On These Black Sands by Vanessa Rasanen {Aisling Sea; #1}

Book Blurb:


In one month, Aoife Cascade will turn twenty and take her seat on the Council of Cregah, an honor she’s been preparing for her whole life. But when she lets a secret slip to her mother with devastating consequences, all her plans for the future crumble. Believing her people to be better off without her, she flees Cregah, stowing away aboard a pirate ship bound for dangerous waters.


Captain Declan McCallagh is young compared to the pirate lords, but after twelve years on the grueling sea, he has earned a well-respected ship and the attention of the lords, who’d like nothing better than to see his ruin. All he wants is to leave the Aisling Sea—and his past—behind him. But when his sister demands he find the enchanted dagger her rebel faction needs to overthrow the ruling Council, he’ll have to decide whether to cast off all family ties or take the perilous voyage to waters guarded by sirens, only passable with the help of the last remaining fae, currently imprisoned by the Council.

With murder and betrayal at every turn, can Aoife and Declan learn to rely on one another? Or will the secrets they carry destroy their people—and each other?

I received this book from the author for free, however, this is a voluntary review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.

Rayleigh’s Review:

More than once, I was caught reading this at work. Not because the book was seen or anything, but because I was laughing out loud to myself in my office like a lunatic and had to explain to my coworkers that pregnancy has NOT made me totally insane–yet. The snark in On These Black Sands is 100% my language and, if it’s even possible, brought out my snarky side even more than usual (my poor husband…pirates and snark in one book). This book is really just wonderful, and if you’ve seen the hype on Bookstagram, it DEFINITELY lives up to it!

I am not new to Vanessa Rasanen’s work. In fact, Soldier On, her book that I read and reviewed back in early 2019, is still one of my all-time favorite Contemporary Romances and one that I still readily recommend to my friends. I’ve been patiently waiting for her next release, and though I would’ve loved for the sequel to Soldier On to have been her next book, this pirate fantasy is far from a disappointment. On These Black Sands is vastly different from her other book (obviously) but just like in Soldier On, I found myself drinking in every word penned, holding my breath around every chapter, and yes, falling in love with and rooting for all of her characters. Her romance writing skills are truly unmatched.

The storyline of Aoife (ee-fuh) and Declan and their quest for the enchanted dagger is both exciting and dangerous. From the very first chapter, the promise of action is fulfilled and rarely slows down during all 436 pages. We encounter swashbuckling fun, intense action, romance, and of course, a bit of mystery and intrigue. Though I was forced to put the book down a few times because of life (bleh), Aoife and Declan were rarely far from my thoughts and I couldn’t wait to settle back in and return to the pages. Now that it’s over with a cliffhanger ending (GAH!) and without this book even officially released yet, my natural binge addiction is throwing a tantrum at the thought of how long I might go without book two. Just…so many feels. I honestly can’t wait for book two!

With On These Black Sands being labeled as “New Adult Fantasy”, I’m sure some readers may be concerned about the content that would classify it as NA instead of YA, so this part of my review is for you! I do believe that On These Black Sands lives up to this classification of NA Fantasy because the characters are older than typical YA characters, and though this book is void of any actual scenes that would have my more intense judgment, there are plenty of inuendoes and action/gore that seemed more graphic than a typical YA fantasy, but nowhere near what I’ve come across in some Adult Fantasy. Romance-wise: there are several heavy flirting scenes that play on passionate attraction, a couple of passionate kissing scenes, and plenty of body admiration and verbal flirting. But, it never goes further than that in this book. There might be some potential for that in the sequential books to come, but this one was without. Language-wise: Some very minor cursing and infrequent at that, never the f-word or anything else like that. Action/Gore-wise: It’s pirates, so I mean, you should expect some blood on your shoes. There are a few detailed fight scenes that give you a pretty good mental image of death, but I never thought any of it was overkill. Overall, the content in this book would not go above a PG-13 rating in my opinion.

In complete review, On These Black Sands is absolutely everything I’d hoped it to be coming from an author that I already held in high esteem! I can’t wait to continue Aoife & Declan’s story…even if that means that I must wait a while longer to continue Meg & Charlie’s from Soldier On! It has a glowing, and sparkling, 5 stars from me!

Available for Preorder (Out August 10, 2021):

Audiobook/CDs: Unavailable


Other books by Vanessa Rasanen:


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