Of Curses and Kisses, Sandhya Menon – ARC Review

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43985469._sy475_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.

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*ARC received in exchange of an honest review. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*

Hello everyone! Welcome to Lala Land! Prags loves Sandhya, and also loves her books, and Sandhya has a new book… so basically, Prags has gone insane! (If you got that reference, take 10 points for your House, along with my eternal gratitude, will ya?)

But, coming to the point… as always, this is just going to be a huge gush fest for the beauty that is Sandhya Menon’s mind. So, if you’re not interested, please be my guest.

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Now that only the interested people remain, let’s get this party started!!

Of Curses and Kisses is a retelling of the fairy tale Beauty and The Beast, like most of us already know. BATB has always been my favourite fairy tale, so of course, I was doubly excited for this because Sandhya Menon + BATB was like a dream come true for me. It was also why I didn’t read this book for the longest time because I didn’t want to be disappointed, just in case. But, of course, my fears were unfounded because I absolutely fell in love with story and the characters and just about everything.

The story is as we know it, that of the beast with a curse, and the beautiful woman who falls for him despite his cold and distant exterior. But, the way Sandhya Menon has made it hers is commendable. It reads a lot like a Bollywood movie, and I think that’s what I love the most about it. Bollywood is home, after all. So, that gave this a lot of brownie points from my end. As expected.

The characters are all so amazing. Even the supporting characters are pretty well fleshed out and I love that. Jaya, the female lead, is equal parts frustrating and relatable for me. So many of her actions just made me go, yes Jaya, I feel you, my girl. I, too, would have done the same. And then, there were times I was like, stop being a doughnut, Jaya! But, the thing is, even when she frustrated me, I understood where she was coming from, and I couldn’t exactly blame her for doing or saying what she did, because I did get why she would. That made her a very interesting character for me, because when someone frustrates you, but you still see why they’re doing something… isn’t that the most delicious torture? But, she had such great character growth and that makes me so happy. She went from being judgemental to being accepting and it was such a beautiful journey. Jaya was always righteous and stubborn, but using that for exceedingly different purposes from the start to the end is what made me happy.

Her relationship with everyone surrounding her was so well developed, and I liked that the focus wasn’t only Grey, but the other people she met at school too, be it her mismatched bunch of friends, or her frenemy, or even her sister. We got to see her interact with so many people and build relationships with them and that made me smile. It was so fulfilling to see so many friendships flourish as the book progressed.

In the end, I was always just rooting for her, even when I was, yes, frustrated. She’s such a well written character. I loved her!

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Grey, the male lead, made me want to hug him tightly for like 99% of the book. His fears and insecurities were so well developed and he had suffered so much in life, it just made me want to wrap him in a blanket forever and keep him there. I loved his progression a lot! The way he went from this closed off, aloof boy to sharing things with his friends, but mostly Jaya, was very nice to see.

I liked how he challenged Jaya at every turn and made her question things. He was whip smart and always had an quick witted answer to everything. His inner musings, apart from the angst, were also very funny and I enjoyed being in his head a whole lot!

More than Jaya, I think I was rooting for him to get an HEA because after everything, he deserved it the most.

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The one thing I love in Sandhya Menon books is that the ensemble is amazing and secondary characters also have growth through out the story. We saw that here too. There were all these amazing characters, but my favourites were Jaya’s sister, Isha, and her frenemy, Caterina. Isha’s scenes even made me cry at one point, that’s how much I love her. Caterina, though, had the most interesting arc in the story and her relationship with Jaya and how it grew throughout the book made me very intrigued in her as a character. It was so well written!!

All in all, this book was absolutely amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading it. Another feather in Sandhya’s hat. It felt so good to read it! Thank you, Sandhya. ❤

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Goodreads | AmazonB&N | IndieBound

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Sandhya Menon is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels with lots of kissing, girl power, and swoony boys. Her books have been featured in several cool places, including on The Today Show, Teen Vogue, NPR Book Review, Buzzfeed, and Seventeen. A full-time dog servant and part-time writer, she makes her home in the foggy mountains of Colorado.

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