Blackhearts by Nicole Castrovan
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.
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 torape 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.