Passion. Fate. Loyalty.
Would you risk it all to change your destiny?
The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she'd be doing this summer 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.
Tiger's Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:
“I was dying. I knew it. At least the pain was gone. I wanted to tell him that I loved him. Then darkness overtook me…”
PRAISE FOR TIGER'S CURSE:
“…a sweet romance and heart-pounding adventure. I found myself cheering, squealing and biting my nails-all within a few pages. In short, Tiger's Curse is magical!”
-Becca Fitzpatrick, New York Times bestselling author of Hush, Hush
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
by William Blake
Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
The prisoner stood with his hands tied in front of him, tired, beaten, and filthy but with a proud back befitting his royal Indian heritage. His captor, Lokesh, looked on haughtily from a lavishly carved, gilded throne. Tall, white pillars stood like sentinels around the room. Not a whisper of a jungle breeze moved across the sheer draperies. All the prisoner could hear was the steady clinking of Lokesh's jeweled rings against the side of the golden chair. Lokesh looked down, eyes narrowed into contemptuous, triumphant slits.
The prisoner was the prince of an Indian kingdom called Mujulaain. Technically, his current title was Prince and High Protector of the Mujulaain Empire, but he still preferred to think of himself as just his father's son.
That Lokesh, the raja of a small neighboring kingdom called Bhreenam, had managed to kidnap the prince was not as shocking as who was sitting beside Lokesh: Yesubai, the raja's daughter and the prisoner's fiancée, and the prince's younger brother, Kishan. The captive studied all three of them but only Lokesh returned his determined gaze. Beneath his shirt, the prince's stone amulet lay cool against his skin, while anger surged through his body.
The prisoner spoke first, struggling to keep the betrayal out of his voice, "Why have you—my soon-to-be-father—treated me with such . . . inhospitality?"
Nonchalant, Lokesh affixed a deliberate smile on his face. "My dear prince, you have something I desire."
"Nothing you could want can justify this. Are our kingdoms not to be joined? Everything I have has been at your disposal. You needed only to ask. Why have you done this?"
Lokesh rubbed his jaw as his eyes glittered. "Plans change. It seems that your brother would like to take my daughter for his bride. He has promised me certain remunerations if I help him achieve that goal."
The prince turned his attention to Yesubai, who, with cheeks aflame, assumed a demure, submissive pose with her head bowed. His arranged marriage to Yesubai was supposed to have ushered in an era of peace between the two kingdoms. He had been away for the last four months overseeing military operations on the far side of the empire and had left his brother to watch over the kingdom.
I guess Kishan was watching a little bit more than just the kingdom.
The prisoner strode fearlessly forward, faced Lokesh, and called out, "You have fooled us all. You are like a coiled cobra that has been hiding in his basket, waiting for the moment to strike."
He widened his glance to include his brother and his fiancée. "Don't you see? Your actions have freed the viper, and we are bitten. His poison now runs through our blood, destroying everything."
Lokesh laughed disdainfully and spoke, "If you agree to surrender your piece of the Damon Amulet, I might be persuaded to allow you to live."
"To live? I thought we were bartering for my bride."
"I'm afraid your rights as a betrothed husband have been usurped. Perhaps I haven't been clear. Your brother will have Yesubai."
The prisoner clenched his jaw, and said simply, "My father's armies would destroy you if you killed me."
Lokesh laughed. "He certainly would not destroy Kishan's new family. We will simply placate your dear father and tell him that you were the victim of an unfortunate accident."
He stroked his short, stippled beard and then clarified, "Of course, you understand, that even should I allow you live, I will rule both king¬doms." Lokesh smiled. "If you defy me I will forcibly remove your piece of the amulet." Kishan leaned toward Lokesh and protested stiffly, "I thought we had an arrangement. I only brought my brother to you because you swore that you would not kill him! You were to take the amulet. That's all."
Lokesh shot out his hand as quickly as a snake and grabbed Kishan's wrist. "You should have learned by now that I take whatever I want. If you would prefer the view from where your brother is standing, I would be happy to accommodate you."
Kishan shifted in his chair but kept silent.
Lokesh continued. "No? Very well, I have now amended our former arrangement. Your brother will be killed if he does not comply with my wishes, and you will never marry my daughter unless you hand over your piece of the amulet to me as well. This private arrangement of ours can easily be revoked, and I can have Yesubai married to a different man—a man of my choosing. Perhaps an old sultan would cool her blood. If you want to remain close to Yesubai, you will learn to be submissive."
