On These Black Sands by Vanessa Rasanen

On These Black Sands

by Vanessa Rasanen

Genre: Fantasy | Romantasy

Star Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


When I mess up, I almost wish I could toss a saucy grin over my shoulder and say, “But I’m a Pirate.” Alas, I was born a bit out of time for the pirates of old. Truthfully, I probably would’ve been more frightened by them than willing to join with them, rule-follower that I am, had I been born in a time when they ruled the seas.

Nevertheless, for a one entire day—because that’s how long it took me to read this book—I felt like I was a pirate; fearless and roguish and getting into way too much trouble for my own good. With every chapter, Vanessa Rasanen painted an inviting picture of the pirate life—from the friendships among the crew, to the pirate captain who actually has a heart, to daring escapes from danger and moments when it wasn’t clear whether freedom would be forthcoming.

Through the pages, we adventure with a clueless girl who becomes a fearless warrior. Well, mostly fearless. Except when it comes to the captain, but that’s a different kind of fear. The journey Rasenen takes us on is gripping, intense, and quite the emotional voyage. I loved every second of it! I must confess, there were moments when I was tempted to sneak a peak at the last few pages just so my heart could rest easier as I read.

With Aoife’s soft heart, we see the tenderness of some of these otherwise roughened, seafaring men. With Declan’s unusual ways, we’re reminded that things aren’t always as they seem. And throughout the story, we learn again that people can grow and change and even grow on us in ways we never thought possible.

Amid the quest for a magical object to (hopefully) aid rebels in their attempt to make their town safe, Rasenen ties in themes of redemption, forgiveness, and hope.

The romance builds naturally, though it’s a bit more spicy than I’m used to seeing; it still left plenty to the imagination. I can’t wait to see what Rasanen does with these characters in book 2! (Which is sitting on my nightstand, appropriately marked with my crocheted shark book mark.)

I only wish I’d been sitting on a beach somewhere, merry little toes digging into the sand as I read.


There is a little bit of language in the book, though, to me it’s fitting . . .
I mean, they’re pirates. I would also consider this language very mild.


We all want to know we belong, Tommy. Whether it’s in the shadow of our captain—or in a new land of strangers or in a council of rulers. We weren’t meant to be alone. We weren’t meant for solitude. But what’s the point of being among people if you can never be comfortable? Be yourself?

Aofie, p. 208


No matter what you’ve done or how hopeless things might seem, there is always hope for redemption. Lean on the people around you. Learn to look with new eyes. Believe that things can be different, and set your heart to make them so.

I’d love to hear from you! What Vanessa Rasanen book is your favorite? What were your thoughts on this one? Have you read another fantasy or romantasy book that you enjoyed? Or what are you reading right now that you really love? Drop a comment below!

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