Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon – REVIEW

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 received a complimentary copy of this book from Hodder Books.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“Kiran was one of those guys who thought Jaya’s X chromosome stood for ‘xplain things to me'”

I’m a huge Sandhya Menon fan so I was thrilled to be part of the street team for her latest book, Of Curses and Kisses. This is her first fantasy book and a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I trust the author to deliver a feel-good romance that envelops the reader like a hug and this didn’t disappoint. I loved the setting of St. Rosetta’s International Academy, a castle-like boarding school nestled away in the snowy mountains, evoking the isolation of the original fairytale. Some of the Beauty and the Beast references were a little heavy handed but this didn’t bother me as I appreciated the author’s intentions.

“But maybe most of all, it means I am what my father says I am. Different. Cursed. Broken.”

The narrative alternates between our two main characters, Princess Jaya Rao and the aristocratic Grey Emerson. I found Jaya difficult to connect with at first but her character development endeared her to me and it was much easier to empathise with her as the story progressed. I loved her sibling bond with the wonderful Isha and her growing friendship with Daphne Elizabeth. Grey seemed a much more realistic seventeen year old and I really enjoyed his chapters which helped explain how his upbringing shaped him. The only thing that niggled me about Grey was his name as it doesn’t seem like something an English aristocratic family would name their son (I know this is a *really* petty observation!). Jaya and Grey had fantastic chemistry and it was wonderful to see them challenge each other and learn to open up.

“People who don’t turn out how their parents or their society expects are the best people of all.”

The story deals with themes such as parental pressure, cultural expectations, and family bonds, with hints of superstition and astrology. I loved this delightful mix and how the author questions whether something you believe to be a curse is actually a blessing in disguise. The subplot of the love triangle between Daphne Elizabeth, Alaric and Caterina was handled really well and Caterina has become one of my favourite prickly, ice-Queen with a secret soft centre, characters. Of Curses and Kisses is an escapist YA fantasy with wonderful characters, a beautiful romance, and an incredible setting, and deserves a place on your bookshelf.

Please check out the three other bloggers taking part in the blog tour today:

Quintessentially Bookish

New Chicks on the Block

Novels and Nebulas

(Goodreads | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Hive)

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