Lokesh squeezed Kishan's wrist until it cracked loudly. Kishan didn't react at all.
Flexing his fingers and slowly rolling his wrist, Kishan sat back, raised a hand to touch the engraved amulet piece hidden underneath his own shirt, and made eye contact with his brother. An unspoken message passed between them.
The brothers would deal with each other later, but Lokesh's actions meant war, and the needs of the kingdom were a priority for both.
Obsession pumped up Lokesh's neck, throbbed at his temple, and settled behind his black, serpentine eyes. Those same eyes dissected the prisoner's face, probing, assessing for weakness. Angered to the point of action, Lokesh jumped to his feet. "So be it!"
Lokesh pulled a shiny knife with a jeweled hilt from his robe and roughly yanked up the sleeve of the prisoner's now filthy, once-white Jodhpuri coat. The ropes twisted on his wrists and he grunted in pain as Lokesh drew the knife across his arm. The cut was deep enough that blood welled up, spilled over the edge, and dripped onto the tiled floor. Lokesh tore a wooden talisman from around his neck and placed it beneath the prisoner's arm. Blood dripped from the knife onto the charm, and the engraved symbol glowed a fiery red before pulsing an unnatural white light.
The light shot toward the prince with groping fingers that pierced his chest and clawed its way through his body. Though strong, he wasn't prepared for the pain. The captive screamed as his body suddenly became inflamed with a prickly heat and he fell to the floor.
He reached out with his hands to brace himself, but he managed only to scratch feebly on the cold, white tile of the floor. The prince watched helplessly as both Yesubai and his brother attacked Lokesh, who shoved both back viciously. Yesubai fell to the ground, hitting her head hard on the dais. The prince was aware that his brother was near, overtaken by grief as the life drained from Yesubai's limp body. Then he was aware of nothing except the pain.
was standing on a precipice. Technically, I was just standing in line at a temp job office in Oregon, but it felt like a precipice. Childhood, high school, and the illusion that life was good and times were easy were behind me. Ahead loomed the future: college, a variety of summer jobs to help pay for tuition, and the probability of a lonely adulthood. The line inched forward. I'd been waiting for what seemed like hours trying to get a lead on a summer job. When it was finally my turn, I approached the desk of a bored, tired job placement worker who was on the phone. The woman gestured me closer and indicated that I should sit down. After she hung up, I handed her some forms and she mechanically began the interview.
"Kelsey. Kelsey Hayes."
"Seventeen, almost eighteen. My birthday's coming soon."
She stamped the forms. "Are you a high school graduate?"
"Yes. I graduated just a couple of weeks ago. I plan on attending Chemeketa this fall." "Parents' names?" "Madison and Joshua Hayes, but my guardians are Sarah and Michael Neilson."
Here we go again, I thought. Somehow explaining my life never got easier.
"Yes. My parents are . . . deceased. They died in a car accident when I was a freshman."
She bent over some paperwork and scribbled for a long time. I grimaced, wondering what she could be writing that was taking so long.
"Miss Hayes, do you like animals?"
"Sure. Umm, I know how to feed them . . ." Is anyone lamer than me? Way to talk myself out of being hired. I cleared my throat. "I mean, sure, I love animals."
The woman didn't really seem to care about my response, and she handed me a posting for a job.
The job was for the Circus Maurizio, a small family-run circus at the fairgrounds. I remembered getting a coupon for it at the grocery store and I'd even considered offering to take my foster parents' kids, Rebecca, who is six years old, and Samuel, who is four, so that Sarah and Mike could have some time to themselves. But then I lost the coupon and forgot all about it.
"So, do you want the job or what?" the woman asked impatiently.
"A tiger, huh? Sounds interesting! Are there elephants, too? Because I have to draw the line at scooping up elephant droppings." I giggled quietly at my own joke, but the woman didn't so much as crack a smile. Since I had no other options, I told her that I would do it. She gave me a card with an address and she instructed me to be there the next day by 6:00 a.m.
I wrinkled my nose. "They need me at six in the morning?"
The worker just gave me a look and shouted "Next!" at the line shuffling behind me.
What had I gotten myself into? I thought as I climbed into Sarah's borrowed hybrid and headed home. I sighed. It could be worse. I could be flipping burgers tomorrow. Circuses are fun. I just hope there are no elephants.
