Of Curses and Kisses – Sandhya Menon

RELEASE DATE: 18/02/2019

STAR RATING: 3.5/5 ✶

SYNOPSIS: For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. That’s why when she finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, a member of the rival royal family behind a humiliating scandal involving her little sister, she schemes to get revenge on the young nobleman in order to even the score between their families. The plan? Make him fall in love with her and then break his heart the way his family has broken hers.

Grey Emerson doesn’t connect with people easily. Due to a curse placed on his family by the Raos that his superstitious father unquestioningly, annoyingly believes in, Grey grew up internalising that he was doomed from the day he was born. Sequestered away at St. Rosetta’s Academy, he’s lived a quiet existence in relative solitude. That is, until Jaya Rao bursts into his life. Jaya is exuberant and elegant and unlike anyone Grey has ever met before, but he can’t help feeling that she’s hiding something behind her beautiful smile and charmingly awkward attempts at flirting. Despite his better instincts, though, he starts to fall for her.

Jaya’s plan isn’t totally going according to plan. For one, Grey is aggravatingly handsome. And for two, she’s realising there’s maybe more to him than his name and his family imply.

The stars are crossed for Jaya and Grey. But can they still find their fairy-tale ending? (From Hodder)

OPINIONS: Indian princess meets meets Lord at a fancy boarding school in the Colorado mountains. Easy enough. Though this story has more depth to it than that: adressing the centuries of colonialism and resulting resentment between India and England through the story of Beauty and the Beast, through a stolen ruby, a curse, and a rose necklace.

Despite its modern setting, Of Curses and Kisses is a fairly faithful retelling of the classic story it is based on (the fairy tale, not the Disney version with talking crockery). It is ultimately less about breaking curses than empowerment and making decisions for oneself and opening up towards change. In that respect, both of the main characters, Jaya and Grey, undergo major character arcs over the course of the story and break free of the constraints they themselves and their families and societies put on them. However, the secondary characters fall flat and dissolve into stereotypes upon closer inspection, serving only as a canvas for the main plot.

Another gripe I had was with the writing style – told in alternating third-person PoV between Jaya and Grey, it lacked immediacy and emotion, which I found disconnected me from the story. The author used their full names frequently while reflecting about themselves, something which I found rather irritating. But then, this is mainly personal preference and it might well be that it works better for others!

From what I’ve seen, the book has been very well received, even if it was not quite for me, and my copy has already been claimed by a friend, so do give it a chance! Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads and you can order it here, or from your favourite retailer. Thank you to Kate Keehan and Hodder Books for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review!

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