Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth FantaskeyJessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica Rules the Dark Side

byBeth Fantaskey

Paperback | January 8, 2013

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I should sue the people who designed the My Little Pony Crystal Rainbow Castle I played with in kindergarten. They led me to believe that castles were filled with rainbows and cupcakes and pastel-pink furniture. Not stone and fire and . . . blood. Eighteen-year-old Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her new vampire husband, Lucius. But when he's charged with murder, Jessica's suddenly on her own. She knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius's time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is-and whom she can trust-before it's too late?
Beth Fantaskey lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. She wrote Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side and Jekel Loves Hyde . Visit her website at .
Title:Jessica Rules the Dark SideFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.79 inPublished:January 8, 2013Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:054785174X

ISBN - 13:9780547851747


Rated 5 out of 5 by from More enjoyable than twilight I actually enjoyed this book more than the famed Twilight novels. I finished reading it in one night because I was so hooked on the plot. I can not wait to get a hold of the next book in the series.
Date published: 2017-11-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great sequel! I loved the first book and the second one lives up to it (thankfully!) what I really liked about this one while reading was Jessica’s development as a character grows up. Dramatically. Considering she now has to rule and take Lucius place due to the circumstances she had to learn how to take control and she does it gracefully. The plot itself wasn’t so bad although there could have been more substance to it. The reader already has a hunch as to who is behind the entire plot - a little mystery would have been appreciated and would have kept the plot a little more exciting. So the predictability of it sort of dampens the enjoyment of the book. Nevertheless it’s the characters that keep the book going. Jessica and Lucius still have that great chemistry together. It’s the light banter Lucius has with Raniero that was also fun to read throughout the story. Fun to read and it’s light, worth the time - from what I know there’s no more after this one. So to give the duology a nice closing, it’s a good one. (A story about Mindy would be great though.) Bonus points to the cover. Love it!
Date published: 2017-09-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from nice surprise to be honest i didnt think this book would be any good, turns out its actually a really good read!! fun, witty, and just overall really well
Date published: 2017-08-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Jessica's Guide To Dating On The Dark Side I loved how complicated Lucious is, a dreamy gentleman yet also a jerky boy, my issue here is that I would have liked a more drawn out ending. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-07-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprising Wasn't expecting much when I bought this, but was thoroughly entertained!
Date published: 2017-06-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh Nothing special or memorable.
Date published: 2017-06-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good YA. Written at the peak of Twilight popularity, this YA novel is not fantastic but not terrible either. An enjoyable read.
Date published: 2017-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book! #plumreview I bought this book a couple years ago it is honestly one of my favourites. It's one of those books that no matter what happens, when you decide to reread it (which you will), it is still as great as when you did the first time!
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Title misleading but give it a try!!! LOVE it! The book was amazing! It left me wanting for more. I didn’t expect to love it so more because of the title. My first thoughts when I saw the title was that it was another cheesy vampire book but I was so wrong and I am gland. Don’t judge a book from its cover and title! The storyline was interesting so far from most vampire books. I liked that you got into the story from the very first page. The story has passion, sadness, violence, and politics....things that were combined really well, and seemed to bond nicely together. The characters were all well developed especially Lucius. At the beginning you see him as the vampire prince he is, taught and manly but afterwards you get a glimpse of the boy who struggles with fate along with Jessica. This is a debut novel for the author and her writing was refreshing and easy going. I would recommend this to anyone who like vampires.
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Untapped Potential I had high hopes for this novel because it sounded so interesting and the second one really drew me in. Sadly, I was let down by the plot and the characters. These are my major pet peeves when it comes to books, yet I still read on, captivated. What I really enjoyed from the book was the story line. I liked how it sounded but when I read the actual story, it didn't reallly click with me. There's just something missing from the writing that makes the story a bit rough. The whole foreign background was something I really enjoyed because we get a little taste of the different cultures and Lucius makes it a fun point every now and then. The execution of the story failed to meet my expectations. There really wasn't much to do with the vampire theme in the book. When there were talks of the supernatural, the main character, Jessica, laughs it off every time because she doesn't believe it. When she did believe in vampires, the author made it completely dramatic. More dramatic than what I can take, and that pushes the drama into unrealistic. The characters didn't really click with me either. Jessica pissed me off majority of the time and Lucius seemed too posh and proper all the time. I get that he's a foreign vampire prince, but liven up a little! The only time he remotely sounded like a regular teenager was in his letters and those were rare. The story has potential but the writing is very rough and unrealistic for my taste. Lucius was way too foreign even though he is, but he makes it a point every single time to remind everyone that he is from Romania. Jessica on the other hand, is so stubborn. She doesn't want to believe that vampires and the supernatural exist, but once her emotions come into play she starts believing it? That's a typical example of someone thinking with their heart and no logicial decisions come out from this.
