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

25 Jun

Series: Jessica, book #1

Published: February 1st 2009 by Harcourt

Details: Hardcover, 351 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

So I finally got around to read this vampire tale about Jessica who finds out that she is betrothed since birth to vampire Lucius of the dangerous Vladescu clan. And I’m glad I did, because this was a truly enjoyable read. Great dialogues and characters. A sequel to be published in Jan 2012.


A few chapters in:

So I’m finally starting this book. I say finally, because this book has been lying in my TBR pile for over a year! I don’t really know why it took me this long, all though I suspect it had something to do with that dorky and chic lit-sounding book title.

So why starting it now?

Well, it has surfaced as the clear winner in my poll of what book I should read next! Thanks again to all of you who voted!

I’m now a few chapters in. It opens when our heroine Jessica, who is a normal (or so she thinks) teenage girl, notices that she has a stalker, a tall, mysterious and handsome young man, who appears to be following her everywhere she goes.

It turns out that Lucius, as the young man (and stalker) is called, has come from Romania in order to follow-up on a treaty that was made before Jessica was born. A treaty that states that Jessica is to marry Lucius!

Apparently, Jessica’s real Romanian parents, as well as Lucius’, pertained to two powerful and royal vampire clans in Romania. The “marriage treaty” was made all those years ago in order to stabilize the ongoing rivalry between the two clans.

As you can imagine, Jessica has a hard time believing all this. She knew of course that she was adopted, but not much more than that.

I’ve just got to the part now where Lucius has moved in to the guest apartment of Jessica’s house. The two of them don’t really get along that well (yet) . Lucius is trying to blend into Jessica’s school as “the foreign exchange student”, but is failing big time. Not surprisingly, considering his tall stature, long black coat, thick Romanian accent and old-fashioned manners. Jessica is just trying to avoid him at all costs, I mean what else would you do with a guy who is claiming to be a vampire?

In short, I’m guessing I’m in for an exciting read as these two get to know each other better!

After finishing the book:

So I finished the book and I thought it was a really enjoyable read! I loved the witty dialogues and watching the developement of the main characters Jessica and Lucius. I especially liked the development of the character Jessica. She gradually transforms from an all American, insecure and quiet teen age girl to a strong-willed courageous vampire heiress during the course of the book. And I never saw it coming! It was that subtle, which is a huge kudos to Fantaskey.

Lucius as a character was intriguing as well, as he has that dark side lurking beneath the surface. He’s got a bit of the Edward Cullen problem going on. Doubting his own soul, believing he’s evil and destroyed for ever, trying desperately to protect his loved one from his dangerous world. Doing so by distancing himself from her.

Does it work?

Mostly, yes it does. Like I said, I was intrigued. I loved his charm and humor, and I loved his development too, from and arrogant and sarcastic prince burdened by traditions and rules, to a teen-age boy who just wants to live a little. I understood his efforts to push Jessica away, for the most part anyway, except for maybe the whole Faith subplot. I mean, was it really necessary to be messing around with Faith? I wasn’t too impressed by that side of him.

In fact, at one point during the Faith episode I wondered what the heck Jessica was doing persisting to be with him after all he put her through. I know I had been running the other direction long before then!

But okay, I know it’s fiction. And I know that Jessica deep down knew that it was all an act. In fact, she was the only one who believed so, which in the end warmed my heart.

The ending wrapped everything up so nicely, that I am wondering if I really want to go ahead and read the sequel Jessica Rules the Dark Side, which is to be published in January next year. I’m afraid that it may be another one of those originally planned stand alones which has been turned into a series to generate more revenue. Sorry Fantaskey, but I’ve been burnt before, see Body Finder Series.

However, I will keep an eye out for the reviews as the sequel is published, hoping that they prove me wrong!

14 Responses to “Review: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey”

  1. Chris May 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    Hope you’ll love it!!!
    Enjoy 🙂

    • tess May 26, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

      Thank you! I hope so too! 🙂

  2. jenika May 29, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    I LOVE this book!!!!

