Title: Of Curses and Kisses
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Review Copy: ARC from publisher
Availability: Available now
Summary: 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.
Review: If you’ve ever read any of Sandhya Menon’s novels, you know she is an expert at writing slow-burning steamy romances and “Of Curses and Kisses” is no exception. The fun twist to the story is that it is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and what a unique retelling it is.
As always, Menon’s strength is in her characters and Jaya and Grey are no exception. Jaya is very headstrong and at times, can be very frustrating. She fiercely loves her family and is committed to her role as princess and future queen, which was admirable and what I loved about her. She becomes engaged to someone she doesn’t love, but is willing to sacrifice her happiness for her family and community. Grey’s story is much more heartbreaking as he is an extreme introvert due to his father’s emotional abuse. He is a very caring person but often hides that part of himself to protect his heart. Together, Jaya and Grey challenge each other while at the same time bring out the best in each other. There were so many moments where Grey made Jaya question her decision for revenge as she got to know him and there were moments where Jaya brought Grey out of his shell. Because of that, they both allowed themselves to be vulnerable with each other, which to me, were some of the best moments of the book. I feel in love with Jaya and Grey as they fell in love with each other.
I have to mention how inventive Menon’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast this is. Clearly Jaya is meant to be “Beauty” and Grey is meant to be “Beast” (he even refers to himself as a beast) however, there were moments that I felt the roles were reversed. Grey is a truly beautiful soul and sometimes Jaya was so consumed with her desire for revenge that some of her actions were “beast-like”. They way Menon used the mythical rose from the original story, as a rose shaped ruby pendant that was the start and the end of the curse, was beautiful. As the pendent falls apart Jaya and Grey relationship grows, as the two initially bond over the falling petals of the pendant. It was a beautiful balance and created a lovely tension to their relationship.
I’ve loved all of Sandhya Menon’s books and “Of Curses and Kisses” is added to that list. It was a fun, steamy, romantic novel and one that everyone should read.