Date published: 2012-03-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Infamous Dragomirs. There were a lot of positive reviews for this book so I needed to check it out. I’m gonna say that it is definitely a good book. Jessica and Lucius’s relationship isn’t the ordinary “love at first sight”. They were betrothed to each other at birth, destined to marry in order to combine two powerful families in the hopes of achieving peace. The whole idea of it is crazy, it's what attracted me to the story. Having to marry someone just to create an alliance between two powerful families is definitely an interesting and scary thought. Like I mentioned, Lucius and Jessica don’t instantly like each other. In fact, Jessica wants nothing to do with Lucius…which I think is hilarious. You could argue that it’s somewhat cliché’, with the whole “girl hates guy, guy tries to sway the girl’s opinion”…but it’s done in a way that isn’t annoying and the back story and family history/conflicts keeps it interesting. All in all, I gave this story 3 out of 5. I really liked the book, and I’ll definitely be reading the sequel right away….it just wasn’t a story that I was ripping through to figure out what would happen next. It wasn’t as exciting as it could have been. Certain scenes were somewhat anticlimactic and I was disappointed with the lack of response in some scenes. Random: This story reminded me of “The Vampire Academy” series, which dealt with a diminishing Dragomir family vampire line. In that series Lissa Dragomir was the last of her family line, and in this story Jessica (Antanasia Dragomir) is also the last living descendent of her royal Dragomir family. It was kind of weird the similarities between the two books. It makes me wonder if there actually was a Dragomir family that each of the authors researched to make their stories more realistic. If you haven’t checked out “The Vampire Academy” series you definitely need to. It’s great.
Date published: 2012-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The book was amazing! It left me wanting for more. I didn’t expect to love it so more because of the title. My first thoughts when I saw the title was that it was another cheesy vampire book but I was so wrong and I am gland. Don’t judge a book from its cover and title! The storyline was interesting so far from most vampire books. I liked that you got into the story from the very first page. The story has passion, sadness, violence, and politics....things that were combined really well, and seemed to bond nicely together. The characters were all well developed especially Lucius. At the beginning you see him as the vampire prince he is, taught and manly but afterwards you get a glimpse of the boy who struggles with fate along with Jessica. This is a debut novel for the author and her writing was refreshing and easy going. I would recommend this to anyone who like vampires.
Date published: 2011-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow completely unexpected. I decided to read this book because it was recommended to me and when I looked online I saw all these people giving it great reviews, and somehow I still had my doubts. The cover of this book made it seem like I was going into a Diary of a 14 year old and so i braced myself. Not the case at all! She is in fact 17 going on 18 and this was not some princess diaries novel. This was in fact fantastic. Much like Wuthering Height, which was mentioned in the novel, you learn to hate and love Lucius. Jessica seems like a nice girl throughout the entire novel but she learns that sometimes "nice" just won't cut it. I thought I had this book pinned down and could predict what would happen nice but that never happened. So many things happened throughout this book and yes maybe during the last chapter I could predict what was going to happen but even then there were many twist and turns up until that point that left me guessing. The best part...there seems to be a little Twilight in there with Lucius not being able to be with or without Jess. It kept me glued to it. So now I am about to read the short story, I guess you would call it, that the author has on her website about what happens in between this book and the next. And oh yes I will be buying this one for my own collection and buying the next one when it comes out. Ah....Romance.
Date published: 2011-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great I had to finish this book on the same day this is how much I LOVED it. I actually read this book 2 times back to back. It also made me cried. It's actually interesting from the start to the end and you just want to know what will happen next . This is a keeper. Enjoy!
