Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: February 18th, 2020
Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of “When Dimple Met Rishi,” comes the first novel in a brand-news series set at an elite boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin of 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 that 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 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 from a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed when he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s led 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 contemporary retellings of classic fairytales so when I saw Of Curses and Kisses, by Sandhya Menon on NetGalley, I just had to request it. Except for a couple of issues, this modernization of Beauty and the Beast kept me thoroughly entertained.
I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m a sucker fo fairytale retellings. And you probably won’t be surprised that one of my favorite fairytales is Beauty and the Beast. So when I saw Of Curses and Kisses on NetGalley I knew I had to request it even though I wasn’t thrilled with the title (love the cover though!)
After a somewhat slow start during the first 40 pages or so, I found myself completely captivated by this modern day version of the beloved classic. I’ve seen other reviewers complain about Jaya, saying she’s cold and standoffish. Which to be honest, she is, at least at first. But I completely understood why. This is the oldest daughter of an Indian royal family, and as such, has had numerous weighty expectations on her shoulders all of her life. But balancing this is her close relationship with her younger sister Isha, and her protectiveness toward her is both irritating and touching. And speaking of Isha, she’s actually my favorite character in this story. At fifteen-years-old, she’s been shamed in Indian society and the media for a mysterious incident that isn’t actually revealed until you’re several chapters in. Unsurprisingly, the “scandal” is completely overblown, and the fact that Isha is a sweet, innocent girl with a sunny disposition, makes this even more hurtful. I also love her determination to become an engineer despite her family and just about everyone else frowning upon this. Grey is also a wonderful character whose backstory will tug at your heartstrings. In addition to the curse hanging over his head, he’s been neglected his entire life by an uncaring father who irrationally blames him for his mother dying in childbirth. The relationship between him and Jaya starts out rocky, but it progressively develops into a lovely romance.
The story itself, despite being a retelling, is creative and original. For example, Menon turns the rose that slowly loses its petals into an exquisite rose-shaped pendant whose rubies begin to fall out one by one as Grey’s eighteenth birthday approaches. Yes there are nods to the original fairytale as well as the Disney adaptation, but there are many unique twists and although I was pretty certain Jaya and Grey would attain their happy ending, I was kept guessing as to how things would unfold.
I HIGHLY recommend Of Curses and Kisses to anyone who loves imaginative fairytales retellings with plenty of diversity and complex characters. I have no idea what the next book in the St. Rosetta’s Academy series will entail, but after this magical beginning I can’t wait to find out!