    • tess May 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

      That’s great to hear! 🙂

  3. jenika June 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    I am glad you enjoyed the book! In the author website there are a few extra chapters about the wedding of Jessica and Lucius… and in my mind that could have been an even better ending of the book. (I really advice you to read them).
    Anyway I don’t feel the same worries about Jessica rules the Dark side… I am going to read it anyway, and I have a good feeling about it.
    Some time ago I did this illustration about one of my favorite moment of the book, when Lucius tells Jessica who he really is.
    Here is the link where you can see it:

    I hope you will enjoy it!
    Thank you for your review!!!

    • tess June 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

      Wow, that illustration is amazing!! Really well done!
      I’ll definitely check out the extra chapters about the wedding, I wasn’t aware of that so thanks for letting me know!

  4. Chris June 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    I’m glad you like it, I feel like reading it again now 😀 I’ll check the extra chapters too!! And like you Tess, not sure if I’ll try the second one… wait and see… !!

    Jenika, your illustration is amazing, wow!! Would love to see more of it!!

    • tess June 27, 2011 at 8:06 am #

      Yeah, let’s wait and see about the sequel, hoping for great reviews!

  5. jenika June 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Hi Chris and Tess thank you for your kind words, I am very happy you enjoyed the illustration!
    Do read the wedding chapters….they are totally romantic!!! you won’t regret it!

  6. jenika September 7, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Today I started reading again this book for the i-don’t-count-it-even-moreth time and I couldn’t get it down until the end.
    I love Lucius and I like soooooooooo much his romance with Jessica.
    I really want to read the sequel. I have no idea if it will be wonderful as the first book but I have a good feeling… WWAAHHH!!! I want to read more about Jessica and (especially) Lucius!!!! Beth Fantaskey did a wonderful job!!!!

    • tess September 9, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

      Yes she definitely did an amazing job with these characters. It’s a great book 🙂

  7. jenika December 7, 2011 at 12:05 am #

    I read the sequel will be out in United Kingdom in January… I am really looking forward to it!!!!

  8. jenika February 5, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Hi Tess!
    I just finished reading the sequel “Jessica rules the Dark side” and it was a big disappointment.
    The first book, “Jessica guide to dating on the dark side” was one of my favorite stories ever, I gave it a full 5/5. I was really curious to read the sequel and I was expecting something really good.
    But I would give this book 3/5 or 2.5/5 or even less for a few reasons:

    1 – My favorite character, the vampire prince Lucius Vladescu was not really important as in the first book (so this already took off a lot of interest in the story) as he is staying in prison for half of the story

    2 – Jessica is missing strength for half of the book and having a heroine who doesn’t have a clue is quite boring. After a while she grows a bit of strength and the story becomes interesting but not enough to blew me away as happened in the first book…

    3 – one of the character of the first book here is depicted in totally different light but in a very bad way and looks like a bit too forced (i can’t say who to avoid spoilers) and I really didn’t like it…
    I give an example: in Harry Potter Saga professor Severus Snape character is changing with every book: in a book we believe he is a villain, in another he is seen as a sort of hero… and it is done in absolutely well developed and very credible way… but in Jessica Rules the Dark Side it is not. The changing of this character for me was not quite credible…

    4- Secondary characters that might have been very interesting (like Mandy or Lucius’s cousin, Raniero) became quite shallow and their romance not well developed…

    5- The letters Lucius wrote to his uncle Vasile in the first book were very funny and very pleasant to read… but in the second book the letters Lucius write from the prison to his cousin Raniero are some kind of copy of the first book and are not well developed and a bit boring…

    Overall I have the feeling this sequel was written with not the same care and love of the first book…
    What a disappointment. If I never read the first book I might have enjoyed this much more but after reading something soooooo good in the first book I was expecting much much better.
    In the facebook page of the author I read many positive comments on this book but to me it wasn’t so good.
    I still love Jessica and Lucius and in case there is new material on them I will give it a go but I wouldn’t recommend this specific book.

    • tess February 5, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      Oh wow, I’m so sad to hear that! I really hoped that this sequel would escape that dreaded “middle-book-syndrome”, i.e. lacking in story and development, and being plain repetitive. Very sad to hear that. I can hear from your comments that I probably won’t like it either. I loved Lucius as well, and also the strength of Jessica’s character, and if both those elements are missing, then I think I’ll be skipping this one too. Thanks so much for letting me know! 🙂

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