's Revenge. Sooo... some things technically make sense. BUT. This is supposed to be a fictional retelling ISH of the Blackbeard story! Why the cruel ending!? Cruel isn't even a good word for the ending - merciless? Horrible? RUDE? I was not okay. Still not okay.

Would I Recommend It:

Heh. This is hard to say. On the one hand, I absolutely loved everything about this book up until the last 10% or so. On the other hand, the last 10% was bad. And "bad" not meaning the author's writing was bad, or it was poorly constructed or written or anything, but bad as in heartbreaking and cruel and unforgivable. I'm one of those readers that needs to be satisfied on one or two counts if you're going to write a standalone... one of those counts was ruined, in this book's ending.


3 stars. All because of the ending. If I knew there was a contracted sequel, this book would get 4 stars. But the author is only contracted for this one book, and she says she has "ideas for another" - meaning she isn't even writing one (and there is no contract for one, so it makes sense). Ugh! I need a good HEA!
Profile Image for Celeste.
689 reviews103 followers
Want to read
April 23, 2014
So pretty much what you're telling me is this is a pirate novel?

Will this be THE pirate novel?

You know, the one I've been searching for my entire life that's going to knock my socks off?
Profile Image for Michelle.
495 reviews106 followers
June 15, 2016
6/15/16: I keep staring at this book on my shelf and I keep thinking about the problems I had with it. I decided to change my review from a three star to a two star. I want someone to read the next book and tell me what happens so I don't have to read it but I kind of want to know what happens. I know that sounds weird but seriously...

2/24/16: I am a little disappointed with this book. I expected a sea voyage through the high seas filled with pirates, romance, and a thrilling adventure. I didn't really get pirates or an adventure but mostly romance. The problem with the romance is the main couple. Teach and Anne were somewhat likeable and I did feel sympathy towards them in the first half of the book but the second half became very repetitious and I just didn't really care about them anymore. Because I didn't feel connected to the characters, the romance dragged on for a while. I wasn't feeling it. I will mention that there is no insta-love which made it more tolerable. In the end, I did end up liking the romance but not fully in love with it. I didn't expect a cliffhanger ending so it felt abrupt. I am anticipating and strongly expecting a sequel which I may or may not read.
Profile Image for fyt.
216 reviews123 followers
Want to read
June 9, 2015
Please don't let it be Insta-love. Please don't let it be Insta-love. Please don't let it be Insta-love. Please don't let it be Insta-love. Please don't let it be Insta-love. Please don't let it be Insta-love.

Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews908 followers
March 30, 2016
An Electronic Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for review.

Edward "Teach" Drummond is the son of a very wealthy merchant in Bristol, England. Anne Barrett is a half English and West Indes daughter of another respectable merchant. After her brother throws her out on the street, he ends up giving her a place at Drummond'a household working as the cook. Anne is determined to leave and find what's left of her mother's family while Teach has no intention of marrying the wealthy aristocrat's daughter.

First thing, this not set on a ship at all. It's practically an origin story about Blackbird. I kept hoping there was going to be some sort of sailing done, but I gave up halfway through. It's all set in England with all the high-born and low-born characters. Side characters like Mary and Margery annoyed me simply because of their racist remarks. There's wasn't much to like either about Teach's father and Patience. These characters had so much prejudice against Anne for being a darker skin colour that I wanted to punch them sometimes. Then there's our main characters, told in their point of view, I liked them both. Anne and Teach were just so alike which is why they argued so much. I loved that Anne is independent and strong-willed, even though her retorts could get her unemployed, she kept true to herself and go her father and mother. Though she does make mistakes and she gets in trouble, she's perfectly flawed. Then there's Teach who has changed from the moment he stepped off the ship after a year's voyage. I liked how he finally learned to be independent and that also helped him be a better person, by seeing other for who they were. I love their chemistry and it wasn't love at first sight at all! Their meeting was the funniest encounter I've read so far.

I really think historical fans would like this one. There's a bit of a soap opera like plot, but the ending seems like there's going to be a whole lot of adventures coming our way. Cannot wait for the next instalment! I'm enthralled with Blackbeard's next voyage!
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,150 reviews1,008 followers
January 23, 2016
This review was originally posted on It Starts at Midnight
I have seen a few reviewers saying that this was different than they'd expected, and I totally agree. But for me, it was better. Here's what I thought the story was going to be:

And I was wary. Because I am not really a pirate story kind of girl. But since I really don't read synopses in detail 99% of the time, the actual plot escaped me until I read the book. Plus side to not ever reading what a book is fully about? Happy surprises!

