Book Review: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Blackhearts (Blackhearts, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

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.

My Review:

Blackhearts is an unstoppable story full of history, romance, and intrigue. This is Nicole Castroman’s debut novel and her writing style is genius.

The story is told from the 3rd person limited POV. You go through the story seeing through both Teach’s and Anne’s perspectives. The 3rd person limited narration allows the reader to fully understand the context of the situation through the character’s eyes. When Anne is speaking, we only know how she is feeling and how she is interpreting Teach’s actions. The reader comes to understand how high society functions as well as the behind the curtain of the household staff. Anne is considered beneath the regular household staff due to her mother’s background (being from the West Indies).

Castroman did an excellent job at conveying the misogynistic, sexist,  and racist standards present during the time period Blackhearts is written. I didn’t have any preconceived notions about this book, but I will say reading others reviews of it helped me set my mind. When you hear “Blackbeard retelling”, you think pirates and ships. While Castroman didn’t give us those things in Blackhearts, she gave us a starting place, which I am grateful for. To understand Blackbeard you have to know where he comes from, and specifically, what made him into a pirate.

The romance itself is a slow burn, building to greatness. You can feel the attraction between Teach and  Anne from the first page. It also helps that there are other characters who get in their way. Miss Patience, the little priss teach is betrothed to (I wished she’d fall off a cliff. I am sure there are plenty in Bristol). Master Drummond, Anne’s employer and Teach’s father. I hope, if there is a second book (there better be), we come to understand why Master Drummond was so controlling, thinking he knew what was best for his son. I can’t believe that his character is just that controlling.

And finally, THAT CLIFFHANGER ENDING! I stayed up super late to finish reading Blackhearts and it was totally worth it (I also had a terrible nights sleep, dreams filled with rats, cockroaches, ships, and seas). The slow burning love Teach and Anne have for each other reaches it’s climax and then everything explodes. My only thought at the end of the book was, if Anne hadn’t lied to Teach originally then none of this would be happening!

Black Sails tv season 3 starz pirate

If you like historical fiction, retellings, and romance, Blackhearts is the perfect combination.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Special Review, YA Historical

Book Review: Secrets of the Realm by Bev Stout


I want to thank the author Bev Stout for giving me a copy of her book in exchange for a honest review.

Goodreads Summary:

Blamed for her uncle’s death, fifteen-year-old Annie is on the run. Knowing the perils she will face on the streets of eighteenth century London, she disguises herself as a boy. Her life on the streets is cut short when she becomes Captain Hawke’s cabin boy.
Not only must Annie work alongside the Realm’s motley crew of outcasts and gentlemen, she must also keep her superstitious shipmates from discovering she is a girl.
Annie vows she will never leave the Realm, where dreams are chased, shattered lives can mend, and secrets are stowed like keepsakes in an old desk drawer. But when her past catches up with her, can she return to the Realm? More importantly, will she have a choice?


A lot of YA Historical novels that I’ve read, seem to have dumb-downed their language, or they use contemporary english in order to make it easier for the reader to read. Secrets of the Realm is different. The first thing that we notice when reading this book is that we get a very different english than the one we use everyday. We also learn sailor slang of the era the book is set in. If you ever find yourself time traveling into the past, this book might save you from trouble. It also teaches you how to become a cabin boy if you are a girl. 🙂

At first, I wasn’t so sure if I liked Annie. Her temper and her actions seemed to get her into trouble all of the time. Through the course of the novel though, she grew and I started to like Annie a lot more. The secondary characters that I absolutely loved and dare I say loved before Annie, were Doc and Christopher. They both helped Annie in so many ways and made Annie a more relatable and personable character.

Now, let’s talk about someone I’ve been avoiding on purpose for several reasons and that is Captain Hawke. For a while there, I didn’t know how old Captain Hawke was, but towards the end, I figured out how young and handsome he is. I dare not say more for the sake of not spoiling you.

I also want to point out quickly that Annie’s attitude for a girl in 18th Century England is not the norm. I love that she prefers sailor clothes over frilly dresses, and that she is strong willed. We can really see the difference in her attitude when the men are telling a story about something dangerous that happened out at sea and one of the lady’s at dinner is fainting, saying such a story was giving her vapors. The author clearly shows how differently women were viewed in the 18th Century.

Lastly, I enjoyed the culture created by the sailors in the Realm. In the Realm, they are all family and all depend on each other to defend the boat and help it get across the seas to its destination.


I really enjoyed Secrets of the Realm even though it was a little slow at first. It is important you take in everything as you read it because some parts of the book are jam-packed with really fast paced scenes. I had to re-read some parts in order to fully capture what had been written.

If you like Historical fiction and are a fan of the sea and the sea life, I would recommend this book to you.

Rating: 4/5