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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

on 12 August 2009
Jessica has always known she is adopted. Her parents, the Packwoods, have told her the story of how they, as anthropologists, were studying her family in Romania when they were attacked. Jessica's birth parents begged the Packwoods to take their daughter to safety. Eventually, Jessica's birth parents and many others of her family are killed and the Packwoods return to the United States with a new baby.

Jessica hates the story. She hates the fact that her parents were the kind of freaks that anthropologists wanted to study in the first place and how her birth name sounds so ethnic and strange. Antanasia - what kind of name is that?

Jessica starts to get a little freaked out when she sees a strange and mysterious guy watching her from afar. At the same time, she starts hearing her birth name whispered in the air. Antanasia... When the same strange and mysterious guy shows up at school, she doesn't know what to think. It turns out he is an exchange student named Lucius Vladescu. When Jessica points him out to her mother and tells her how he gives off a weird vibe, she doesn't seem too surprised to see him. Jessica's mother even invites him home for dinner to talk.

All of this happens within the first 17 pages of the book.

Jessica (Antanasia) is a Romanian vampire princess who was betrothed to Lucius when they were born. The promise of their marriage has held their two clans, the Dragomirs and the Vladescus, in a tentative peace for years. If the wedding doesn't take place, there will be a large-scale war which will most likely lead to the destruction of the Dragomirs.

Jessica has a difficult time believing any of this. She has a hard time believing anything that can't be explained logically. Lucius attempts to win her over, while Jessica attempts to live her life like normal - pretending she isn't a vampire princess.

Both Jessica and Lucius go through major changes in the novel. They have time to examine their true feelings about family and duty. Beth Fantaskey does an excellent job keeping the reader guessing until the very end. You will constantly be reassessing your opinion about how the story will end. Personally, I found myself getting very nervous as I was getting toward the end of the book and I still thought there was so much that needed to happen.

Luckily, Fantaskey does a brilliant job tying up loose ends. JESSICA'S GUIDE TO DATING ON THE DARK SIDE could easily be the beginning of a series (I don't know if there will be a sequel or not), but it can also work as a great stand-alone novel.

JESSICA'S GUIDE TO DATING ON THE DARK SIDE has become one of my new favorite young adult vampire novels. I know I'll be reading it again.

Reviewed by: Karin Librarian
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on 20 August 2010
This book has been doing the rounds of the blogosphere for a while, and between the enthuasiastic reviews and the intriguing cover, I thought it was about time I joined the fray and bought a copy!

The novel, one of the YA/adult crossover books that have been so popular of late, is a delicious paranormal romance just begging to be devoured on a rainy day, curled up cosily, looking out at the stormy skies. It is narrated by Jessica Packwood, a seventeen year-old girl who was adopted from Europe as a child and has been living happily on her family's Pennsylvania organic vegan farm ever since. One morning a new 'foreign exchange student', Lucius Vladescu, arrives in town and Jessica is almost positive that she has heard him whispering her 'old name'. When he reveals that he is a Romanian vampire prince and that he has come to claim her, princess of his rival clan, as his betrothed, she is certain that he's insane. Until strange things start happening, and she realises that perhaps Antanasia Dragomir has been dormant inside her all along...

The book is fluffy to be sure, with a definite hint of 'The Princess Diaries' as Jessica is slowly introduced to her heritage, but it also draws heavily on literary tradition. Stoker's 'Dracula' is both utilised and satirised, with the vampires' roots in the Carpathian mountains, in gothic mansions, surrounded by forests populated by howling wolves, offset by the stark contrast of American teenage life, with its carnivals and basketball and school classes. Lucius, the charismatic antihero, tall, dark and handsome, with his devilish mockery, tormented history and supreme arrogance, combines the most enigmatic, dangerous and appealing elements of Heathcliff - something that is picked up directly in the book.

