Would you risk it all to change your destiny?
The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world.
But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

I wish I could say that I absolutely loathed reading this book – it has enough faults to support that – but there is something about it that I can’t help but appreciate.

So, the basis of the plot: Kelsey gets a summer job working at a circus where she is enlisted into the care of Dhiren, the lonely and illusive white tiger that seems too tame to be a tiger and smells astonishingly of jasmine and sandalwood. As Kelsey grows close to the tiger, reading him poems and stroking his fur through the bars of his small cage, she can’t help but feel his loneliness. So when she is asked to accompany the animal as he is taken back into the wilderness of India, she doesn’t hesitate in accepting. But, when her ride leaves her alone on the side of a road in a small Indian village, she begins to notice something is very different about her tiger. Ren just happens to be a man, trapped in the body of a tiger for 300 years. And so begins their quest to free Ren from the spell which binds him to his animal form.

I had a number of issues with this plot, mainly that the Indian prince can only be saved by the American girl, with no secret Indian ancestors or links to India whatsoever – not exactly discouraging the belief that Eastern Nations are somehow 'lesser' than Western... It also annoyed me how everything just turned out the way it was meant to be; the cryptic old man has a dream about a girl and could see nothing about her physical appearance except, hey, she has dark hair and dark eyes. I feel like Houck made everything that happened to Kelsey just work out in a way that it felt too textbook to be surprising or even interesting.

There is also a bit of an instalove thing going on in this book. For some reason, every male in this story is attracted to the (self-proclaimed) average-looking Kelsey and they find themselves falling for her within moments of laying eyes on her. The weirdest case is when Kelsey finds herself unnaturally tethered to a tiger and, after finding out that Ren is actually a male of the human species, she finds herself undeniably drawn to him...

Now, on to our leading lady – though I don’t think I can consider her a leader in any way, or a lady for that matter. This female character was put into an amazing plot concept with heaps of potential for presenting a strong female lead with a realistic reaction to such unrealistic occurrences, but Kelsey fails to deliver on both points. Kelsey isn’t the kickass heroine that she could have been, constantly requiring the aid of the men around her (who make up about 65% of all characters in this novel) to get her out of the messes she gets into. If I could summarise this novel with a single quote, it’d be this one:
Ren saved my life. Again.

And it doesn’t get any better than that. An emotional wreak who has serious trouble making decisions, managing her emotions and dealing with her fears, Kelsey’s lack of self-control (and dignity) almost gets her killed on numerous occasions – she was just lucky a strapping Indian lad was never more than a scream of terror away. If there is one thing that infuriated me about this book, it is Kelsey. She is quiet possibly the most annoying character I have ever read – I couldn’t stop myself from cringing from the second-hand embarrassment.

Not only is Kelsey completely pathetic in times of strife and horrifically ditsy but she also never stops with the incessant complaining and can’t make a decision to save her life (literally, at times).
I decided the best thing to do was be straightforward with him, and tell him the truth. That’s who I was. I faced things, got on with the hard parts, and moved on with life.

Really??? From what I recall you’ve spent the last 5 chapters having a pointless debate with yourself in order to delay the choice, which you decided upon based around your own personal insecurities, a lack of trust and your deep inability to believe that anything will ever go your way, despite the fact that everything has only ever gone your way...

And then, once she has finally made a decision (as horrible as it may be), she locks herself in a bathroom and cries on the floor. Come on girl, I am considered an emotional weakling and even I wouldn’t do that.

On to Ren. I absolutely love this feisty tiger, he is an complete dork and probably the only reason I kept reading and enjoyed this infernal novel. As a man, Ren is charming and sweet and gentle (perhaps a bit too sweet at times but I am willing to forgive him).  And as a tiger, he is mischievous, loveable and cheeky - the cutest being to ever be.
Just then, Ren galloped out of the jungle and took a flying leap. All five hundred pounds of his white tiger body landed with a splat right in the middle of the pool, sending rippling waves over to lap against my rock.

I found that I connected so much more to Ren than I did to Kelsey in this book, I felt Ren’s heartbreak, his agony and his joy.  I wanted to hurt Kelsey for hurting him.

This novel wasn’t exactly well written, it was slow at the start and too descriptive – you cross the line when you give a walk through of the character’s bedtime routines. And the dialogue! There was no mystery in anything they said, every single word was written out, the awkward small talk, the meant-to-be encouraging words of gratitude, questions about the weather and I am pretty sure the only information we got about Indian mythology was from Kelsey asking about 50 questions in one hit. It was too obvious and bland – half of the dialogue could have been taken out and it would still be as easy to understand as it is with all the uncomfortably hellos and I know it is hard’s.

Also, why on earth does every Indian person speak English like they learnt it watching the Yoda scenes in Star Wars? I can honestly tell you now that Indian people definitely do not talk like that – even those that are not near fluent in English. That is one of the things that really made me cringe.

Despite me saying all this terrible stuff about the book, I actually really liked reading it. I honestly cannot tell you why this is. From a logical perspective there is very little I can say to recommend this book – the writing isn't great, it's too descriptive, the representation of cultures is dodgy and the heroine is about as far from strong and independent as one could possibly get. But there is something endearing about the plot that you just want to keep reading, no matter how annoying it is when Kelsey gets saved for the 15 000th time or we are given far too much information surrounding her method of brushing her hair. The intrigue surrounding the plot and the way everything plays out is what kept me involved in this book.

To summarise, I honestly do not know how it is that I like this book. I couldn’t actually give you a reason but I enjoyed reading this series despite how much it infuriated me at times. Perhaps it is the gorgeous cover or intriguing storyline, I do not know. I am not going to exactly recommend this book but, if you think you could read a book where the only thing you like about it is the main guy, give it a shot.

Rating: 2.5/5

To get your hands on this book, head to Amazon or Book Depository.