Date published: 2011-02-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mmmmmm Meh But LIke!!!! So I don’t even know where to begin, I heard great things about this book. Therefore, no brainer, I was really excited to read it. Let’s say I was all kinds of disappointed, and for crazy reasons. I thought this book was a teen romance, and I thought Jessica would be using her guide to date, yet there was no dating and approximately two usage of the so-called GUIDE. It’s Jessica Packwood’s senior year of high school and she just spotted a weird but sexy looking boy by the trees, eyeing her like no tomorrow. The creep factor is high, when he shows up in her class and claims they are to be married, and that she is a Romanian princess, straight-jacket much. One thing is clear Lucius Vladescu clearly is hellaciously hot and thinks he is a vampire. Nice! Lucius is on a mission to win his princess and bring her home, clearly, though she is way too much of an American teenager and lacks the up-standings of a lady. All that aside he needs to bring Jessica home (prefers to call her Antanasia) but his princess is proving difficult and teenage American life is very odd. As the saying goes “when in Rome”, and that’s exactly what Lucius does, and he does it in style and he ruffles a few feathers. I must say even through my disappointment I was very surprised by this book, this is no teenage fluff and it is quite intense. I really loved Lucius, he was intelligent and dark and the things he said were the highlight of the book. His letters to his uncle describing living in America was really hilarious, and his selfishness when it came to other people I totally loved. Nothing says prince like complete disregard for other people’s feelings. Low point, the title. There is no guide and there is no dating, she looked at her guide maybe twice and that’s all it was about, unless you count that, it spends a majority of the time under her pillow. Low point number 2 Jessica; I found her annoying and like 12, only wants things when other people get it. Low point number 3, town folks correction town teenagers so supremely ridiculi. Otherwise, I liked it but only for Lucius he lit my fire and I would marry him in heartbeat.
Date published: 2010-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from oddly adictive "jessicas guide to dating on the darkside", has a strange, addiction to it and a very different story line and characters than many vampire books this 20th century. My favorite, arrogant, rude, yet annoyingly charming vampire prince Lucious, is a young vampire of royal blood sent to fulfill the pact with the Dragomirs and the Vladescus. this is a thrilling, well written and Strangely addictive vampire novel, by Beth Fantaskey. A highly reccomended book, though some may not enjoy the read.
Date published: 2010-05-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Big Disappointment !! Everyone was recommending this one to me so I was so excited when it finally showed up in my mailbox. I was so disappointed! I didn't like the characters and didn't think they had any chemistry. I really hated Lucius and his attempts at getting the girl. By the end I really didn't care if they got together or not. I had a really hard time finishing it.
Date published: 2010-03-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Join the Dark Side? Certainly! Jessica lives a normal life in a normal town and she has normal wishes. She wants to have a boyfriend, hang out with her friends and live like every other teenager. Then Lucius shows up telling her she's vampire royalty and if they don't marry it will start a vampire war that will pave all the streets of the world in human blood. Not exactly the most romantic of proposals... The storyline flows nicely and the secondary characters are given enough richness to make them memorable throughout. Jessica has a good character personality, I like that in the story she delves into some of the less the favourable personality traits some other female characters never even scratch. Lucius' personality is at once believeable and a bit over the top in some instances. In the novel some chapters are written as Lucius writing a letter to his uncle about his progress with Jessica and in those letters, witty as they may be, his aristocratic attitude becomes like a slap in the face to me. When he's written outside those letters he seems much more believeable as an out of his element aristocrat. The title threw me for a loop. I thought the story would involve more of Jessica relating how she was dating Lucius and the lessons she felt other girls dating vampires might want to consider learning. It was nothing of the sort and I can't see any connection between the title and the content of the story. The ending of this one seemed to come to a resolution far to swiftly in my opinion, there were some instances wherein I would tend to think it was rushed. This is the major reason for what kept this one from receiving a fourth maple leaf rating. In overall, a decent read.
Date published: 2010-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An entertaining story that will keep you captivated! An entertaining story that will keep you captivated! Jessica Packwood is a normal teenager. She’s finishing up high school, working at her adopted parents farm. She goes through life like everyone else, working away for the future. She’s a very realistic person, everything she knows can be solved by science or math. Though that changes one day. While waiting for the bus, she see’s someone standing across the street. Creeped out she jumps on the bus once it arrives, though she swears she heard her old name “Antanasia”. When she arrives at school, she sees him again. He is tall, handsome and powerful. When he speaks he takes command of everyone. His name is Lucius Vladescu. She goes through the day trying to ignore him, though he arrives at her mom’s work. Later that night Lucius is invited over for dinner, so they can explain something to Jessica. They explain that Lucius is really a vampire prince and she is a vampire princess! They were promised to each other at birth so their vampire clan can at long last be at peace. Jessica refuse to accept this. She refuses to accept that her parents her were vampires, because it’s just not rational. Lucius stays with her family at the farm so he can “court” her. The problem? She hates him. She finds him annoying and a show off. Though he stays, she starts to see a different side to him, which he closes off to her. He shows her that it’s okay to be herself, and how to be a powerful, domineering presence. I really didn’t think this book would be so intense. With a tag like “The undead can really screw up your senior year” I really though it was going to be more like a fluff romance. Though it was not. Lucius and Jessica’s relationship grows constantly in the book, to intense measures. You can really feel for the characters, feel what they are going through. Beth Fantaskey did a fantastic job of bringing this book to life. She took something that could’ve been nothing but fluff and made it into something more. This book deserves more then a once over glance. Great book!! 5 stars!!
