Review of Beneath Black Sails by Clare Sager

Sometimes it takes a pirate to catch a pirate.
With weather magic on her side, Lady Vice is the bane of the high seas, but she isn’t captain of her own ship. Yet. If she can persuade her captain to give her a command, she’ll be in charge of her own fate.
To pay off his family’s debts, Knigh Blackwood hunts pirates for the Royal Navy. And he’s damn good at it. When the bounty on Lady Vice increases, he’s determined to make her face justice, even if that means using unorthodox methods.
Forced to work together, neither can deny their mutual attraction. As the pair faces battles at sea and schemes aboard their ship, they discover hints about a long-lost treasure that could be the answer to both their problems.
But treasure isn’t the only thing buried. Secrets best forgotten lie in wait that could blast them apart. And the closer Vice and Knigh grow, the greater the threat – to her freedom and to his family. Because for one to succeed, the other must fail.

Beneath Black Sails is a high seas adventure, full of pirates, fae, amazing characters and some steamy romance, it’s a great read and I’m grateful to the author for providing me with an advance copy for review.

Having read part of the authors earlier series, one thing for sure is that Clare Sager is brilliant at writing amazing characters, Lady Vice is no shrinking violet, she is able to hold her own against traditionally male counterparts, and as the story continues she is a character with many complex layers and vulnerabilities forged through her earlier life experiences. I initially, albeit briefly, struggled to warm to her though I have to admit, I think I found her early scenes to be a little hammy and I was worried that she would be a bit like a female Jack Sparrow, however as soon as she finds herself on deck with Knigh, the story and her character find their flow and she was wonderfully compelling to read. Knigh as well, vastly went up in my estimations as their characters become more entwined and their complicated back story comes to life. I have to come clean and say enemy’s to lovers is probably one of my least favourite romance tropes, but I never hugely felt that this was a large part of this tale, the story moves quickly and it’s clear from their first meeting that the enemies part really never came into it much. The steamy scenes are written well and whilst little is left to the imagination it doesn’t feel over the top – hand fans at the ready people.

The story is very much driven by it’s two leads, however, I found Vice’s friend Perry to be a lot of fun, she is great counsel too and is a good balance to Vice’s sometimes careless ways, I also have to say that as animal sidekicks go, Barnacle the cat is up there with my favourites and I had to enjoy the little nod back to the Counterfeit Contessa series with the mention of Sabrecats!  I do hope we get to spend more time with her and Vice’s friends in the next book. I’m also trash for Fae so I’m crossing my fingers for some greater fae involvement next time too, especially as Vice’s talents with the oceans and the weather is one of the biggest mysteries of the story. Whilst I’m happy to accept that’s just the way it is for this book it’s too huge a deal to not know more about, I also get the feeling that there is more to Knigh’s talents to find out about. Thinking back it’s clear that there is a lot of groundwork laid for future books in the series and it’s nice to have some questions hanging in the balance.

The battles and ship boarding are done particularly well, there is a lot of attention to detail here to paint the picture of the masts and deck – and hours of me playing Assassins Creed: Black Flag, probably helped a little too. The closing stages are wonderful reading, I honestly couldn’t put it down from the moment they arrived in Albion to the end page, devastating and exciting my heart was pounding for a lot of it, willing the story to play out the way I was hoping, holding my breath at every turn. It looks like book 2 will be out this year and honestly I can’t wait to see where the adventure goes next!

4.5 Stars

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