Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman
Book Two of the Blackhearts series
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Nicole Castroman brings the dangerous pirate ports of the Caribbean to life in this vibrant sequel to Blackhearts—the reimagined origin story of history’s most infamous pirate, Blackbeard.
Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capital offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in order to save his crew from the attacking Spanish ships.
Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely avoids the Spanish attack, making it safely to Nassau. But lawless criminals, corrupt politics, and dangerous intentions fill the crowded streets of this Caribbean port. Soon, Anne discovers that the man entrusted to keep the peace is quite possibly the most treacherous of them all—and he just happens to hold Teach’s fate in his terrifying hands.
Life and death hang in the balance when Teach and Anne are given a dangerous mission. It’s a mission that will test their love, loyalty and devotion, forcing them down a path neither one could have ever imagined.
What I Liked:
Over a year ago, I read Blackhearts and enjoyed the story, but hated the ending. At the time, no sequel had been contracted. This weighed somewhat on my rating of the book. Months later, a sequel was announced (just one). Who wasn't excited?! I think this was a good sequel, and probably as good as the first book, for most readers. But I personally wasn't feeling it, didn't love it, and that's how the three-star rating is showing up again. I fully admit the fact that most readers will probably love this book. I didn't. I didn't hate it either though.
Blackhearts left us with a terrible, horrible ending. This book picks up nearly where its predecessor left off (give or take a few days, maybe weeks? I can't remember). Anne is on a ship to Nassau, but she has made friends with Cara and Coyle, who offer to let her stay with their uncle at Nassau. Anne and the rest of the ship arrive safely in Nassau, and she begins to work for Alastair in his tavern. Teach is on another ship, bound for Nassau as well. But when Teach arrives, he is arrested by Governor Webb and given a merciless decision: find the pirate Easton, or hang. The politics of Nassau are filthy and corrupt, and there is nothing that Teach and Anne can do about it, except flee. Teach sets out to find Easton, with Anne stowed away. But they will discover what they feared about Governor Webb, Lord Pelham, and other men of power at Nassau.
I adored Teach in this book. His character development is subtle and something you don't actively notice, but from the start of this book to the finish, you can see how much he has grown. He is less of a lovesick boy and more of a hardened, fierce, loyal man. He assumes a captain's role of more than one ship, and it suits him. I liked seeing him become even more of a leader, and a smart one at that. He never thinks of himself alone, always of his crew, and Anne, and Anne's loved ones.
Anne, meh. I didn't really care for her in this book. I'll talk about her in the next section. But, meh.
There is a much more adventurous tone in this book, especially since much of the book is set at sea of near a ship. I liked this change of pace, because the story moved a little faster. I was still bored (which I'll talk about later), but at least the story seemed more lively than in Blackhearts. Not that Blackhearts was super boring, but I like the more pirate-y feel to this book.
Some of the secondary characters are awesome! Teach's best friend John is a wonderful friend and good first mate. Reva, a sly and cunning pirate, is so kickbutt and admirable. Alastair, Cara, Coyle, and Beth (Alastair's lady) are supporting and loyal people who are so good to Anne (too good to be true?). Even Easton was a character I grew to like! Though we don't really meet him until the end.
No love triangle, though there are some things that annoyed me about the romance (see below). Teach and Anne's relationship is really strong, and nothing comes between them or their feelings for each other. It's the author that likes to play games with the romance (again, see below).
In general, this was a good sequel. Don't necessarily be fooled by the rating - I can definitely appreciate how well-written and satisfying this sequel was. Just... not for me, maybe? I have a feeling of meh in my head.
What I Did Not Like:
I didn't really care for Anne, in this book. I didn't hate her but I also wasn't really rooting for her. She doesn't really think things through and is always shoving herself into places and businesses and things that she doesn't belong in. I hate how she was constantly trying to justify herself and her presence when she really needed to just not. Look, I get that all the authors are trying to make all the female characters more "kickbutt" and fierce. But on Anne, it seemed fake and forced. I was rolling my eyes at Anne during the entire book. She needed to take a seat and stay put. I'm not really an advocate for "sit back and let the men do the work" but Anne isn't the smartest girl so... given how she just rolls right into trouble, I wouldn't let her get into business she doesn't belong in. Especially when she tries to act like she's a perfect shot and she can fight, after "learning" how to shoot a pistol for like, two days? Girl, please. Take a seat.
But of course, everything magically works out for her when she does join a battle or enters a fray. Because of course. *cue eye-rolling* I can't stand that type of fake female protagonist.
Moving on. The romance. Yes, Teach/Anne are a solid pair. But the author threw in Coyle, who loves Anne (Anne cares for him as a brother, don't get too upset). This was... unnecessary? Annoying? Irrelevant? WHY was it necessary to the plot, other than to send Teach's blood pressure up, and mine? What purpose did having Coyle love Anne serve? Why couldn't they be platonic friends? (Well, Anne certainly thought they were.)
And then there are all of the lewd comments that some of the male sailors/pirates made around Anne when she was discovered on Teach's ship. This, I found more believable, but really? What, is this girl Helen of Troy? Does she have sort of magical essence that makes all men attracted to her? Literally every other attractive male sailor/pirate? Again, nothing came out of this, the romance is all Teach/Anne, there are no feelings or kisses or anything except between Teach and Anne. But it's so unnecessary!
And let's be real - this kind of thing is annoying on so many levels. How about the author drop a hot, attractive female in Teach's direction, and let that female throw herself at Teach. He's an attractive guy, and a captain. Nothing love-triangle-y, but something annoying and irritating, like Coyle, and those male pirates. Is that going to happen? NO! Because that would literally be the end of the world and we can't upset Anne (or the female protagonist in general)! Could authors just not?
Again, no love triangle. It's just the author being irritating. She's probably trying to show how much Teach cares about Anne by how jealous and possessive he gets. Hey Castroman, how about you go the other way around now, huh? Parade some hot ladies in front of Teach, let's see Anne's jealousy, let her get possessive and fight for/over her man. *cue eye roll*
I was bored for the beginning of this book. I admit, I did a good amount of skimming and fast-paced reading. The tone of this book is much more adventurous than that of Blackhearts, but I was feeling kind of meh about this story. It's good! I was bored though. It could have been my mood.
Would I Recommend It:
Yeah, I'd recommend this book, because it is a good sequel and a well-written book. But also no, I don't recommend this book, because there is no contracted book three, and the ending of this book kind of demands a book three. No ridiculous cliffhanger (i.e. like Blackhearts), but the ending is so unresolved and wide open, in a more general direction (not just talking about Teach and Anne anymore). So maybe don't bother with this one until you know for sure that there will be a book three? Because, at this time (March 26th, 2017), there is no third book contracted.
3.5 stars -> rounded down to 3 stars. This was a very quick read for me, and while I was bored and sometimes irritated, I'm glad I gave this book a chance. Don't be fooled by my rating and the dislikes section - it's a good book overall. Maybe I'm getting too caught up in the details (I probably am). I personally felt a little meh about this book and I can't quite pinpoint why, but it could very well be my current mood!
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