Date published: 2010-02-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from On the Light Side This Young Adult offering by Fantaskey does something that I find few YA books can do successfully, and that is bridge the gap and appeal to older readers. I often find that YA is just, well, too young. Not this book. It will appeal to teens and us older folks. Jessica Packwood is just your average American teenager. Or is she? Sure she was adopted as a baby and brought to the US from Romainia, and maybe her birth parents belonged to some weird cult which resulted in their violent deaths, but other than that (okay and her weird birth name), she's just your typical senior highschool student. That is until the mysterious Lucius Vladlescu shows up. It turns out that Jessica may not be a typical teenager at all. Lucius is a vampire and he claims that so is Jessica. It's a toss up which is more surprising, the fact that Jessica is a vampire, or that Lucius has come to collect her as his bride. Jessica and Lucius are dynamic characters and their development throughout the book was evident. Lucius loses some of his snobbish attitude and Jess becomes more confident in who she really is. Fantaskey does a great job capturing these two characters and the difficulties they encounter without making the book too 'teen angsty'. There a few twists and turns along the way to keep you on your toes and I'm sure you will feel as frustrated as I did over what occurs and the main characters' behaviour, but that is just what helps the story to have more depth. For me, the highlight of this book was the letters Lucius writes home to his Uncle Vasile. The letters provide a window into Lucius' character and his perspective of American life. The combination of his European charm and sarcasm made me laugh aloud many times throughout the book. A light, easy and entertaining read, my only complaint is that the ending was rather abrupt. If it wasn't for the fact that my electronic copy actually had the word 'End' I would have wondered if I was missing an epilogue or something. This is definitely a book worth checking out if you are into lighter paranormal romance. 2010-033
Date published: 2010-02-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An intense story of teenage vampire angst. Jessica is just an average teenager, looking forward to her final year of high school. Average, except for being born in Romania and adpoted by hippie vegan farmers. She thinks that her senior year is going to be just like that of all her peer's, until she meets Lucius. Lucius claims to be a vampire prince, and that Jessica is actually a vampire princess, who was promised to him at birth! Jessica, who lives for rationality, can't wrap her head around this, and will do her best to disuade her would-be suitor. Especially now that the star of the wrestling team is showing interest in being more than friends. But she finds it hard to resist Lucius's efforts when he becomes the most attractive, most charming senior in her school. And he is determined to win her over and prevent a war brewing in far-off Romania. But what does Jessica know of wars and vampires? All she wants to do is win the local 4H horse jumping event! As Jessica slowly starts to learn more about her heritage and her would-be fiance, she finds she must choose between the safe life she knows, and a dangerous life that she knows nothing about. Before it is too late for her and Lucius. This book has a serious, dark side under its humourous moments. Lucius is a wonderful conflicted character. And the ending is by far one of the most dramatic that I have ever seen in a teen novel.
Date published: 2010-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jessica's Guide To Dating On The Dark Side i don't think that this is a series (as much as i might wish) but amazing none the less! Jessica is in her senior year of high school when a romanian vampire named Lucius comes and screws up anything. he needs to marry her like their parents wished in order to bring the two clans together. but, they actually fall in love with each other, and that makes a wee bit of a mess. the characters are well planned, the plot has no holes, no cheesy lines, or bad dialougue, and the description is well done. a little hard to get into, but once you do, you cant set it down.
