Sandhya Menon is bringing her love stories to a new world with a hefty dose of revenge, curses, and mysteries in her new St. Rosetta’s Academy series, starting with Of Curses and Kisses!
Princess Jaya Rao’s family has been feuding with the Emerson family since the days of British colonialism in India, but when the Emersons strike out against her 15-year-old sister Isha, it’s officially personal. Jaya and Isha find themselves hiding away from media scrutiny at St. Rosetta’s Academy in the mountains of Colorado, but privacy isn’t the only reason they’re there. St. Rosetta’s is also home to Grey Emerson, the last Emerson heir, and Jaya intends to crush him and get revenge for her sister. What she doesn’t know is that Grey Emerson is living a cursed life because of their family feud, and he isn’t exactly the cruel monster she was expecting.
As all the St. Rosetta’s stories will be, Of Curses and Kisses is loosely based on a fairy tale. In this case, it’s Beauty and the Beast, but thankfully this doesn’t focus on the same elements that many other retellings do. No one is imprisoned and there’s no heavy duty negotiation of power between Jaya and Grey. Their companions aren’t all A-to-B comparisons to the supporting cast of the original tale. The main focus, instead, is on the curse, the history between the two families, and how it affects the characters’ slow burn relationship.
I struggle pretty infamously with beginnings and set-up, but I was able to dive into this novel with relative ease. The story moves smoothly thanks to sisterly chaos between Jaya and Isha, sweet, quiet moments between Grey and Jaya, and a healthy dose of absolutely wild drama that only an elite prep school could produce.
Unfortunately, the story was also missing something for me as well: The quirk and comedy found in Menon’s Dimpleverse books. There are some tidbits of comedy (mainly thanks to Leo) here and there, but things were a little too straightforward all the same. Both Jaya and Grey are pretty simplistic with a singular motivation that drives each of them. We don’t see a lot of personality from them besides. On the whole, I wish the main characters came off as multifaceted as side characters like Isha and Daphne Elizabeth.
Of Curses and Kisses is the first in a fairytale retelling series from Menon and does a great job setting up the world. St. Rosetta’s Academy is a fascinating setting– Secluded and a bit magical in its own right while still being close to modern society. It’s obviously a stand-in for a palace, but it has potential for so many different fairytales moving forward. It also housed a great cast of characters that start off a little two-dimensional but grow in depth as the novel progresses. You can’t help but wonder who will star in the next St. Rosetta’s adventure, as it could be a whole slew of them! I’m hoping DE, Leo, or Rahul will be a part of it, though there’s potential to focus on another group within the school as well.
RATING: 3.75 OUT OF 5 STARS
Of Curses and Kisses is out now. You can snag yourself a copy via Amazon, B&N, or Indiebound today!
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.