Anyway, this is a story about Anne and Teach. Not just Anne and Teach and their relationship with each other, it's a story about them as individuals, and the struggles they're both going through. Basically, they are both perceived certain ways by those around them, and as is the case most of the time, they are far more than the stereotyped perceptions seem. I loved that though their backgrounds were incredibly different, they were ultimately searching for the same thing: the freedom to be who they wanted to be beyond the expectations and pressures from others.

But don't worry, it is also about Anne and Teach's relationship. The tension is palpable, and I loved it. I loved the diversity of Anne's background, especially considering the time period. I loved even more that it didn't ever bother Teach in the least, even when they barely knew each other. While everyone else was being judgy, he was not.

It's a very character driven story, so if you wanted tons of blood and swords, that isn't happening. But I found the characters to be fabulous and well fleshed out, so it worked great for me.

I had only two gripes. One was minor, and one was kind of big. The first one is a secondary plot point that I don't really think needed to be as involved as it was. Every time it was mentioned, it felt like it was butting in to remind me that we'd be seeing more about it later. It wasn't really a huge deal though, just a minor annoyance. The bigger deal for me is this: I have no idea if there is potentially going to be a sequel, or if the abruptness of how it ends is just how it ends. I don't usually talk endings, but this was the kind of situation that had me checking my Kindle to see if I missed something.

Bottom Line:  Blackhearts was a refreshing surprise. Very character driven with very strong female and male main characters really set this apart for me.
Profile Image for Brooks Benjamin.
Author 1 book154 followers
December 10, 2015
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

There's only one explanation for this book.

Only one.

Because nothing else makes sense, really.

By the time I finished chapter one of Blackhearts I was hooked (no pirate pun intended). I was sucked into some sort of wormhole and spat out right at the beginning of the 1700s. I was there. Walking with Anne Barrett through the streets of Bristol. Standing on the docks with Edward "Teach" Drummond, gazing out toward the endless sea. The dialogue dripped over me, thick and rich, and there wasn't a single sentence that wasn't swimming with gorgeous description.

I was completely captivated. For some reason it didn't even feel like I was reading this book. It felt like it was being narrated to me. Book on tape, sans tape, if you will. There was no trudging through scenes. I just stood still and the world Nicole had built simply carried me along with it. There was never a hint of any devastating moment where I would've felt as if I'd been yanked out of Anne's and Edward's time. This story welcomed me in, made me feel at home, and never let my senses rest. If this book were a taste it would be the sweet bite of toffee pudding. If it were a fabric, it would be the cool touch of silk.

The only jarring moment was when I turned that last page, begging for just one more chapter, and finding none. But I suppose all books, even the great ones, must come to an end. And unfortunately this one did. Even now, I stand by my claim. There is only one explanation as to how Nicole created a world so complete and uninterrupted.

She's actually 300 years old.

That's it.

It has to be.

She was there. She lived through this story. She brought it back to us. And I'm so glad she did.
Profile Image for Kristi.
1,188 reviews2,892 followers
October 12, 2015
Loved this one, so much fun to read. think I should also mention that this is not a pirate novel! I thought maybe we would get a little pirate action but it's truly an account of what happened on land that led to the man at sea. from what I can tell it's a stand alone and it works that way, but I would so totally be down for the authors interpretation on the rest of this story.

will be making a spot for this one on my bookshelf!
Profile Image for Erin.
2,962 reviews485 followers
March 9, 2018
2.9 stars

The synopsis sums up the story quite well and I won't rehash the plot here. This is an origin story for the legendary Blackbeard. The entirety of the story takes place on dry land and isn't quite the swashbuckling adventure that I thought it would be. The storyline is full of predictability, but that author's note does sound promising for the future books, now that the two main characters storylines have been established.
Profile Image for Sarah.
137 reviews233 followers
February 9, 2016


Today is a big day for Nicole Castroman! It's 'Blackhearts' release day and I for one couldn't be more excited! I picked up this book a couple of weeks ago and never expected to love it quite as much as I did. I read the summary, have seen excerpts and have heard the praise far and wide, but nothing prepared for just how much I enjoyed this fantastic debut from Nicole Castroman.