I really enjoyed this novel. There were brief moments when the pace slowed - particularly where Jessica's parents appeared at length - but when Lucius and Jessica were together, the tension sizzled. The romance between them was intense without ever veering into the explicit, and Jessica's wry narrative and the sparky dialogue was often very amusing. It would make a fantastic movie, in fact! I'd recommend it to fans of YA vampire novels, as well as fans of paranormal romance in general - and I've ordered Fantaskey's next book, 'Jekel Loves Hyde', already!
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Beth Fantaskey has a beautifully funny way of writing that really had me giggling at times. But when things turned serious, dramatic, dangerous or something more I could feel her style and language changing with them; sending chills and goose bumps up and down my arms, and blushes to my cheeks at other times.

Most female protagonists who find out that there is something paranormal about their life fight it for a little, but come to accept and embrace it soon enough. Jessica isn't quite like that. She fought tooth and nail to remain welded to her normal reality and to get the gorgeously unnerving Lucius out of it. I loved her to-the-point hilarious bluntness and how she just was not going to give two jots about what kind of prince Lucius thought himself to be.
With such a girl on his hands I actually felt a bit sorry for the annoyingly arrogant and drop dead gorgeous Lucius.

Both characters were very entertaining and I liked them straight away as they wound each other up, but what was even better was watching them dig deeper to find what actually lay beyond the blunt humour and the arrogance.

I really enjoyed how the plot seemed to escalate and slowly move to a bigger picture that at the beginning was completely put-a-side. As Jessica grew, developed, matured and came to understand things that she had initially ignored, the storyline came to encompass factors I had completely left out of the equation. This only added to the fantastic twists Beth Fantaskey devised building into a rather unexpected crescendo.
The initial humour with which I was introduced to Beth Fantaskey's world was in stark contrast with the darkness with which I left it, and believe me this only made it more intriguing.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side was absolutely great. One moment laughing, the next brooding, then gobsmacked, followed by blushing... The unexpected events just kept on coming. I vaguely recall being asked by the nurse to put it down so I could go to theatre for my op. When I asked for a little more time, she gave me a light sedative and yanked the book out of my hands! Although I would have willingly put it down, had I known I was going to get jabbed, it would still not have been easy.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side started fairly simply and lighthearted, and I admit that at the beginning I thought I had things pretty much figured out. By the end a lot more was at stake than I had initially thought and there was nothing much lighthearted left about it. Darkness and cold seemed to reign, causing me to think that actually Jessica was going to need much more than a Guide to Date the Dark Side. She was going to need an encyclopaedic manual, courage and as much help as she could get!

If you liked this I would consider reading "Finding Sky" and "Stealing Phoenix" by Joss Stirling. I would also recommend the Soul Screamer series by Rachel Vincent.
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on 20 February 2010
Witty and at times ironic, 'Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side' is a fantastic example of an original vampire story in a world full of cookie-cutter Twilight clones.

The characters were realistic and their development was interesting to follow. Jessica, adopted by a pair of 'alternative' vegans after the death of her Romanian parents, is a quintessential nerd - a bullied mathlete who hides her bruised emotions behind a smart mouth and an almost obsessive reliance on logic. Lucius insists that he is her long-lost vampire fiance, and his clashes with Jessica always brought a smile to my face. Yet as the novel progresses, we learn that Lucius hides a troubled past behind his arrogance, and Jessica discovers that she must now fight to save the person she had previously thought she didn't care about. Lucius' letters to his uncle in particular were an interesting device, as they allowed us to get an insight into what Lucius was thinking and feeling, rather than focusing completely on Jessica's misguided perception of events. That made the story and it's tumultuous unfolding even more sweet, and allowed us to really get a good feel for Lucius as a character.

I've noticed that a lot of comparisons are made between this book and the ever-popular Twilight - however, beyond the fact that both books deal with vampires, the similarities stop there. Lucius is no Edward Cullen, and Jessica is no Bella, swooning endlessly over her vampire. Jessica doesn't even believe Lucius' claims to be a vampire for the first half of the novel, and by the time she figures it out the game has changed (to use a metaphor from the book), and she has to 'toughen up' and adapt to the strange new circumstances she encounters.