Date published: 2010-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A must read book Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side was the most enjoyable book that I have read. As you read the book, you can feel the characters change of emotions. From Jessica's first though about Lucas to when another girl is interested in her husband to be. It was well written and I don't think many people would have a hard time reading this book. It is not like the Twilight series, I found this book better. I enjoyed reading it as the characters jump off the pages as I read. And I found myself right into the pages of the story. Jessica is your basic teenager and Lucas is your basic vampire. One thing for all those who might want to read this, Lucas does not glitter in the sunlight. He reminds me of a manga vampire character. But you can picture what Lucas looks like as well as the rest of the characters by how the author wrote the details. The book was well written and I didn't get confuse as I read the book. I do not want to explain about the story, I am afraid I will give the story away. But to those who like Twilight, you will like this one.
Date published: 2009-08-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A quick read, funny at first then gets serious I expected a light read - even a comical one. It was for the first half. You see light bantering between Lucius and Jessica (also known as Antanasia). Jessica finds him annoying and overbearing whereas Lucius does whatever he can to convince Jessica that she's his betrothed and a vampire princess. Suddenly Jessica finds her world turned upside down. Alas I will leave my summary there or I'd give it all away. Through the second half of the novel, it's not so light and happy anymore. The story starts getting darker and more serious. The ending, well you may call it predictable, you might not. I liked it and it made the entire story a rather satisfying read. I found it odd how I found Jessica so annoying in the first half, and then in the last half Lucius took her place. Perhaps it was meant to be that way? you just wanted to smack both them upside the head and make them see reason it was so frustrating! (but frustrating in a good way). As characters, I like Lucius the most (who wouldn't?) he oozes charm and probably could have easily swept me off my feet and we would have done a rendition of that Red Bull commercial (you know, the one with the vampire). He may have been aggrevating at first as he's as stubborn and has to have his own way but it's all about the vampire charm. He just flips it on like a switch and you're instantly sept away. It was hard to like Jessica at first. I'm not really sure why, I just didn't warm up to her like I did with Lucius. I think it was just the way she acted in the beginning of the book. She was almost like a spoiled child and her constant repeated denial just seemed to get on my nerves. When she was faced with a real bad dilemma, I sort of felt she had brought that on herself. However as you start feeling generally annoyed at Lucius and liking Jessica more, she acts more mature and more accepting of who she is. You just see Jessica "growing up" through the plot. Overall a good read. It's a short one, so it's something that could be read in a week or so. The plot was good and it flowed perfectly. No loose ends though! I could whine and cry out for a sequel, but I'm not so sure. Somehow this one ends up being perfect as a stand alone novel.
Date published: 2009-08-06

Read from the Book

Prologue “Mother?” The snow swirls around her, and she stands with her back to me, her body enveloped in a bright red cloak. Crimson . . . Mihaela’s color. The queen who once ruled the Dragomirs looks like a splash of blood against the expanse of white, and yet she is as strong and substantial as the jagged Carpathian rocks that rise out of the lonely Romanian mountain where we always meet. I step toward her, not understanding. Why doesn’t she turn to greet me? “Mother?” And then Mihaela Dragomir does turn, her face obscured by the cloak. And in her hands she holds an object, something she presses against her chest the way a nun would cradle a cross. But Mihaela is no humble, pious sister, and that thing . . . It is no holy relic. The stake . . . The bloodstained stake . . . Lucius’s stake, which he used to destroy his uncle—and which he’d once nearly used to— “No! Never!” Thrashing, fighting off something that seemed to press against my chest, I struggled to sit up and opened my eyes to see firelight flickering against stone, and for a second I wasn’t sure where I was. Gradually, though, my surroundings sank in. I was in Lucius’s home—our home. In our bed. That pressure on my chest . . . it wasn’t . . . it was just the heavy blankets that we always needed in his—our—huge, chilly bedroom, even though a fire burned in the fireplace. Taking a deep breath, I stretched out my arm and rested my hand on his shoulder, reassuring myself that everything was okay. As long as Lucius was with me, I’d be okay. Still, images from the nightmare came rushing back. The stake, which I hadn’t seen since the night Lucius pressed his fangs against my throat and recreated