cover image Of Curses and Kisses

Of Curses and Kisses

Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5344-1754-0

In this uneven “Beauty and the Beast” retelling from Menon (When Dimple Met Rishi), Princess Jaya Rao is the heiress to an old Indian kingdom, and though India is now a democracy, she still has to act the part. This means doing her duty (acting “benevolent, firm, and fair”), aspiring to perfection, and looking after her free-spirited younger sister, Isha. Isha’s appearance in the tabloids is why, in Jaya’s senior year, they’ve been sent to St. Rosetta’s International Academy, a fancy boarding school in the Colorado mountains where the rich stash children who they want out of the public eye. Jaya has reconciled herself to it, though: Grey Emerson, scion of the English family that her own has feuded with over a cursed ruby for generations, also attends there. The plan is to break his heart as payback for his allegedly leaking a photo of Isha to the press. Seventeen-year-old Beast stand-in Grey is lonely, brooding, and, “tainted” by the curse, sure he can’t be with people. As if their family connection isn’t enough, Grey and Jaya’s tempestuous relationship becomes entangled with other school dramas. En route to the inevitable happy ending, readers may tire of repeated descriptions that underline not only the characters’ wealth and family connections but also their emotional states, which are often described, and then announced, within the protagonists’ alternating first-person narratives. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Feb.) [/em]