The writing style flowed easily, and the narrative was well-balanced between tension and humour; I found that I didn't want to put this book down! In particular, the snippets from 'Growing Up Undead' were hilariously appropriated from the numerous guides designed to help teens through adolescence.

In short, I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a fresh take on the often-stale paranormal genre. I will most definitely be ordering myself a copy of Fanteskey's next novel, 'Jekel Loves Hyde' when it comes out in a few months.
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on 21 August 2010
I would honestly give this book 3 1/2 stars, what made me pick 4 over 3 was the exceptional writting as it lead from Jessica AKA Antanasia a rual all american teen that rides horses and isn't perfect, to Lucian a dangerous vampire prince ready to swoop up his bride and the power their kingdoms together can control. Lucian writes to his wicked uncle back in Romania and the letters were the icing on the cake laced with old style words that ozzed with a time of class and sophistication. It showed two cultures as they clashed, adapted and converged in to a page turning climax.
I really enjoyed the fresh take on vampire romance and the symbolism of the classic Wuthering Heights one of my favorite books of heartless, cruel, bitter, evil love as Fantaskey writes. I always love reading books that inspire myself and others to other books and music.
I must admit there is a great heroine in this mythic tale than what is hip right now (The swooning, edgy, clumbsy, wimpy girl that wins her dark diabolical undead) I like this girl she is portrayed with strong values, she is older (17 turning 18) therefore old enough to make adult chocies and she actually isn't buying into the vampire prince's confession, that he betrothed to her and she is a vampire princess he is sent to fetch for power. She just wants to be a normal teen and maybe someday marry a hunky guy-next-door type, go to college and fall in love the old fashion way. I was refreashing to read a YA book where the teen actually respects her hippy granola parents. I'm not saying she is a saint she has raging hormones and secrets being revealed to her that most normal teens don't go through.
Isn't it fun though when a character so driven to go one way finds out there is a life for them so much richer and fuller than what they ever planned if they are willing to take the ultimate chance? Entertaining page turing read.
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on 13 August 2012
I've recently gone off vampires, mainly thanks to my past obsession with Twilight and the cringe factor that the movies brought with it (I've turned closet fan now!!). However there are a few selected books that centre around vampires - Vampire Academy for one, that I do enjoy. Now, I can add this fantastic book by Beth Fantaskey to that list.

Senior year. A time to worry about boys (namely to cute farmer boy who keeps making eyes at you), bullies in the form of antagonising boys and evil cheerleaders and finding out that you are a Romanian vampire princess, betrothed to a hot vampire prince. At least, that's what happens to the always thought she was your average American teenager, Jessica Packwood.

I loved this novel because it was light but intense at the same time, it was humorous in all the right places and I do still have a soft spot for gorgeous vampires, even if they have a weird (but attractive) name like Lucius. Whilst it begins like any other vampire style novel, or like something off the Vampires section from FanFiction (guilty as charged for having spent an eternity on FF during aforementioned vampire addiction), Fantaskey has managed to create an interesting and somewhat humorous novel about what it's like to be a vampire princess. I almost felt as if it were a kick in the teeth at all the other vampire novels out there, a spoof, but it was spoof that has been brilliantly written.

Our two main characters are amazing, although I did find Lucius quite wooden at times. Jessica is normal, which is great. She doesn't believe in vampires, and a good majority of the beginning of the book is spent with her completely adamant - like any other sane person - that vampires do not exist. At all. Lucius's fascination with Jessica is very much alive throughout the whole novel, and we are shown this through the letters he writes back to Romania (anyone up for a Eurotrip btw?), and the change we see in these letters as to his feelings for her. The book is written from Jessica's POV, so we only see her side of what's happening, but these letters are a real insight into what Lucius feels and how these emotions affect the choices he makes in regards to Jessica and his impending marriage to her. Lucius' lack of knowledge about Western culture and his hatred of the colour pink also helped cement my decision that this book was a great read - "It's just red's sorry, weak cousin." Damn straight!

The only disappointment I had in this book was that the ending was done and over before you knew it. While the beginning and the middle panned out nice and slowly at the right pace, as soon as the major conflict came, I was setting down the book having been finished. It felt very rushed, as if Fantaskey had decided that she couldn't be bothered writing any more and just wanted to be over and done with the whole thing. I've seen this happen a lot with authors, where they just fizzle out with the ending. However, in saying that, it was only a minor disappointment - this book was fantastic, and I'm so glad to see that another book has been written and will be released this year.
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VINE VOICEon 21 January 2011
From the title you can pretty much guess this is going to be in first person narrative from the point of view of Jessica (yes I know I am stating the obvious). Jessica is what I would classify as utterly 'normal' a 'typical' American, shy teenager - that is until Luke enters her life.

As I was reading I kept picturing Luke as a teenage Angel from Buffy - the whole vampire with a soul angle gets me every time *swoon*

I did find it a little difficult to believe that Jessica's parents were able to conceal her true genetic history from her. Although Jessica did make it easy for them by wanting to completely block out any memories of her childhood.

There is an additional element within the story of nature versus nurture. Showing the differences in upbringing between Jessica and Luke, the repercussions in the way they view the world and interact with others was very noticeable. The portrayal of Luke's Uncles treatment of him was brutal.

The narrative is interspersed with letters from Luke to his Uncle; enabling the reader to see the story from his point of view. I adored his dual role as a Romanian Vampire Prince and an American Basketball star. This dual nature really shone through in the letters. Inspiring quite a few lol moments.

The relationship between Luke and Jessica builds slowly; both of them aiding the other on a journey of self discovery. Circumstances and other people keep getting in their way which in turn affects their progress. I loved the character development throughout the story. There is an ingenious subplot woven into the narrative which isn't completely revealed until near the end. All the threads come together to a really explosive ending.

The imagery was very realistic although unfavourable to vegetarian food, lol. There were a few gory scenes, (I dont like gore *shudders*) but I was able to repress the imagery *sniggers*.

I really enjoyed this book, getting to know the characters and see their interactions was brilliant. Plus how could I not love the caring, hot, male vampire. Perfect piece of escapism.
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on 29 June 2010
When I saw this book I wanted to buy it and I was most deffinaly not disapoined! The Author has put a interesting twist on the vampire genre, making it both different and exiting.

At fist glance this will most probably sound a little strange and you may dismiss it as 'just another Twilight wannabe', but what makes this so different is Jessica (or Anastasia as her vampire name) acts! She is so dismissive of Lucius at the beginning and he, being a rich and powerful vampire price, can't understand. At all. These two facts make for some very hillarous conversations.

Jessica Packwood is starting senior year, and she has life all planed out. Lose five pounds, get together some more with Jake, and school work - in that order. No where does being told she is a vampire princess last of her family, betrothed to Lucius, a vampire prince at birth, fit in to that plan. No-way. But when Lucius a handsome yet very strange boy turns up at school and starts watching Jess, she is a little un-nerved. And when she points him out to her mum ( well adopted mum due to the fact her own parents where killed ), nothing surprises her more that her mother slamming on the brakes getting out the car, talking then shaking hands with Lucius. The only explanation Jess gets is 'Me you and you're father need to talk later'. But later doesn't happen, and that's when the fun starts so to speak!

This book is not only filled with suspense but it is full of humour. The way that it has been written, mostly in fist person by Jessica but also in the way we see what Lucas writes to his uncle in letters, lets us see both's side of the story. Lucius's take on the modern world is as funny as is his huge ego.

I enjoyed this book tremendously, a nice light hearted read. Over all this book is funny, with a different twist on Vampires. It takes one very normal modern girl and changes her into a Vampire princess.

