Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon. Grades 7+. Simon Pulse, February 2020. 384 pages. Review copy provided by publisher. This one's due out February 18 - pre-order now!
Princess Jaya Rao has just one thing on her mind: destroy Grey Emerson.
The Emersons and the Raos have been feuding for decades and now Grey Emerson has gone too far, leaking a story about Jaya's little sister Isha to the press. Jaya spends a great deal of her energy figuring out how to protect Isha from the paparazzi and the gossip columnists, not an easy task since Isha seems allergic to conforming to her role as a member of the royal Rao family.
So now, Jaya has arranged their transfer to an elite Colorado boarding school where she plans to get her revenge on Grey by getting him to fall in love with her and then shattering his heart.
His Lordship Grey Emerson, only son of the Emerson line, doesn't "people" very well. Warned since birth that a curse on their family foretold only tragedy and an early death for him, Grey doesn't like to get attached. His father blames him for his mother's death in childbirth and he's shipped Grey off to boarding school so as not to be bothered.
When Princess Jaya shows up at his school, wearing a cursed ruby pendant, Grey knows that it's the very cursed ruby that started his family's decline. And as the rose pendant seems to lose its petals, Grey knows he's coming closer and closer to his own early death.
Jaya signs up for all of Grey's classes to begin her seduction. Grey tries to stay as far away from Jaya - and the cursed ruby - as possible. But, as we all know, sometimes plans go awry.
This modern day twist on Beauty and the Beast has a lot of fun elements of the original story, all told with a modern Gossip Girl-esque setting as Jaya and Grey navigate not only their feelings for each other and a potential deadly curse but the dramatic goings-on of their rich and powerful peers. Honestly, it reminded me most of a soap opera and I think fans of that dramatic, fantastical storytelling will most appreciate the book.
I am a huge fan of Sandhya Menon's teen romance novels, but this one's a little bit different than her previous books. There's a little bit of a fantasy element with the curse, although it's not so heavy handed as to call this a fantasy novel. Fans of fairy tale retellings, especially those with a modern setting, will find much to enjoy here.
When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer (St. Martin's Griffin, 2010). Ooh, I'm taking you back for this one. This modern-day retelling of Carmen has just the blend of dramatic storytelling rooted in a classic story and romance featuring culturally diverse characters written by own voices authors.
Prince Charming by Rachel Hawkins (Putnam, 2019). Readers who love the royals-eye-view and boarding school setting may also enjoy this rom com about a teen who heads to a Scottish boarding school to escape the public eye after her sister becomes engaged to a royal.