'Blackhearts' was everything I love about a great PBS Masterpiece program, like Poldark and Downton Abbey. As a matter of fact, one of the main characters, Edward "Teach' Drummond, reminded me a bit of the swoony leading man of Ross Poldark. I'm not going to lie, it was a total bonus to picture Aidan Turner as a young Blackbeard! He does brooding and introspective so well, and I instantly made the connection between Poldark and Teach. Anyway, like all good PBS period drama, 'Blackhearts' has plenty of plenty of drama, intrigue, secrets and swoon!

This is a quiet novel that tells a fictional story of the early days of the infamous and dreaded pirate, Blackbeard. When we meet him in the opening pages he has just returned from a thrilling year at sea and is less than thrilled to be thrust back into his pampered life as a son of a wealthy merchant. He's engaged to a woman he doesn't love and faces a future he doesn't want. Castroman does a wonderful job of creating a compelling back story for such a widely known but largely mysterious historical figure. From what I can gather, not much is known about his early beginnings, so I was totally intrigued to see Castroman's fictional take on where his story began. She painted a perfect picture of a passionate, smart man who yearns for a different way of life. It didn't take me long to become totally smitten with Teach and I was completely invested in the journey his character took throughout this book.

For as much as I loved Teach, I absolutely adored Anne. Her story is not that different from his, in the sense that she too is looking for a better life. All she wants is to do whatever it takes to break free of her current situation and find a better life. She's fierce, determined and I was SO on board with her mission! I loved what Anne brought to the story and also what she brought into Teach's life. After a rock beginning, she forces him to slow down and discover what he really wants from his future. I'm a sucker for a good hate-to-love romance and this one absolutely delivers! Reading as the two of them slowly open up to each other and break down each other's walls was my very favorite part of the book. Castroman's decision to tell the story using dual POV's was such a fantastic decision, as it allowed me to fully understand both Teach and Anne's motivations, feelings and reasoning.

The only question I have left is...will there be a sequel! Because there HAS to be a sequel! I don't know what I'll do if there's no sequel! That ending! I must know what happens next!!!

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'BLACKHEARTS' is the perfect combination of subtle period piece and swoony drama. Grab yourself a copy and get swept away by an unexpected origin story of the dread Pirate blackbeard.


This review was originally posted on what sarah read...
Profile Image for Stefani Sloma.
399 reviews117 followers
February 8, 2016
My first update on Goodreads while reading BLACKHEARTS was “This. I like it.” And that’s pretty much the perfect way to sum up my thoughts on this book. I liked BLACKHEARTS. A lot. I fell completely head over heels for Teach (Edward Drummond, the man who becomes Blackbeard). In fact, my other update on Goodreads while reading was this: “Teach, all day every day.” I mean, serious heart eyes over here, you guys. I DARE you to read this book and not love him.

And then there’s Anne, who’s a complete and total badass. She’s had a super tough life, but she’s fighting hard to make her own way, even if it means stealing. She wants to get out of the life she’s been stuck in and see the world – and on that note, I could relate to her so well. I enjoyed seeing her journey throughout the book, as well as her and Teach’s relationship going from something resembling unease and distrust to a beautiful rapport and mutual understanding. SWOON.

I think Nicole’s imagining of how Teach became a pirate, the life and actions and events that lead to him stepping on to that ship to take on the seas, is so very believable, and that’s probably my favorite part of the whole book (followed closely, of course, by Teach himself). She’s been so creative but she hasn’t tried to explain his reasoning in an inauthentic way. It’s very convincing.

The bottom line: Give me more, Nicole. Please? I also want to point out that some people might not like this ending, and I’ll admit I got a bit grabby hands at the end (you can ask Nicole), but I think it’s an absolutely perfect ending.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster for letting me read this!
Profile Image for Klinta.
334 reviews158 followers
July 12, 2016
Full review.

Opposed to all the people who have been disappointed, I didn't expect a pirate story. I read up about it and because I knew it wasn't a pirate book, I couldn't push myself to read it, because I love pirates.