Living with Sarah and Mike was okay for the most part. They gave me a lot more freedom than most other kids' parents, and I think we have a healthy respect for each other—well, as least as much as adults can respect a seventeen-year-old anyway. I helped babysit their kids and never got into trouble. It wasn't the same as being with my parents, but we were still a family of sorts.
I parked the car carefully in the garage and headed into the house to find Sarah attacking a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. I dropped my bag on a chair and went to get a glass of water.
"Making vegan cookies again, I see. What's the special occasion?" I asked.
Sarah jammed the wooden spoon into the dense dough several times as if the spoon were an icepick. "It's Sammy's turn to bring treats for his playdate."
I stifled a snigger by coughing.
She narrowed her eyes at me shrewdly. "Kelsey Hayes, just because your mother was the best cookie baker in world doesn't mean I can't make a decent treat."
"It's not your skills I doubt, it's your ingredients," I said, picking up a jar. "Substitute nut butter, flax, protein powder, and agave. I'm surprised you don't put recycled paper in those things. Where's the chocolate?"
"I use carob sometimes."
"Carob is not chocolate. It tastes like brown chalk. If you're going to make cookies, you should make—"
"I know. I know. Pumpkin chocolate chip or double chocolate peanut butters. They're really bad for you, Kelsey," she said with a sigh.
"But they taste so good."
I watched Sarah lick a finger and continued. "By the way, I got a job. I'm going to be cleaning up and feeding animals at a circus. It's at the fairgrounds."
"Good for you! That sounds like it will be a great experience," Sarah perked up. "What kind of animals?"
"Uh, dogs mostly. And I think there's a tiger. But I probably won't have to do anything dangerous. I'm sure they have professional tiger people for that stuff. But I do have to start really early and will be sleeping there for the next two weeks."
"Hmmm," Sarah paused contemplatively. "Well we're just a phone call away if you need us. Would you mind taking the brussels sprouts casserole a la ‘recycled newspaper' out of the oven?"
I set the stinky casserole in the center of the table while she popped her cookie sheets in the oven and called the kids to dinner. Mike came in, set down his briefcase, and kissed his wife on the cheek.
"What's that . . . smell?" he asked suspiciously.
"Brussels sprouts casserole," I answered.
"And I made cookies for Sammy's playgroup," Sarah announced proudly. "I'll save the best one for you."
Mike shot me a knowing look that Sarah caught. She snapped her dishtowel at his thigh.
"If that's the attitude you and Kelsey are bringing to the table then the two of you get cleanup duty tonight."
"Aw, honey. Don't be mad." He kissed Sarah again and wrapped his arms around her, trying his best to get out of the task.
I took that as my cue to exit. As I snuck out of the kitchen, I heard Sarah giggle.
Someday, I'd like a guy to try and talk himself out of cleanup duty with me in the same way, I thought and smiled. Apparently, Mike negotiated well because he got put-the-kids-to-bed duty instead of cleanup, while I was left to do dishes on my own. I didn't mind really but as soon as I was done, I decided it was my bedtime too. Six o'clock in the morning was going to come awfully early.
Quietly, I climbed the stairs to my bedroom. It was small and cozy, with just a simple bed, a mirrored dresser, a desk for my computer and homework, a closet, my clothes, my books, a basket of different colored hair ribbons, and my grandmother's quilt.
My grandmother made that quilt when I was little. I was very young, but I remember her stitching it together, the same metal thimble always on her finger. I traced a butterfly on the worn-out, raggedy-at-the-corners quilt, remembering how I had snuck the thimble out of her sewing kit one night just to feel her near me. Even though I was a teenager, I still slept with the quilt every night.
I changed into my pajamas, shook my hair free from its braid, and brushed it out, flashing back to how mom used to do it for me while we talked.
Crawling under my warm covers, I set my alarm for, ugh, 4:30 a.m. and wondered what I could possibly be doing with a tiger so early in the morning and how I would survive the three-ring circus that was already my life. My stomach growled.
I glanced at my nightstand and the two pictures I kept out. One picture was of the three of us: Mom, Dad, and me at a New Year's celebration. I had just turned twelve. My long brown hair had been curled but in the picture it drooped because I'd thrown a fit about using hairspray. I'd smiled in the shot, despite the fact that I had a gleaming row of silver braces. I was grateful for my straight white teeth now, but I'd absolutely hated those braces back then.
I touched the glass, placing my thumb briefly over the image of my pale face. I'd always longed to be svelte, tan, blond, and blue eyed but I had the same brown eyes as my father and the tendency toward chubbiness of my mother.
