Tevin Dumont has always been a pawn in his family's cons. The prettiest boy in a big family, his job is to tempt naïve rich girls to abandon their engagements, unless their parents agree to pay him off. But after his mother runs afoul of the beast, she decides to trade Tevin for her own freedom.
Now, Tevin and Merit have agreed that he can pay off his mother's debt by using his con-artist skills to help Merit find the best match . . . but what if the best match is Tevin himself?
“When she opened her eyes, it was to see the footman faint dead away, the heavy door in his hands clattering to the floor.
Then her mother screamed.”
Merit had found her one true love… or she thought she had. When she insisted on waiting for him, only to find that her lover was a cheat, she denied the heartbreaking news and refused to marry her betrothed. Her disobedience brought a terrible price: She must marry her mother’s choosing or a man who truly loved her before she turns 18, or she would stay a mindless beast forever…
OK, so till this point it’s pretty much how you’d expect from a Beauty and the Beast retelling, gender-swap excluded. From here on, however, the story took on a life of its own, developing into a unique tale of love and deception.
“Fairy Gift—same as a fairy curse, really, only the fairy in question thinks this one is a really good idea”
The world-building was one of my favorite aspects of this book. Instead of a simple magical system, the author crafted a complicated world with so many possibilities and imaginations. There were three kinds of people in the society: The fairyborn, the human, and the fairy godlings. The godlings were often invited to events held by fairyborn nobles, granting gifts and curses to their liking, while mages, human with limited magical abilities, invented convenient magical objects that were similar to our technology. While this world could be a little bit confusing at first, and the world building did slow the pace a bit, I loved all the creative, fun cruses and magecrafts!
“You may look like a beast, but I am one.”
As for the characters, meet Tevin, the eldest of the conning DuMont family. The DuMont family reminded me so much of the Renard family in Sky Without Stars, both families utilized their children to cheat money out of the wealthy, leaving a great burden on the children. In this case, Tevin had to use his good looks to charm young ladies to get money, and he was willing to do that if only to lift the burden from his younger siblings. I loved how he is an imperfect love interest for Merit, and that he also had his own beast to battle deep inside. Being with Merit allowed him the chance to truly be himself. I loved how he and Merit grew together throughout the book.
Curses also had some adorable side characters, with LGBTQ+ representation. Several of them have distinct personalities and could have had some epic stories themselves!
“‘I’m proud of who I am,’ Val said. ‘And see no reason to pretend otherwise.’”
I LOVED, LOVED Val. She was one of my favorite characters in the whole book. She was brave, witty, and charismatic in her own way. She had an air of confidence that was more charming than Tevin. I’d love to be her friend and gladly received her flirtations.
“Merit touched her lips and tried not to think about riding under the sweetheart bridge and the kiss that didn’t happen. She failed miserably.”
The romance was pretty slow-burn, so they didn’t kiss until late in the book, and both of them were apparently trying to deny their feelings for each other. Readers had to have a bit of patient comparing to other Beauty and the Beast retellings, yet the author did a good job making their feelings grow subtly and steadily. Don’t expect anything too quick or overly swoony, and then you will be able to enjoy this romance.
(Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying their relationship was not swoony! The sweetest thing was always worth the wait, and I don’t want to spoil that for you!)
The only thing I’m a bit disappointed with is the slow pacing. As mentioned above, the magical system can be a little bit confusing at first and it took a while to explained. Only when Tevin and Merit first met (around 25% in the book), did things really start to get more interesting. Also, there were some details in the book that seemed unnecessary, but I received this copy quite early (around January), so these little issues were likely fixed already.
Curses is a creative reimagination of Beauty and the Beast. It’s got great world-building, funny characters, and a slow-burn romance. While it is not the best B&B retellings I’ve read, it’s certainly the most creative one and quite enjoyable.
2. Witty and charismatic characters