I'm stressing over the star rating I've given this book. As of right now I'm not entirely sure I won't change it. That being said, I really do like this book.
I picked up Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Darkside thinking I was diving into a parody of Twilight. It didn't take long to discover how wrong I was. While both books have vampires in them that's where the similarity ends.
Jessica Packwood, 4-H club member/mathlete-extraordinaire, is the adopted daughter of two of the more notorious vegans/environmentalists in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Jessica is pretty in an unconventional way, though she's too short, too curvy, and has a head full of wild, hard-to-tame curls.
Needless to say she's never been the most popular girl at school.
Over summer Jessica managed to catch the eye of Jake Zinn, one of the best looking guys in her graduating class. Things finally seem to be looking up for Jessica; she's going to enjoy her senior year.
That is until Lucius Vladescu--a handsome, but incredibly egotistical Romanian exchange student--shows up. And he has some news for Jessica.
Turns out Jessica--or rather, Antanasia Dragomir--is betrothed to Lucius, and has been since they were babies. Her birth parents entered the pact with Lucius' parents in hopes that Lucius and Antanasia's marriage would unify their clans, bring peace to their people.
Lucius is a prince. Jessica/Antanasia is a princess.
According to Lucius--and, strangely enough, her adoptive parents--Jessica is a vampire. So is Lucius. Of course Jessica rejects the notion--there is no such thing as vampires--rejects the pact, the betrothal. Her parents, Lucius--they're crazy!
Jessica tries to send Lucius on his merry way. But Lucius isn't going to give up that easily--he can't--and this is when things get truly interesting.
(Okay, I realize I'm not good at summarizing. And since I typed all that out I'm not going to delete it. But, just so you know I've only roughly summarized the first seven chapters--there's sixty more where that came from).
This book is pretty good. While the ending seems a little rushed, I don't totally mind. The story isn't particularly deep but it is clear the author meant to incorporate a message for teenage girls about self-esteem, self-confidence--overall, I'd she did an okay job with that.
The love story? Vampires aside, I'd say it's pretty realistic--they don't hit it off at first; we don't have to deal with any of that anti-climatic 'love at first sight' garbage. While Jessica finds Lucius physically attractive, and secretly admits to herself that she's intrigued by Lucius' darkside, she is repelled by his personality--Lucius thinks he's better then sliced bread. And anyway Jessica's more interested in the very nice--very normal--Jake Zinn from down the street.
Beth Fantaskey, the author does a great job gradually building their relationship in a way that makes sense. There is flirtation and teasing (and I need to add that Ms. Fantaskey is quite good at writing these exchanges in an exciting way; had me holding my breath in anticipation, no lie). And while sexuality is very present in this book, there is absolutely no sex.
The reason I gave this book 4 stars is because I really enjoyed the story. I liked Jessica and Lucius (he sort of grows on you, like mold) and I liked their interactions even more. Lucius' letters home to Romania are quite amusing to say the least. And I'm satisfied with how it ended, even though now as I type this I can't help but think of a few loose ends that were not tied up. It makes me think there might be a sequel (not that there needs to be, or really, should be) or at the very least the author left one or two things open so she might write more stories contained in this universe, but with new characters.
Dang, this is one really long review. Sorry.