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Monday, February 17, 2020

A Soft & Angsty Modern Retelling Of Beauty & The Beast: Of Curses & Kisses by Sandhya Menon

OF CURSES & KISSES

by Sandhya Menon
Series: St. Rosetta's Academy #1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Publisher: Simon Teen
Publication Date: February 18th 2020
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷✷
Amazon - The Book Depository - IndieBound

Of Curses & Kisses was a fresh and delightful take on a classic, Beauty & The Beast from Sandhya Menon. I've been a fan of the author ever since her debut novel. With this book, she offers a story that is different in tone from her previous books, but you'll still find all the elements that make Sandhya's books compulsively readable here.

Of Curses & Kisses stars Jaya Rao, a young woman who hails from Indian royalty. After a scandal in the Indian media leaves her younger sister's reputation in tatters, Jaya and Isha arrive at St. Rosetta's Academy, a school for elites in Colorado. When Jaya finds out that Grey Emerson, the person she believes is behind the media leak is also at St. Rosetta, she sets out to take revenge on him. Her plan is to get him to fall in love with her and then break his heart. What she discovers, however, is that Grey is not exactly the guy she made out to be in her mind.

What makes Sandhya's books enjoyable for me are her characters. I have yet to read a character from her that I dislike and thankfully, Jaya and Grey were not an exception. Jaya was a character that had grown up to be obedient and devoted to her family duties. She took her obligations seriously and would do anything to protect her family's reputation even at the cost of her own happiness. As a result, she came across as somewhat rigid at times and stubborn almost to a fault. While these may sound like qualities that make her difficult to connect with, that was not the case for me. I found myself admiring her loyalty and her desire to want to protect her sister, perhaps, because I could see parts of myself in those traits? Her love for her sister was so pure and it warmed my heart to see the lengths she was willing to go to ensure that no harm would come to Isha. As the story progressed, Jaya's character underwent a lot of growth and she began to show more of her own desires. The battle between what she wanted and what she thought was expected of her played out beautifully.

The "Beast" of the story is, as you probably guessed, Grey. Ah, this soft, broody, lonely boy. My heart ached for the situation that he was in, and I wanted nothing more than to protect him and convince him that happiness was right around the corner. Grey grew up feeling utterly unloved by his father who blamed him for his mother's death. His father believed that his destiny was tied to a centuries-old curse tied to his family and the Raos and that he would die on his 18th birthday. He lived in constant fear of his impending death and as a result, he has isolated himself from most of the students at St. Rosetta's Academy. He began to experience moments of happiness when Jaya appeared in his life, but he was very cognizant about the fact that his life would be ending soon. It was very distressing to agonize so much about his death.

Jaya and Grey's relationship may have started out as a lie, but it became clear very quickly that these two were meant to be with each other. As with Beauty & the Beast, this a slow-burn romance and one that is extremely satisfying as the two begin to open up to each other. What I liked best here was how they taught each other to believe in themselves and that it was okay to put themselves first for once. There were several obstacles in Jaya and Grey's relationship that prevented them from being together and most of this book has to do with them attempting to overcome these challenges. Theirs was an angsty romance and I loved every swoon-worthy moment of it.

Sandhya weaved a truly beautiful story with Of Curses & Kisses. I loved how she incorporated the core elements of Beauty & the Beast with her own twists and made this retelling unique. The boarding school setting with all the scenic descriptions was also to die for. I loved meeting all the students at St. Rosetta's as they made for a great secondary cast. There were plenty of relationships besides the romantic one between Jaya and Grey. I am eager to learn more about them in the subsequent companion books of this series!

If you like Beauty & the Beast and boarding school settings, Of Curses & Kisses is a book I definitely recommend picking up. I think you'll love the sweet romance and everything else the book has to offer as much as I did!


What are some of your favorite Beauty & The Beast retellings?
Let me know in the comments below!