February 9, 2016
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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.
Our introduction to Anne is perfect. We meet her when she's at the market, attempting to buy things for a special dinner Master Drummond is hosting. It shows us not only her current position in life, her stress and fear over getting what it is required of her -- but not at too high of a price -- but gives us a glimpse of her spirit, as well. Though Anne is a maid, that is not what she has always been and she is still strong and willful.
I loved her from the start.
Edward 'Teach' Drummond I was less sure of in the beginning. Having just returned a year at sea, he is rough and seems unforgiving.
I did like, though, how his and Anne's interactions begin. Given both their positions in the Drummond household, their personalities and the mix of things they are keeping secret and those they're dreaming of, their beginning was perfect. Because it was imperfect.
The progression, growth and development of the relationship between the two of them is fantastic. There was a very natural feeling progression that fit the characters, the time and the place. The inclusion of Bristol and England's social hierarchy -- Teach's merchant father, those with titles, the servants -- was a nice added layer. Especially next to how different people viewed Anne, the daughter of a slave woman from the West Indies and a white English merchant.
The way both Anne and Teach feel trapped and imprisoned was nicely done. The idea of the wealthy, educated merchant's son feeling repressed could have gone very wrong, More so next to the biracial, penniless maid's similar feelings. With each character recognizing what they have, what they don't and sympathizing with the other's position, readers will sympathize as well
The romance, chemistry and attraction between Teach and Anne is undeniable. Neither is the difficulty the pair are facing. Even if Anne's past were known, if Edward were not engaged, where and when they live would still present problems. But can what they feel be denied? Is there truly anything to be done?
So, so, so many times I wanted to look up Blackbeard, to see how much truth there was to this novel, but mainly to find out if Anne and Teach get a happy ending. I have abstained, though, because this story, however fictional it may be, was too perfect to possibly ruin. That is not to say that everything turns out well in the end of Blackhearts, or that it doesn't (no spoilers here!) but Anne and Teach's love is a story I don't want to spoil with facts.
These two, their relationship, their trials and tribulations, their triumphs are going to stay with me for a long time. I love this book and the way Nicole Castroman finds the similarities in two characters who, initially, seem so very different and how she did not ignore how society was at the time but instead used it to her - and the story's - advantage.
I really do love this book (had to say it one last time).
Something You Might Also Enjoy: the movie Belle starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw
digital copy received, for review, from publisher, via Edelweiss