I hadn’t read any of Sandhya Menon’s books yet and even though they’re quite popular I wasn’t really planning on picking them up. But when her new book was announced I got quite excited! A contemporary Beauty and the Beast retelling set at a boarding school. Some of my favorite things right there. So let’s see if this one lived up to my expectations.
From the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi comes the first novel in a brand-new 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.
Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta's Academy, #1) by Sandhya Menon
Published by Simon Pulse on 18/02/2020
I like the illustrated characters on the cover. The color scheme and typography looks quite nice as well. It’s not a super special cover but it’s a nice one. I truly hope they keep this theme for the next books in the series and don’t do a cover change.
We follow Jaya Rao as she and her sister Isha start at the St. Rosetta’s boarding school. Almost immediately we find out Jaya choose that school because Grey Emerson goes there. And the Rao’s and Emersons have quite some history. Jaya has some interesting motives to pick this as their new boarding school as you will find out soon.
This story is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and that was very clear. You can see the references to the original tale and I really enjoyed how Sandhya wrote this retelling. I think my favorite part of the story was the pendant. When reading about it, I think I actually cheered out loud haha.
I got an eARC through Netgalley but ended up listening to the audiobook. And I’m glad I did that. Because if I’m being honest, I’m not sure if I would’ve finished reading this as a physical book. I was pretty bored at times and simply didn’t care enough. The story is very easy to digest and apart from the Beauty and the Beast retelling it does nothing new or interesting. So that leaves the characters, and they were lacking as well unfortunately.
We get two POV’s. One is Jaya’s and the other is Grey’s. I actually quite liked Grey. He is an interesting character with a somewhat heartbreaking background. But unfortunately his chapters were quite short. I really wanted his parts to be longer. Especially because the end of his chapter meant the start of Jaya’s….
Most of the story is told from Jaya’s POV. And I just couldn’t stand her. Looking back at my notes I talked about Jaya being a bit annoying pretty early on. And that quickly changed to very annoying. I didn’t really like Jaya’s attitude towards Isha and thought the Catarina/Jaya storyline seemed pretty out of place.
It was interesting to see the Indian influences in Jaya and I did like that part. But it wasn’t enough for me to actually like her. While I understand parts of her and can even respect her, I just didn’t care to read about her for a whole novel. She was very judgmental and I felt like she thought she knew what was best for every person she met. I liked most side characters a lot more and wish we saw more of them.
Like I said, the Catarina/Jaya storyline was a bit weird for me. I did like how all of that was resolved but I think it could’ve been done in some other way. The general ending came pretty quickly compared to the rest of the novel. Not that much (exciting or surprising) happens throughout the story and than in just a couple of pages everything is fixed. The only thing I really liked about the ending is how the ‘curse’ played out.
While I mentioned a lot of things I didn’t like about the book, I still gave it 3 stars. It was a quick and pretty entertaining read. You can fly through it pretty quickly and I enjoyed the BatB references. Originally I wasn’t planning on reading the sequel, but after reading the synopsis, I might give that one a shot!
Do you plan on reading this one? Or have you read it already? And what it your favorite story to be retold? Tell me all about it in the comments!