me as a vampire . . . Why had I dreamed about it? And why had my birth mother—who would never harm me—been holding it? I’d started dreaming about Mihaela back in Pennsylvania, and those dreams had become more frequent since I married Lucius and moved to Romania. It was like my mother, destroyed shortly after my birth, was trying to protect me as I tried hard to follow in her footsteps and become a ruler, relying on a journal she’d left for me for help. A posthumous wedding gift to guide me as I learned to be a princess. My heart started beating faster again. Was I learning? I was trying . . . Wriggling back down under the blankets, I moved toward Lucius in the massive bed—in which, as he’d once confessed, he’d probably been expected by the Vladescu Elders to take my life, conveniently removing his Dragomir bride from power and allowing the Vladescus to have unchallenged dominion over both our families. I kicked at the covers, sort of swimming through them, suddenly impatient to be right next to him. Everything in his home—our home—seemed so big sometimes. Including the burdens. Lucius slept on his side, facing away from me, and I pressed myself close to his back, feeling the coolness of his body. I shared that coolness, too, since he’d bitten me, sealing our fate and a decades-old pact that had decreed our marriage in the interest of stopping a war between our rival families. Pressing tighter against my husband—how weird that still sounded—I listened to his steady breathing, which always calmed me down when I got nervous. Lucius wasn’t scared. He thrived on ruling the clans. That was what he’d been born and raised to do. Or did he worry sometimes? “Lucius?” I got up on one elbow and shook him gently, needing to see his dark eyes and hear his deep, reassuring voice. “Lucius?” “Yes . . . yes?” he mumbled. He rolled onto his back and fumbled for me under the covers, which were expensive and stiff and made me miss the soft, worn-in flannel sheets on my bed in Pennsylvania. But how could a princess ask for flannel? “Yes, Jessica . . . ?” Resting my hand on his chest, I felt it rise and fall so slowly that I wondered if he had already fallen back asleep. But I couldn’t help asking in a whisper, so the guards outside our door wouldn’t hear, “What does it mean if a vampire dreams about a stake?” Lucius didn’t answer, and I realized he was definitely sleeping—probably exhausted from yet another day of struggling to unite our obstinate families—so I lay back down and nestled against him again. In response to the pressure of my body, he turned and pulled me close, so I could feel the entire length of his powerful warrior’s body against mine, like a shield at my back. High on top of that Romanian mountain, in the heart of a confusing castle that I supposedly governed but where I still got lost in the twisted corridors, the night got very still. Even the crackling fire seemed to get quieter. After a few minutes of forcing myself to forget about the nightmare, I started to drift off to sleep again, when suddenly Lucius muttered, barely whispering, his breath chilly against my neck, “Betrayal.” I stiffened in his arms. Was he answering my question or caught up in his own dreams? His own nightmares? Even if it was the latter, that wasn’t exactly comforting. Did my husband have disloyalty—treachery—on his mind? And Lucius, like all vampires, put great stock in dreams . . . “Betrayal.” I said the word out loud, trying to make sure it was even what I’d heard him say. “Betrayal.” At the sound of my voice, which was soft but audible enough to break the profound mountaintop silence, Lucius, seeming to get restless, wrapped his strong, scarred arm tighter around me, so I was trapped against his chest. I took his hand and tugged to give myself some space to breathe. He didn’t let go, though, and I tried to move him again. Against my fingertips, I could feel another deep scar—an X on his palm that marked him as mine, cut into his flesh at our marriage ceremony—and his wedding band on his left hand. His dominant hand. The one he’d used to wield the stake when he’d held me in a very different way, in that same castle, not too many months before. Chapter 1Antanasia Of all the grim chambers in the Vladescu castle—not counting the subterranean dungeons, of course—the one that served as a courtroom had to be the worst. Like every other room aboveground, this one had a fireplace with a blazing fire, but the flames seemed more hellish than cheerful. They cast scary, shifting shadows on the gray rock walls and definitely didn’t do much to warm up the stark décor, which consisted of a semicircle of benches for witnesses, a worn spot on the stone floor where the accused would stand, and a long table, where I sat next to Lucius in a hard, straight-backed chair. The Elders waited in similar seats on either side of us, all of the ten older vampires sitting remarkably still. Shifting in my chair, I tried—and failed—to get more comfortable. I should sue the people who designed the My Little Pony Crystal Rainbow Castle I played with in kindergarten. They led me to believe that castles were filled with rainbows and cupcakes and pastel-pink furniture. Not stone and fire and . . . blood. Turning a little bit sideways, I tried to meet Lucius’s eyes, but he was staring straight ahead, obviously preoccupied. He was also very still, except for his left hand, which absently rubbed his jaw right where he had a small scar. I knew that meant he was hiding tension, and the butterflies in my stomach got worse. If Lucius is tense, how can I even imagine handling this? My husband seemed to sense that I was getting very nervous, and he shifted his eyes just long enough to remind me, “Don’t freak out, Jess. We’ve talked about this. It’s part of our duties.” Well, Lucius had never used the phrase “freak out,” but we had discussed how my new responsibilities included handing down justice, and sometimes sentences of— “Let the accused come forward.” I jumped as Lucius’s commanding baritone suddenly echoed off the walls, and turned with a sinking heart to see that we had been joined by a vampire who stood at the back of the room, hands shackled and head hanging low. He’s a killer, I reminded myself as my mouth got dry. A bunch of witnesses saw him destroy my uncle Constantin Dragomir. And what I’m doing is just like serving on a jury. Regular humans do that all the time! I glanced to my left, seeking reassurance that I wouldn’t be alone in deciding the fate of the prisoner who was shuffling toward that pale spot on the floor. But my uncle Dorin—the only Elder I considered an ally—wasn’t there, and I ended up meeting the gaze of Claudiu Vladescu, who smirked. Maybe at the growing panic that must have been apparent on my face—or maybe at the prospect of hearing testimony about a murder. My stomach got queasier. Claudiu’s just like his older brother, Vasile—another evil, vicious vampire, whom Lucius destroyed. Although I knew I was squirming way too much for a princess, I turned to watch Lucius again, just as he said, in a steady voice that I couldn’t imagine summoning if I had to speak, “Tell your story to this panel, Dumitru Vladescu, and we will decide if you deserve mercy—or punishment.” I should have given my full attention to the vampire who was about to fight for his life, but I kept watching my husband, who had stood on that circle himself just months before and fortunately been found not guilty of Vasile’s death. Luckily, the majority of the Elders—not counting Claudiu, of course—had believed that Vasile attacked first, giving Lucius no choice but to defend himself. I never let myself think about what could have happened at that trial, and was glad I hadn’t even known about it until long after the verdict had been handed down. I continued studying Lucius. How can he even bear to be in this room, let alone coolly direct everything? And if today’s verdict is guilty, won’t he have to . . . ? “Speak,” Lucius urged his relative. “This is your chance to save your existence.” I heard both command and compassion in Lucius’s order, but my cold blood suddenly felt like ice. An existence might really end today. I’m not just part of a jury. I’m the judge, and Lucius might be . . . Fingers gripping my chair, I finally forced myself to face Dumitru Vladescu, who raised his head, so I could see his dark, terrified eyes, because if he was found guilty . . . “No!” I wasn’t even sure I’d cried out loud, but the squeal of my chair as I jumped up probably drowned out my voice anyway. “Excuse me,” I mumbled, bowing my head. “I . . . I need to leave. I don’t feel well . . .” I couldn’t look at Lucius as I stumbled from his side. And I certainly didn’t look at Claudiu or the other Elders, who would be all too aware of why the American girl raised by vegans was rushing out of the room, nearly tripping over her long formal dress. “Excuse me.” The Elders pulled in their chairs so I could pass behind them. “Sorry . . .” I knew that I was—again—hurting Lucius’s and my chance of winning a crucial vote of confidence later that year, when the most influential Vladescu and Dragomir clan members would convene at a big summer congress of vampires. A vote that could elevate Lucius and me to king and queen. Yet I couldn’t stay there, even if leaving doomed us to failure. I practically ran past the prisoner, not looking at him, either. But as I hurried toward the door, I did catch the eye of one vampire I hadn’t noticed before, even though I should have expected her to attend the trial of her father’s killer. My cousin Ylenia Dragomir, eighteen, like me, small and wearing black, sat alone in a corner, blending into the shadows as if she didn’t want anyone to see her face while she heard the story of her dad’s murder recounted in detail. I wasn’t sure what the verdict on the prisoner would be, but I had never felt so guilty as when I left that room, letting down not just my husband, but the first friend I’d made in Romania. Chapter 2Antanasia “Don’t be so hard on yourself, Antanasia,” my uncle Dorin urged. He hovered near my desk, twisting his hands nervously, sympathy in his eyes. “I . . . I didn’t make a very strong effort to attend the trial, either. Sitting in judgment—it’s not for everyone, you know?” “Claudiu seemed okay with it,” I noted miserably. “And Lucius was fine!” At least, he’d acted fine, which was what really