TITLE: Of Curses and Kisses
AUTHOR: Sandhya Menon
PAGE EXTENT: 384
PUBLISHER: Hodder UK
GENRE: YA Contemporary
MY RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.75
The first novel in a 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.
Add dollops and dollops of cuteness, one handsome, broody British Prince, one law-abiding, graceful Indian princess, two teaspoonfuls of romance, sprinkle a beautiful backdrop and then add a dash of magical realism, and voila – You have Of Curses and Kisses!
When I found out that this book is a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I was intrigued! I have read a lot of retellings and they have all been fantasy-based, so I was super excited to see Menon’s take on this!
Our protagonist is Jaya Rao, who is the Princess of Mysuru and has stepped into St. Rosetta’s Academy, a posh school nestled in the hills which is brimming with students from the rich and famous families. She is a law-abiding daughter who is extremely concerned about her family’s reputation and would do anything to uphold her culture and values.
One thing I LOVE LOVE LOOOOVE about Sandhya’s books is the fact that all her books feature Indian characters! (YAY, representation!) What I found reaaaaally endearing is that Jaya is from my state and I was beaming with pride at all the Kannada lingo scattered throughout the book! I felt so so represented! (Jaya and I also share a common surname. Hi-five Jaya!)
One of my favorite characters from this book was Jaya’s younger sibling Isha, who is the rule breaker of the family, much like me! She happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that led to her being shipped off to St. Rosetta’s with her sister (I won’t say much about it because, spoilers!) She is a bubbly, excited, chirpy teen who is instantly likeable and you want to befriend her as you get to know her better!
How did I NOT mention Grey Emerson? Grey is a royal from England who has been cursed by one of Jaya’s ancestors (royal scuffles, you see?) and he is fearing his doom as he turns eighteen. He is this broody, muscular, handsome dude who makes for the perfect book boyfriend!
This book is loaded with cuteness and just the right amount of romance! I love how the romance is not all over the place but makes you giggle from time to time! Sandhya Menon is an expert at keeping you hooked! You can’t stop reading and before you realize, you are at the end of the book, craving for more!
Though this is mostly a contemporary novel, there was a smidge of magical realism. Grey’s family is cursed by a Rao matriarch and I was surprised by how it all played out in the end! I so want a ruby pendant like Jaya’s haha! Menon smoothly infused the essence of Beauty and the Beast into this cutesy darling of a book!
All in all, this is a well-balanced book with romance, teenage angst, well-fleshed out characters and I want to dive back into this world with Of Princes and Promises! Can’t wait!
Sandhya is such a sweetheart who shares all about her characters, their inspirations, her writing process and much more on her Street Team! I am super glad to be a part of this awesome Street Team and can’t wait to read the rest of her books!