Book Review: On These Black Sands by Vanessa Rasanen


An awkward stowaway. A troubled pirate captain. Is she the key to his quest or will she be his ruin?

Aoife wants nothing more than to fulfill her duty and serve on the Council. But a spilled secret reveals a deadly truth she never suspected. Plagued by guilt and wanting no part in the Council’s methods, she panics and runs, stowing away on a pirate ship.

Declan doesn’t have time to deal with an irritating stowaway, and this job is already dangerous enough without having her underfoot. With less than a month to bring the enchanted dagger to the rebels, he needs to find a way past the bloodthirsty creatures guarding it.

In a world of secrets and legends, a lost dagger may be the key to saving a nation. But it will take far more than wit and a cutlass to retrieve it. Can an heir and a pirate work together–or will their secrets drown all hope?

This enchanting tale of deceit, magic, and love on the high seas featuring slow-burn romance (with fade-to-black level steam), snarky banter, found family, and close friendships is perfect for fans of Adrienne Young, Tricia Levenseller, and Danielle L Jensen.


My rating: 5/5 stars

I have a lot of great things to say about this new pirate romance, starting with the plot.

PLOT: I found the plot to be well thought out and carefully crafted. I enjoyed trying to piece together everything as things unfolded in a very well-timed manner. The plot was always in focus, and everything lent itself to further the goal.

PACING: The pacing was very well-done. I didn’t once feel bored while reading.

CHARACTERS: Aoife is the awkward, naive main character who had been lied to her whole life. At times she may come across as dumb, but it really was her nativity showing. At the beginning of the book, it’s even explained that she’d only spoken to a handful of men her whole life, perhaps had never even had a single conversation with her father. There were a lot of things about the world she thought were fantasies to make books and stories interesting. So her character felt very naturally naive. By the end of the book, there is character growth for her, though I would love to see her grow even more in the following books!

Declan is the pirate captain who has a soft spot. I found his hardened character and sad backstory to be very believable. His backstory is heart-wrenching and explains so much of how he acts in front of others. Then along comes Aoife, the awkward stowaway who starts to break down his walls.

I loved watching Aoife and Delcan’s relationship go from enemies to almost-lovers by the end of the book. The slow-burn romance was very well done, and I found myself wanting to hurry up to get to the romance (in a good way). It wasn’t dragged out, per se. I think the romance was paced very well.

ESCAPISM: As far as it goes with the escapism element, I thoroughly enjoyed being swept away to the Aisling Sea! I was so emersed in the story that I often forgot where I was or the time or the meal I had cooking in the oven (RIP my burnt casserole).

This book will be a definite re-read for me one day. I can’t wait until the sequel releases this August!

PLOT: 5/5




Vanessa Rasanen’s Links

Website | Instagram

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