On These Black Sands (Aisling Sea, #1) – Vanessa Rasanen [ARC Review]

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

AN HEIR ON THE RUN

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.

A PIRATE CAPTAIN WHO NEEDS HER HELP

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?

Review:

Massive thank you to Vanessa Rasanen and Book of Matches Media for sending me this e-arc! All opinions are my own.

So I had been hearing rumblings about On These Black Sands for a while and I was definitely intrigued. And then the fates aligned and I was able to sign up for the ARC tour with Book of Matches Media. I was so excited to be chosen and to get my hands on an early copy of this incredible book.

On These Black Sands is a fantasy pirate adventure full of snarky characters, swoon-worthy pirates, and an absolutely fascinating world that I am dying to learn more about. There’s swashbuckling adventures, political intrigue, romance, betrayal, and some truly crazy twists!

On These Black Sands is primarily told through two perspectives: Aoife and Declan. Aoife is a naive young woman and former heir whose entire world has just been shattered. Declan is a young pirate captain desperate to prove himself and keep his painful memories at bay. These two characters have a magnetic pull to each other. Their connection was evident from the first time they meet and it only grew with each interaction. On These Black Sands is an excellent slow burn romance. It takes a while and we really only get a taste, but I can’t wait for more of Aoife and Declan. One of my favorite things about their relationship is that there’s an instant attraction and connection, but they don’t act on it. No instant love here! Aoife and Declan spend countless hours just talking and getting to know one another. This builds on their initial connection and creates such a beautiful bond. Some of my favorite scenes were just Aoife and Declan together in the captain’s quarters. I adore their sassy banter!! Plus there’s an “only one bed” trope which is one of my favorites! Not to mention . . . Declan is totally swoon-worthy!

There are also a few side characters who I am dying to get to know more. AKA TOMMY! I can’t wait to get more of him (and the rest of the crew) in the next book. There’s also Declan’s sister, Cait, who has a few of her own POV chapters that were super intriguing. I really want to know more about Cait and her rebel group, the rogues. My one complaint about On These Black Sands is that I wanted more. Cait’s chapters and story arc were all very vague. I feel like I still don’t really know what her purpose with the rogues is and who they really are. I’m guessing that this is all coming in the upcoming books.

On These Black Sands is definitely a “set-up” book. What I mean by this is that there is a whole lot that is introduced and that I am dying to know more about. There is action, adventure, and more, but there is a lot of world-building and set up for the rest of the series. I was totally captivated by this story and I cannot wait to continue on this adventure with Declan, Aoife, and the crew of the Siren’s Song. There is so much more coming in the rest of the series. I am especially looking forward to more of the fantasy elements (the fae, magic dagger, etc.) coming into play.

The ending of On These Black Sands is epic. The twists and cliffhanger are crazy and have me so dang excited for the next book in this series. That cliffhanger is perfect. I don’t know how I am going to wait to find out what happens next. Curse of being an early reader, I guess?

Some random things that I loved about On These Black Sands:

  • The colorful and vibrant towns. Vanessa’s writing is so descriptive and vivid. I loved the imagery!
  • The Irish influence!! My last name is McCarthy so I love the Irish inspiration! I will say that I am so grateful that Vanessa included a pronunciation guide.
  • Anxiety and panic attack representation. I love seeing mental health rep in fantasy books. As someone who also struggles with generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks, I truly appreciated the way Vanessa depicted Aoife’s anxiety.

On These Black Sands is a fantastic book! I was hooked from the very beginning and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! If you love pirates, a good slow burn romance, well written characters, and fascinating world building then you should definitely check out On These Black Sands by Vanessa Rasanen!

On These Black Sands is set to release August 10th, 2021. Preorder your copy today!!

2 thoughts on “On These Black Sands (Aisling Sea, #1) – Vanessa Rasanen [ARC Review]

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