The other was a candid shot of my parents at their wedding. There was a beautiful water fountain in the background, and they were young, happy, and smiling at each other. I wanted that for myself someday. I wanted someone to look at me like that.
Flopping over on my stomach and stuffing my pillow under my cheek, I drifted off thinking about my mom's cookies.
That night, I dreamed I was being chased through the jungle, and when I turned to look at my pursuer, I was startled to see a large tiger. My dream self laughed and smiled and then turned and ran faster. The sound of gentle, padded paws raced along after me, beating in time with my heart.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Extremely entertaining, couldn't put it down. Fell in love with the characters. Felt very connected to the story and the characters while reading, like when they were happy in the story, I was happy; when they were sad, I was sad- it's a great book that can do that to you and make you feel like you aren't just reading a story, but you feel like you are there in real life and it's all very real to you. This book has great characters, excitement, adventures, action, love, everything you need for a great read. I cannot wait to read the whole series!
The first part of the book was slow getting into but I instantly started to like it once they had gotten to India. It really started to pick up pace and was thoroughly enjoyable. However, towards the end I felt the need to strangle Kelsey the main character. She completely changed, and went from being a OK nice gal to a angsty, whinny, self-conscious, bitty who was not only annoying but mean to poor ol' Ren. I also hated that it had a 'to be continued' aspect about the ending that made me want to rip my hair out. Don't get me wrong, I liked this book and will be reading the next, I just hope she stops being stupid.
I love this book, it's better than Twilight. The characters are encaging, wonderfully witty, the scenes are vivid and the action is amazing! Either boys/men or girls/women would love this book. We follow Kelsey as she starts off by graduating High School and starting a summer job, then to India where all the action takes place. There's romance, but it's not over done. I love this book and the second, Tiger's Quest, and I am eagerly waiting for the third book, Tiger's Voyage to be released sometime this month (we hope). (Just so you know, I don't think they have the right cover for Tiger's Quest, but it's here).
this book is for anyone looking for a good adventure/love story kind of book. it is clean with no cussing or inappropriate parts. im a major reader. i found this books to be one of my favorites. i read it in a little less than two days. theres around 360 pages. it was very easy to get into and kept me guessing; i was sad when it ended :( i cant wait for the second one to come out in June!!!!! i highly reccomend this book.
Step aside all you Vampires! Enter a strong and fiercely passionate Indian prince who will sweep you off your feet and have your heart racing. Great story that will have you hooked in moments and a love story that will actually have you squealing out loud. (And yes ladies and gentlemen, he does have a brother! ;)
I loved this book. It is a great adventure but it is also a great story. I could not put this book down, it keeps you turning page after page after page. I love the main characters. Kelsey is brave and she knows what she wants. Ren is sweet, kind and all around amazing.The style of writing is very interesting. This book is filled with unexpected twists and turns that will have you very surprised. This is a really good book and i can't wait for the next book in the series to come out.
I loved this book! I couldn't put it down and kept thinking about the characters. I am an avid reader and this is by far one of my favorites. It has everything: adventure, fantasy, magic, romance and I love the Oregon references and the imagination. This series is better, IMO, then the ever so popular Twilight Series. Great for young adults: no swearing, sex or inappropriate material at all! Thanks and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!
This book is full of romance and adventure,love and risks. I am not soeoe who likes romance novels but this book caught my eye and I couldn't stop after starting.The adventure in the book made it non-boring like other romance novels.If you love adventure and romance you'll read this book front to back in 1 day!!!!!
I LOVED this book! Tiger's Curse moved quickly from the first page to the last. It was hard to put down at night and sleep. I woke early to read more before my kids got out of bed. This was not your typical Teen romance. To me it felt more adult and something most girls have gone through and asked themselves while dating at any age. There is danger around every corner and a couple of princes to boot! I loved how the characters seemed like real ppl, very down to earth and would just tell it like it is and not beat around the bush! I found myself feeling everything the characters felt and did. You feel like you are there with them and not many books have been able to do that to me. You don't feel like an outsider looking in, you become the characters. I can not wait to see what/where our next adventure takes us and what creatures we will encounter along the way! June ca not come quickly enough! My summer reading looks to be very interesting!
