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

Well, a naïve high school girl falls in love with a vampire… wait. You’ve heard this one before? Well, it’s a little bit different this time. Exotic Lucius Vladescu shows up in Jessica Packwood’s country bumpkin hometown with some very high aspirations. You see, Lucius seems to feel that Jess was promised to be his bride. Jessica, of course, dismisses him as crazy while all her girlfriends go gaga for the handsome new guy in town. Unfortunately, Lucius is right. Jessica discovers that she and Lucius were betrothed to each other as infants. Despite that, she fights his claims (and charms) with all her might while trying to get the courage to talk to the boy she’s been crushing on. As you may have guessed, it starts as a Battle of the Boys as the two compete for her affection, and ends with a very clear answer for Jessica.

Jessica Packwood is literally the average girl next door. There’s nothing too extraordinary about her, except, well you know… The whole being betrothed to a vampire by birth parents who unbeknownst to her were also vampires. But aside from that, she’s just a girl who likes to ride horses. Lucius Vladescu, Jessica’s vampire fiancé, is like Edward Cullen from Transylvania. He’s supposed to be charming and handsome, and in my mind I gave him a heavy European accent, regardless of whether or not he was supposed to have one. However, I often found him to be very bossy and arrogant, and NOT someone I’d want to fall for. There are, of course, the other obligatory high school characters: Jessica’s best friend, her crush, and the obnoxious, stereotypical cheerleader that makes a play for Lucius.


  • Um…. there’s a hot vampire?

Ok, I have to be honest. I had a hard time finding any redeeming qualities about this book. I’m trying to be objective about it, but I’ve had it with the whole “high schooler falls for supernatural/mythical creature” storyline. I wanted to like it, I really did. The first quarter of the book, I had high hopes for it. I appreciated that Jess didn’t fall head-over-heels for the hot new kid in class, and she had very realistic reactions to what was going on. But then everything started to wear on me. Fantaskey’s humor and one-liners made me chuckle initially, but got old fast and just made me groan by the time I was halfway through. Jess began the novel as a strong character who was bursting with individuality. But by the end, she became an annoying, whiny teenager who reexamined her entire existence based on whether or not some boy liked her. And I just can’t be down with that. The story and characters don’t lack depth and complexity, but it wasn’t enough to make care about what happened to these characters. Needless to say, I will NOT be reading the sequel (Jessica Rules the Dark Side) when it comes out in January.



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