Reader vs Reader: Blackhearts

Welcome to Reader vs. Reader (anyone have any wicked name suggestions???).  Two librarians who have read the same book will discuss it critically.  They may agree, agree on certain points, or completely disagree.  RvR will challenge your reading comfort zone and dig deeply into the text to find potential problems or subtle brilliance.  And maybe both.  

In , Andrea and Pam both read Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman 

Reader vs Reader: Blackhearts

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.

The Quick Reactions:

thumbs up
thumbs up
Pam: I’m a thumbs up but with up with reservations, because I didn’t hate it and it’s a perfectly serviceable teen historical romance. Andrea: I’m a light thumbs up. It wasn’t a bad book, but also wasn’t what I was expecting.


Snippet of our conversation (Warning: spoilers everywhere!):

Pam: Okay. So. I didn’t hate this one as much as I thought I would, which really surprised me.

Andrea: This one is a middle of the road for me. I was expecting something TOTALLY different and that ending, UGH!

Pam: As marketed, it’s a fail. Like, when you hear Blackbeard, it’s PIRATES and PIRACY and KILLING and BOOTY. This was like a very very very very tame Harlequin romance

Andrea: Yes! I told my co-working it was a Harlequin romance without the sex I WANTED PIRATES, YAR

Pam: I mean even the cover has a ship in a bottle on it. Gimme PIRATES

Andrea: YES, but honestly, the more I think about the more the cover is soooo fitting. They were both trapped in a bottle

Pam: And I think that them being trapped should have been explored even more. I liked how Anne felt that she didn’t fit in but knew she deserved to, and that she stood up to her freedom. BUT I also feel like part of the reason Teach fell for her was her “exotic” look.

Andrea:  I will agree he was pulled to her because of her looks. I do think once they started talking there was a connection, however, it was all super fast. Most of the book took place in 3 week

Pam: Yep. And then when Anne’s identity is revealed, people fell into line super fast, especially her maid who was all “yes Miss Anne” when they previously worked together and made fun of Anne

Andrea: It was, but I could see that happening as well. Although, I’m sure there was plenty of talk when she wasn’t around. AND the head housekeeper still wasn’t on board

Pam: And all of the problems in the book were resolved so easily. Accused of piracy? Pay the guy. Steal stuff? Get … sent on a ship to the West Indies because reasons?

Andrea: I think the whole accused of piracy was realistic. So many things could just be bought off back then

Pam: Oh yeah I think it was super realistic, but I expected it to make more of an impact on the plot. It was like, whoop, that happened. Oh well now I’m cool! One thing I did like, although I think it’s a pretty common trope in these sorts of romances, is that Anne kept pushing back against Teach even after they admitted they loved each other. Like, he would say something dumb, and she’d correct him and just do her thing. Later he’d realize he was a jerk. She didn’t just fall over and do whatever he said. I liked that about her.

Andrea:  I LOVE Anne as a character. She takes no crap from anyone no matter what her status was.

Pam: Anne was a genuine kick butt lady.

Andrea: But I hate the whole brother storyline and how it basically just dropped off

Pam: Yeah what happened with that? I think we are all going to meet up again in the next book in the West Indies and STUFF WILL GO DOWN.

Andrea: I’m hoping so. It seemed too easy that he just got to disappear

Pam: I honestly didn’t see the Best Friend getting betrothed pregnant twist, but it felt a little silly?

Andrea: Oh, I did. I totally called it when she found the note. And it totally felt like just a way to add drama and tension. Neither character was truly fleshed out

Pam: Yeah, that too. Also, I didn’t quite get the whole stealing subplot except as a way to get to the ending. Wouldn’t you just … put it back once you had your money? I’d think some other made-up scandal would have worked just as well to get her out of the picture.

Andrea: I think she was trying to put it all back right away when Teach found her and she lied about how much she had. The timing is honestly really short. It felt like much more time had passed, but I honestly think it was only 3-6 weeks max. And I think the story was fine, but when you realize how short of a time span it is, it all feels rushed. I liked the romance between Teach and Anne, but it felt so instalove because he was saying I Love You within 3 weeks

Pam: Yes, I actually LIKED the romance for once, but again, the instalove in the sickroom thing was like UGHHHH. I was thinking that for teens who want a relatively tame romance, this would totally work. I don’t think they’d mind the time frame, but as an older reader, I do.

Andrea: It was totally your average period romance for teens. I honestly think I’m more interested in book 2. To see how she takes him from this relatively respectable man to someone who was not always so respectable

Pam:. Yes! And I really wonder what Anne will do with that Teach. Like as not she’d shoot him or whack him with a pail. Or join him 😀

Andrea: Yeah, I have a feeling she may die *sigh* But  the ship is Anne’s Revenge so it could go either way

Pam: Oooh, good point!

Andrea: I do think I’m looking forward to seeing what book 2 brings. There’s tons of loose ends to wrap up.

Stay tuned next month when we’ll duke it out over The Girl that Fell by Shannon M. Parker. If you have a suggestion for what a future read, please let us know!

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