This book is amazing. It's a great story, full of love adventure and magic. At first i thought it was too fast-paced but soon i realized it was necessary. India is a very interesting setting that i have never read in a YA book before. The way Houck portrayed her main characters helps the reader fall in love with them immediately. I found myself experiencing Kelsey's fear, frustration and love for Ren, something that i have never accomplished before. I was sad to reach the end and can't wait for the Tiger's Quest!
Colleen Houck puts in a little Frog Prince and the Twilight Saga mixed altogether. When I first started this book I was not able to put it down. Each chapter will leave you hanging on to your seat. I can't wait for Tiger's Quest!!!! Bring it on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have always wanted an author to write a book that took place in India. Colleen Houck you made my dreams come true and you made this book so good. Its a mix between the better Parts of The Twilight Saga and The Percy Jackson Series! The best thing is I am Hindu so I can tell what some of The Hindi words mean and you incorporated Indian Gods making it all the better! Can't wait for Tiger's Quest!!! :)
I loved this book and can't wait for the rewrite. It is incredible. For fans of Twilight I'd say you can forget that series and have a new obsession. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story. I read it in week on my commute!
this book was amazing. romance, and dangers, along with a mysterious beautiful white tiger and an even more beautiful man. i cant wait for the second one to come out! i read this in one day! it is beautifully written, and so well put together. you could practically feel their emotions as your own. it was amazing.
This book was one of the best books I have ever read. Sorry, Twilight fans but I think this is better. I loved that the author told the stories of some of the Indian Gods. I really enjoyed this book. LOVE IT!!! CAN'T WAIT FOR TIGER'S QUEST
I Loved This Book~The Tiger Idea is so adorable~I absolutely Love Ren~He is Charming~Sweet~protective~strong~ A prince~A tiger :0) Everything that the perfect guy would be~and then Enters Kishan~He Edgy and Defiantly a black Tiger~*~ I can NOT wait for June to get here~*~ Id love to be in Kelseys Shoes!!!
I read this book when it was a self published novel and was absolutely blown away! I could not stop reading it and devoured it in no time. With a MC that is mature and likeable, and a very desireable love interest, this book kept me reading well into the night. I highly recommend it, and have to say that it is a YA book that I would recommend to adults and young adults alike. I think Kelsey is the kind of character that I would want my daughter to admire and want to be like. If you are a fan of adventure, mystery and romance, you can't go wrong with Tiger's Curse!
Just stop saying its twilight. Twilight sucks. Tigers Curse rocks.
I loved this exotic romantic Indiana Jones-esque adventure! A great ride and escape! Kelsey is a good MC, not as annoying as other MCs I've read, and she does mature and develop in this novel. It's refreshing to see an author embrace tigers, rather than the usual vampires and werewolves so prevalent in YA lit. The sweet romance was also refreshing. Overall, it was well written and enjoyable. I'm definitely holding my breath for the next installment!
Tiger's Curse: AMAZING I am an avid reader and very (very) picky about my favorite books. This blew my expectations out of the water. Colleen Houck has somehow managed to set my bar (of expectations) almost impossibly high. I am constantly trying to find a series that matches Tiger's Curse- I have a feeling that it will be a long time until I find as good of a series as this!
I first got the sample of this book and i never touched but then one day i sat down and bought it and boy am i glad i did!! i love that from the moment i picked it up i could not put it down. i was taken to a whole another world and i love the India culture so i loved reading about some of the mythology. I will be looking forward for the next book hopefully june comes soon!!!
I really wanted to read this book and it is awesome!!! I highly recmmend it!
this book was so good! i've always wanted to read a book about tigers,and this one is the one to read.it was sad at the ending and almost made me cry.but in a good way,sorta,.well this book is a must read and if your not sure about reading it like i was,read it,it is worth every single penny. :)
This book was wonderful to immerse myself into. I say the general audience for this book is high school and above. There is a bit of mature content that younger aged people may find a bit graphic. I read a few sample chapter online, and I immediately loved the plot and the characters. My favorite part of this book was the relationship Ren and Kelsey shared throughout the book. Their relationship moved me so much I keep going back and re-reading parts of the book. The mystery of the book, also gives the plot an interesting twist in the novel. Overall, this book is one you have to read and I am looking forward to the other novels to release!
Think "Aladdin" meets "Indiana Jones". I loved this! I am pretty hard on books, being a Children's Bookseller. If I don't love it, I give up on it and move on to the next book I want to read. That didn't happen with "Tiger's Curse". This book has a unique premise, gripping characters and a cliffhanger that is killing me. Great teen read for girls and guys.