Title: Of Curses and Kisses
Author: Sandhya Menon
Series: St. Rosetta’s Academy #1
Publisher: Simone Pulse
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Page Length: 384
Genre: Contemporary, Retelling
Age Range: YA
CAWPILE Rating: 8.07/10
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but done completely in a contemporary format with, some could argue, magical realism. I have read When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya and was really curious how she would do with a retelling. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised.
Sandhya managed to take a classical fairytale and put it into a realistic setting AND manage to bring in some of her own culture into the story. The main character, Princess Jaya Rao, definitely fit her title. She had an air of superiority about her, but not in a bad way. She felt reliant and responsible. In the best way possible, she didn’t feel like your typical Belle. I loved that – bringing in a different type of character than others. The trait that Jaya and Belle did share, of course, was a love of books. Traditional to her culture, Jaya felt a huge responsibility to take care of her family and do right by them – no matter the cost to herself.
Emerson, however, felt every bit like a beast to me. Very broody and moody lol. He, even with friends, felt like an outsider by choice and by force. He was CURSED to be alone and it was for the better. He does grow as we get to know him, just like Jaya.
This was described as Gossip Girl meets Beauty and the Beast, and I agree. It was full of rich, elite children at a boarding school. There were frenemies and true friends made. I loved the inclusion of Jaya’s little sister and getting to see her growth.
Overall, I found this to be a great, easy read. It went outside of the typical retelling and avoiding the feeling of copy/paste. The inclusion of Indian characters and culture really added to the story for me. I would highly recommend this to those who have already read and loved Sandhya’s work. I would also recommend it to those who are tired of the same old Beauty and the Beast retellings.