counted. “Yes, well, Vladescus are legendary for their sang-froid,” Dorin reminded me. “They all have ice in their veins. And a few, like Claudiu, salivate to mete out some punishment. We Dragomirs, on the other hand, tend to be a little . . .” He couldn’t find the right word, but I could finish the sentence easily enough. Soft. Meek. Cowardly? But was it so bad to want to avoid ending lives? I pushed myself upright in my huge office chair, which had once belonged to my birth mom. The silk nightgown I’d changed into—in a desperate attempt to make everyone believe I really was ill—kept making my butt slip off the leather seat, and when I shoved back, my feet dangled, so I felt even more like a kid playing at being a princess. A shamed kid. At least one Dragomir—Mihaela—never shied away from a trial. Have I gone too far, with the pajamas? “I guess there’s nothing I can do now except try to redeem myself at tomorrow’s meeting with the Elders,” I said, looking glumly at a huge ledger that was open on my desk. “I can at least try to make a few intelligent points when we discuss this budget.” Yet I didn’t have much hope for that, either, as I scanned columns of numbers that supposedly represented how much Lucius and I intended to spend to govern a shifting, borderless, crazy kingdom of vampires I hadn’t even known existed until recently. I slumped in my seat, thinking, Sure, I’m a mathlete, but I’m also a teenager who just last year worked for three-dollar tips, not millions of euros in taxes! And who even knew vampires collected taxes? “Dorin?” I closed the ledger with a thud, because my worried, distracted mind kept skipping ahead to an even bigger meeting that would take place later that year, making it impossible to focus on numbers. “What is the vampire congress really like, anyhow? I have trouble picturing this event where Lucius’s and my fate will be decided.” “Oh, goodness . . .” Dorin stepped back and wrung his hands again, but this time he seemed happy and nostalgic about a week that I dreaded. “The congress is quite an event! The most prominent Vladescus and Dragomirs gather from all over the world, and while business is conducted, of course, it’s also a chance for us to socialize. Parties every evening for a full week, with the best food and music. In the past, the estates have been decorated beautifully enough to rival your wedding!” His eyes practically glowed, and I wished that I could get excited about the prospect of hundreds of my relatives wandering around the castle. “So it’s basically an oversized undead family reunion?” “Yes.” Dorin nodded. “It has been held each year since the pact that decreed your marriage was signed, uniting our clans. And this year will be extra special, as we celebrate the lasting peace achieved at your wedding.” He smiled even more warmly. “Your mother hosted the very first congress, shortly before her destruction. She would be so proud to see you take over that role.” I slipped on the seat again and pushed myself back up. How would I feed and entertain eight hundred vampires when I couldn’t even order dinner from the kitchen for Lucius and me? I would mess up the whole event, and my relatives would all laugh as they cast their “no” ballots in the vote of confidence on the last day. I was doomed to bomb at my own party, and ruin Lucius’s future, too. “It’s going to be a disaster,” I admitted out loud, for the first time. “Antanasia!” I looked up to see Dorin pressing a finger to his lips, shushing me and nodding toward the door. I knew immediately that I’d made yet another mistake. Emilian, the young guard who was always posted just outside the room whenever Lucius couldn’t be with me, was never supposed to hear me complain or show weakness. Servants—even loyal ones—were notorious gossips, according to my husband, who’d dealt with “underlings” his whole life, while I’d been mucking out stalls on a no-kill farm. If Emilian told anyone I was predicting disaster at the congress, word would spread like wildfire that I couldn’t even handle planning a party. Dorin and I looked at each other, both of us probably thinking the same thing. That the only thing I did royally was mess up. How is Lucius doing at the trial without my support? And is my cousin Ylenia, whom I also abandoned, crying behind her thick glasses? “Let’s get back to the budget,” I sighed, opening the ledger again and speaking more quietly. “I think I’m translating the Romanian wrong, because it seems to me that Lucius wants to spend sixty-five thousand euros on rabbits next year.” “I do have a taste for hare—but I could never consume more than fifty thousand euros’ worth in one twelve-month span.” I froze at the unexpected sound of a deep masculine voice and sensed my uncle seizing up, too, as we both swiveled to see Lucius leaning against the door frame, arms crossed. And although he’d just made a joke, his face looked troubled, maybe because I’d admitted my ignorance too loudly after all, or maybe because of what he’d just done at the trial . . . “Lucius?”

Editorial Reviews

Will keep teens riveted until the last page is turned." - VOYA "Fantaskey's grasp of teen obsessions and realistic dialogue will keep readers satisfied." - Booklist "