Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Posted May 27, 2010 by Sara | Novel Novice 3 Comments

Recently, our own Ms. Truitt wrote a review of Jekel Loves Hyde, the new book by Beth Fantaskey. The book sounded so good, I quickly headed to the bookstore to pick it up — where I discovered Fantaskey’s previous novel, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.

And being the “sucker” that I am for vampire stories (pun 100% intended), I couldn’t resist Jessica’s Guide and read that one first.

True confession: I read the book in only two days. And I read most of it in a single sitting, staying up way too late on a work night to finish.

So as you can imagine, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

First things first — here’s what it’s about:

The undead can really screw up your senior year …

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancé. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is not the most AMAZING book of all time. It’s not a perfect literary masterpiece. It’s not likely to end up being taught in English classrooms years from now.

But Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is wholly entertaining and completely, indulgently satisfying. Fantaskey perfectly taps into the attraction readers get from a vampire-human romance, and she’s not afraid to satisfy those fantasies. She gives us exactly what we want — and that’s where the true success of the story comes from. She indulges our wants from a vampire romance, and she does so with expert finesse.

The plot unfolds with cinematic-like pacing, which makes it easy to keep turning the page (and, as I learned first-hand, stay up way too late reading). What’s more is that Fantaskey’s characters are multidimensional and its fun to watch them grow and develop — especially Jessica, as she matures and accepts her destiny — and Lucius, as he transforms from an arrogant [insert colorful word here] to a self-sacrificing and courageous, romantic hero. The romance between Jessica and Lucius is hot; it’s passionate. The dynamic, back-and-forth the pair engages in throughout the novel sizzles and builds until the heart-pounding climax.

And if that’s not enough to convince you that Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is worth reading — consider my next statement. This is the book Twilight fans should read when they’ve finished those books & want something new to read, yet aren’t quite ready to move on. Lucius may not sparkle, but he’s brooding, moody and self-sacrificing enough to make you say, “Edward who?” … at least for a little while.

An additional kudos goes to Fantaskey for continuing the story of Lucius & Jessica with a light-hearted sequel available on her website for free.

Sara | Novel Novice

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