Rating: 4.5 stars
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Kiran is the most graceless swan shifter in existence. The curse placed upon him causes clumsiness, no matter what he does. Copious planning and preparation mitigates that some, but there’s nothing Kiran can do to stop it completely. But when his sister, whom he loves more than anyone and who is an esteemed ballet dancer, asks Kiran to dance with her at her wedding, Kiran can’t say no. In an attempt not to make a fool of her, Kiran signs up for dance lessons.
Taj is a demon who needs to make a living in the human world, or else he’ll be doomed back to Sheol. When Kiran literally stumbles into his dance studio, Taj doesn’t even worry about where the coupon Kiran possesses came from. He’s just thrilled to finally have a student. It doesn’t hurt that Kiran is sweet and endearing and pushes all the buttons Taj didn’t even know he had. He’s going to do whatever it takes to get Kiran ready to dance with his sister.
But Taj’s past comes screaming in when his progenitor shows up out of the blue. The hold he has on Taj shouldn’t be as strong as it is, but Tajh feels compelled do as the demon demands. Kiran, meanwhile, takes a shady shortcut to dancing competency. But their pasts are more intertwined than either man can imagine, and if they don’t sort it out, they’ll never find a future together.
Cursed is the Worst is another installment in E.J. Russell’s Mythmatched universe. While it is a standalone story and the author does a good job explaining everything, I think there’s something to be said for having read the other stories in the universe. While the MCs don’t appear anywhere else, many secondary characters do and it’s nice to have their background. I also felt it fleshed out the world a bit more. So again, it’s not strictly necessary to have read them, but as I’m a fan of this world Russell created, I have no qualms about suggesting you pick them up.
One of the things I really enjoy about Russell’s books is the way she makes me care about her characters. Kiran is an absolute sweetheart, and when I learned just what happened to him as a child, it made my admiration for him grow even more. I was also impressed at how comfortable he is with his curse, and the ways he’s learned to deal with it. On the other hand, my heart just broke for Taj and I was so angry on his behalf when his old master comes calling. I wanted nothing more than for his life to work out and for his master to be caught.
On the romance side of things, Kiran and Taj’s chemistry is apparent from the first meeting. I loved how drawn to each other they were. Of course, they both thought the other was human (which Russell explains well) and the Secrecy Pact keeps them from revealing truths. But as the story progresses, so does their attraction, and the truth comes to light. But their true natures aren’t the only secret they are keeping, and another round of revelations almost derails their budding romance. I also thought this was handled well and concluded with in a satisfactory way.
This read is on the shorter side, but it was a nicely done. I would have liked to see the romance explored a little bit more, because it felt like there was more to develop between the characters once they finally got everything sorted. I would have liked to see them spend even more time together. But overall, I really enjoyed the characters, visiting this world again, and watching another couple navigate obstacles to be together. If you’re looking for a PNR with the right dash of humor, then check this one out.