Of Curses & Kisses by Sandhya Menon
St. Rosetta’s Academy #1
From the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi comes the first novel in a brand-new series set at an elite international boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.
Will the princess save the beast?
For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?
His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…
As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.
It’s no secret that I am not a fan of YA contemporaries. It’s not the genres fault, it’s just that I’m not in the age range these books are targeted towards. So, when I first saw that this book was being released, I wasn’t dying to get my hands on a copy, but it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and being someone who loves a good retelling, I thought why not give it a chance. I’m so glad I did!
I have read so many Beauty and the Beast retellings, and Of Curses & Kisses by Sandhya Menon was so refreshing to me. It may be because this one is not set in a fantasy world, but at an elite boarding school. Also, I think the introduction of Indian culture and superstition surrounding the curse may have played a big part in my enjoyment of this book. Plus, the characters were such a treat. They had their moments, when all I wanted to do was knock some sense in them, but they ended up growing and changing for the better.
Like I mentioned above, our main character, Jaya, may have needed a swift kick in the butt. I had such a love/hate relationship with her, because while she is so rigid and manipulative, she was also, without a doubt, loyal to her family. Jaya would do anything to protect her family and their reputation, even if that meant hurting others or herself in the process. The growth that occurs with Jaya is a little abrupt, but it does happen, and I can’t be mad about that.
While Jaya could be a bit insufferable, I don’t think there was ever a moment in this story that I didn’t care for our male main character, Grey. This poor boy has lived his life believing he’s cursed, so to protect himself and the feelings of others, he lives his life trying to keep everyone at arm’s length. But, like I said there’s not much not to like. He’s kind and attractive, and while he doesn’t go out of his way to have friends, he has them.
Speaking of which, the side characters were a necessary addition to show that Grey is not a lost cause and to move the story along, but they were also a fun addition. Now, I have never read the original Beauty and the Beast — I know, shocking — but I am very familiar with Disney’s take on the tale, and the Lumiere character in this book has those same French phrases as the animated character, and I was there for it! We are also introduced to who must have been inspired by Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth. The Cogsworth character really stood out to me on a personal level because I am a mother to a child that has high functioning autism, and seeing that representation but not blatantly saying anything about it, along with other characters being accepting of him, made my heart so happy.
Another thing that made my heart go pitter-patter was the romance. This book does it right! The relationship is slow to grow, and just so sweet. Plus, there was a very romantic moment that was a total nod to Disney’s animated edition. Those little Disney moments added just that little extra to this book.
In the end, this take on Beauty and the Beast was a lot of fun. I highly recommend you getting your hands on this one when it releases on February 18, 2020.