So once I read it, I was in really weird place, I do not understand the reviews that complain about racism, women's right's or a man who's father treats him like a boy, because although it might offend someone, that is actually how things used to was. There was some fantasy bits, sure, but I had no trouble with that.

The actual book wasn't very interesting - almost nothing in it happen and once something did happen, it was very predictable. The romance seemed stupid and the reasons behind events as well. I was completely appalled by the fact that everyone would just simply believe what anyone said in this book and, if someone was accused, he did not lie himself out of the situation.

Reason why I have this book two stars, not one, is because it was so easy to read. I have to say that although the story wasn't too awesome, the first part of the book was fast, the second a bit slower. I have read way too many boring books that take forever to move and it seems like I'm reading a page per hour, this wasn't the situation. Anyway, I thin I will keep up with the series, because sometime pirating should start, right?
Profile Image for Evie.
714 reviews925 followers
September 29, 2015

Blackhearts is, essentially, a romanticized, fictional re-imagining of Blackbeard's teenage years. If you don't know who Blackbeard was then you've been living under a rock, he was a notorious English pirate who operated around the eastern coast of the American colonies and the West Indies. While he's known all around the world as the fearsome and unstoppable pirate, very little is known about his origin and early life. Blackhearts is quite an interesting attempt at imagining Blackbeard's pre-pirate existence.

While the synopsis makes it sound like an action-packed adventure filled with forbidden romance and rule-breaking, in reality the tone of the book is more historical fiction than sea adventures and swashbuckling. For the most part, the action takes place in England, within the premises of Drummond's estate, and it revolves more around Anne Barrett than Teach himself. Nicole Castroman herself likes to describe her book as a pre-pirate novel - a story of what made Teach decide to be a pirate - and that's pretty much what it is. It's a fascinating, illuminating and very well-written story for sure, and I thoroughly enjoyed.

We meet Teach shortly after he returns home from his one-year-long voyage across the seas. He's engaged and soon to be married, though he doesn't love his fiance and would much rather spend his life at sea. His heart longs for the vast oceans and exotic lands, and he has no interest in being a pawn in his father's business arrangements.

When he arrives home, he finds that his father has hired a new maid - a girl of dark skin and wild temperament, who instantly sparks his interest. Anne is hired by Drummond after her mother passes away and her half-brother throws her out on the streets. She doesn't have anyone else in England and all she wants is to return to India and hopefully re-connect with her distant relatives.

I must say, I really enjoyed the romance. It was a reluctant, slow-burning romance - as far from insta-love as it gets. In fact, Teach and Anne don't even like each other at first. Their first encounter is an utter disaster and the circumstances in which they meet and interact with one another are difficult to say the least. After all, Teach is engaged and Anne is just a common a maid (or at least that is her role in Drummond's household). It seems like they're worlds apart, and yet their souls are drawn to one another, for they're both desperate to be free and away from England. They fall in love slowly, they even try to fight it and then deny it, but their love is inevitable and untamable.

I'm also quite impressed with the amount of historical detail Nicole Castroman included in her book. She obviously did a lot of research and was passionate about the topics. And considering she didn't have a whole lot to go on (in regards of Teach's origin and youth), she put together a perfectly plausible scenario, filled with little nuances and historically accurate bits of information that really make this story a delicious treat for any history buff. I particularly like the idea of Anne being the inspiration for Teach naming his pirate ship Queen Anne's Revenge. I understand the part about Queen Anne already, and really hope there will be a sequel that will explain the "revenge" part as well. I am giddy with anticipation!
Profile Image for Amy Leigh.
327 reviews38 followers
March 24, 2018
This book was amazing!
A powerful historical fiction that mixes romance with piracy. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book and found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. I immediately got the sequel when I finished because I have to know what happens next.

The author skillfully used her knowledge of the history of Blackbeard and the time period to construct a beautiful book about what might have happened to turn Blackbeard to a life of piracy.

Edward "Teach" Drummond has just spent a year at sea and is returning home to finalize his engagement. Anne, a beautiful servant in the Drummond household has a very secretive past that could change her life in every way. Teach and Anne have an unpleasant encounter at the docks. What will happen when Teach discovers she works for his father?

Thank you to rivitedlit for a copy of this book for a fair and honest review!
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