Title: Of Princes and Promises
Series: St Rosetta’s Academy #2
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Retellings
Published: June 8th, 2021 (Simon & Schuster BYR)
Synopsis: Caterina LaValle is determined to show she’s still the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. Sure, her crown may be slightly askew after her ex-boyfriend, Alaric, cheated on her, but she’s a LaValle. She’ll find a way to march right back in there, her hands clutching the strings to the whole puppet show. This time, she’s going to be untouchable.
Rahul Chopra knows that moment he shared with Caterina LaValle at the winter formal meant something. Surely she feels it, too. He’s a little uncertain how someone like him (socially inept to a point way past “adorkable”) could fit into her world, but he’s loved Caterina for years. He knows they’ll find a way.
When Caterina finds out Alaric is taking a supermodel to the upcoming gala, she knows she cannot arrive without the perfect date. But the thought of taking another superficial St. R’s boy exhausts her. The solution? Sweet-but-clueless Rahul Chopra and a mysterious pot of hair gel with the power to alter the wearer into whatever his heart desires.
When Rahul tries it, he transforms instantly into RC—debonair, handsome, and charming. But transformation comes with a price: As Rahul enjoys his new social standing, the line between his two personas begins to blur. Will he give up everything, including Caterina, to remain RC? Or will this unlikely pair find their way back to each other?
Thank you to the publisher, Simon and Schuster BYR, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
A new term is beginning at St Rosetta’s Academy and Caterina is determined to prove that she is still the best, even after her breakup with Alaric. To prove to her social circles that she has definitely moved on, she comes up with a plan. Rahul Chopra hasn’t been able to forget his dance with Caterina at the winter formal, and is convinced it meant something more, so he readily agrees to Caterina’s idea for him to be her date at several social events. Several etiquette lessons, a makeover, and a mysterious pot of magical hair gel later, the socially awkward Rahul transforms into the charming RC. The plans goes off without a hitch and soon Caterina and RC are becoming quite popular on the social scene. But with each time that Rahul uses the hair gel to become RC, the more he loses himself to the cooler version, starting to hate his original self, believing that Caterina could only ever like someone like RC. But does he really need to change himself to win Caterina over or will she come to like Rahul for himself?
When I saw this ARC available to request, I didn’t have to think twice at all. The first book in this series, Of Curses and Kisses was such a fun read that I couldn’t not pick up this sequel. Besides, Sandhya Menon is pretty much one of the authors on my auto-read list. I really enjoy her narration and writing style, and this book was no exception. It took all of two pages to descend back into the elite world of St Rosetta’s Academy with these familiar characters, this time in a modern day retelling of The Frog Prince.
I did have some doubts as to how this book might turn out since it’s technically more of a spin off than a sequel, but Caterina and Rahul made for such amazing protagonists and the author did a great job with both their character arcs. I quite surprised at how interesting a main character Caterina in particular turned out to be, especially given her portrayal in book one. I did feel however, that Rahul’s arc with his family should have been resolved in some fashion just as Caterina’s was as it was the one thing missing in an otherwise great story on his part. This book had far more drama than I’ve come to expect from Sandhya Menon’s works, but I loved how the characters still remained so relatable and genuine on so many levels, and despite all the glamour, mystery and magic, the message of this story still comes down to the importance of being yourself and loving yourself the way you are.
In contrast with the first book however, there were large portions of this book that were quite unrealistic. These characters are all in high school and are probably underage, so there’s no way they could just leave school and go to all these parties every weekend even if it is a really elite place. With all the parties and outings, so little of the book actually takes place at St Rosetta’s that the boarding school vibe I loved in the first book was definitely missing here. I would have also liked to see more of the supporting characters like Grey and Jaya, and the group of friends in general, who were rather neglected due to the plot’s almost single-minded focus on Caterina and Rahul.
Overall, an enjoyable read and another really cute installment in the St Rosetta’s Academy series. There is some potential for a third book as hinted at in the epilogue as well, and I’m curious to see what it might be a retelling of if there is one. If you enjoyed any of the author’s previous works, or are a fan of more contemporary retellings with a dash of magic, I would definitely recommend this book!
Of Princes and Promises releases on June 8th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: