Menon, Sandhya. Of Curses and Kisses. New York: Simon Pulse, 2020.
eBook | $10.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1534417564 | 380 pages |YA Contemporary Romance
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 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.
I love Sandhya Menon’s work for the most part, and was excited by the premise of her Beauty and the Beast retelling, Of Curses and Kisses. But I feel like this one just wasn’t for me.
I did like both Jaya and Grey as characters. Both are dynamic and have arcs that made me root for them throughout. Jaya’s willingness to sacrifice for her sister was admirable, as was Grey’s journey to embracing himself and pulling away from his toxic family legacy. And while I didn’t find the romance earth-shattering, I think they have decent chemistry.
But Menon described this in an answer to a Goodreads question as “a contemporary. But it’s got ‘is it magic or isn’t it’ vibes,” and given I prefer stuff even straddling magic to be more well-defined into the fantasy realm with fairly strong world building and magic rules (although it doesn’t have to be complex), to the point of even rejecting most urban fantasy, I just wasn’t sucked into the presumption of magic she was building up. I did like that there was lore attached to it, but given the direction it ends up going in, I was left a little cold in that department.
And it just doesn’t have the same overall charm for me as her Dimple and Rishi books do. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in that series later this year, but I saw it was announced that there would be two more of these, and while I like the school setting and wanted more of it, I just didn’t latch onto any of the secondary characters enough to care to see more of them.
As I said before, this was just not for me. However, I understand why others like it, and think if you’re into contemporary fairy tale retellings, you’ll love this book.
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