Hope this review was helpful and sorry for any mistakes!

Happy reading :)
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on 16 January 2011
Summary: Jessica Packwood deals in logic - Math is her favourite subject. Lucius Vladescu is a vampire, raised to rule, so when he turns up at her house with the admission that he is her vampire betrothed, things don't get off to a great start. Used to getting his own way and knowing what is at stake should he fail, Lucius is determined to convince her that they're meant to be together. Jessica, sweet-seventeen and never-been-kissed, is uncertain whether she can commit to a lifetime with a man she barely knows, but the choice is taken from her when it is revealed that there is more than meets the eye to their betrothal, forged by rival families.

Oh. My. God.
Eloquent, right? I will love this book forever because for the past few months I've been suffering a feeling of detachment with most of the books I've read, even the ones I've enjoyed. Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side fixed this; it made me want to immediately buy Beth Fantaskey's other current release, Jekel Loves Hyde, devour it, and then possibly alternate between the two until Jess's sequel `Jessica Rules the Dark Side' is published later this year.

It took about forty pages to really get into the story, in which time I am sorry to say I had almost written the book off as a flippant nod to the vampire trend. Nothing seemed very serious and the short chapters just reinforced this idea, being only about two pages long. Lucius seemed like the stereotype of the dominant male vampire and Jessica of the girl who's driven by logic and won't believe anything that can't be proved.

Oh how wrong I was! Lucius' upbringing is made apparent and it becomes more and more obvious why he acts the way he does. His formal letters to his uncle, especially the later ones, show just how much he was influenced by his family and acts as a sharp contrast to the developing well of emotion he feels for Jess. Some of the things he said were so emotive that it was difficult not to feel complete sympathy for him even when he was having a less than stellar moment. Jess is the triumph of development though; transforming from a self-conscious high school student who hates her hair and loves Maths, into a young woman who is proud of herself and capable of standing up for what she believes in.

Compared to the amount of characterisation for Jess and Lucius, the secondary characters suffer slightly from being stereotypical; it's true that at every school you're going to have the spoilt bitch and the bullies, but it would have been nice to see a different side to them. The plot on the other hand, does not suffer at all. I imagined the story was going to be just about Lucius' attempts at winning Jess over, but after a twist that I really did not see coming, there is so much more going on that the already swift plot picked up even more and had me racing through the pages.

The writing is simple but addictive, the speech full of real and tangible emotion,and after the first few chapters the brevity merely increased the pacing of the story and made it that much more heart-pounding.

Disguised as a simple bit of froth, this book is funny, romantic, heart-breaking and full of surprises. Don't let the cute title fool you, this is one I would recommend for anyone who likes their romance (and their heroes) sweet and hot and just a little bit forbidden.
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on 14 November 2010
jessica's guide to dating on the dark side i sooooo good i love it. it i funny and romantic and sweet but has drama to. at first i thought that lucius was too arrogant and full of him self but he grows on you and you end up totally loving him. and with jessica you really care for her and i love the fact that the book is written from her point of view but there are lucius letters that are written from lucius's point of view whitch i also love.

jessica is a teenage girl that was adopted from romania and brought to pennsylvania when she was little so she has grown up in a american culture and o ye she's a vampire princess. in the very first chapter you are introduced to lucius who is jessica's fiancée from birth. he is a romanian vampire prince. they are meant to get married to fulfill a pact to bring peace to there two clans. at first jess is so not intrested in lucius or the pact but she begins to feel for lucius however there is faith the popular cheerleader that is out to steal lucius.

there is the love triangle thing going on in the book but it isn't the main part it's just a little bit of conflict put in to add to the story. the main thing is the building will they won't they romance between jess and lucius.
also if people like this book there is the wedding of jess and lucius's on beth fantaskey's website. they are both really good so i recommend that you all read them. if you are fan fan of Y.A vampire books you will love this.
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