Exquisite Captive: Review

October 21, 2014 2014, 4 star books, fantasy, Peyton, romance 32 ★★★★

Exquisite Captive: ReviewExquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on October 7, 2014
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 480 pages
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light

Finally, a paranormal romance where the focus is on the paranormal and not a human who unwittingly stumbles upon it. Exquisite Captive is a breath of fresh air. It has jinni in it. Jinni! This book is full of unique, immersive mythology, swooning romance, and the importance of free will.

Although we briefly go into the heads of a few different characters, at the heart of it this story is about Nalia. Nalia is a jinni, and not just that. She is the last surviving member of the ruling class of jinni, called the Ghan Aisouri, meaning she is one of the most powerful jinni alive. After escaping the slaughter of her people by the fire-wielding Ifrit she is sold into the jinni slave trade, called the Dark Caravan, and enslaved to Malek, a man who never seems to age and refuses to use his third wish, which is the only way to free her.

There is some stuff going on that hints at the larger plot of the series—the new empress of Nalia’s homeland has sent an assassin to kill her; Raif, the leader of the jinn revolution, wants her help to overthrow the Ifrit. But, the story is really about freedom and power. Nalia spends most of the book coming to terms with the horrible things the Ghan Aisouri did to the lower castes, and how she can atone for them while still staying true to what she is. She herself is enslaved much like the lower jinn were once under her, and she has to battle the conflicting emotions she has regarding her master. Nalia was a great female protagonist—she was strong, but she wasn’t perfect. Sometimes she fell and sometimes she did the wrong thing, but everything she did she did for the people she loved and what she thought was right. Even when I didn’t agree with what she did I understood why she did it.

There is a love triangle, though, which readers will either hate or love. There is Raif, the leader of the revolution between the enslaved lower caste jinn and the Ghan Aisouri, now against the Ifrit who took over. He is passionate about what he believes is right, which is that everyone she be free, and fights his attraction to Nalia almost as much as she fights her attraction to him. I actually really liked Raif. Much like Nalia he does what he has to for what he believes is right and to protect those he loves, even if it goes against what he wants.

The other side of the triangle is Malek, Nalia’s master. He’s the bad boy with a past, who is usually awful but sometimes not. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan. I usually love the boy boy characters, but I just couldn’t look past the fact that he enslaved her for years and refused to free her even after developing feelings for her. He did horrible things to her, including basically torturing her by trapping her in an enchanted bottle for months, and a tortured past wasn’t enough for me to look past that. Even though I didn’t like him, I was still interested in the tumultuous relationship between him and Nalia. From start to finish she is conflicted about him because of what he’s done to her in the past and how he treats her in the present. No matter how close they got the story never forgot the huge power imbalance between them. I thought the subject matter was handled as well as it could be in the story.

The magic and world was very fresh and unique. I loved learning about how the wish-making magic worked, what the world, Arjinna, the jinni lived in was like, the culture of the different castes. My only wish was that we could actually go to Arjinna in this book, but I can wait. The little glimpses we got of it were beautifully described and just enough to hold me over for the next book.

I would recommend Exquisite Captive for anyone looking for a fresh fantasy world, well-developed characters, some steamy romance, and a plot that will make you think long after you’ve finished. I really enjoyed this one and am looking forward to book two.

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Have you read Exquisite Captive? What did you think?

32 Responses to “Exquisite Captive: Review”

  1. Jenn

    Just read this one based on your recommendation. I really enjoyed it! Good world-building/wish-building and definitely great romance writing. :)

  2. J. Oh

    I hadn’t heard about this book yet, but I’m definitely intrigued! Lovely review.

  3. Brittany T

    I really enjoyed this one and am glad you did as well. The world was so rich it made me want to be a jinni ( a free one of course). I don’t particularly mind love triangles but I don’t think this was really one to begin with. It was kind of what Nalia felt she had to do vs what she ends up wanting. There might have been stirrings but I think it was more out of motivation to be free then anything else. I also think this was well executed. I like that the men it weren’t ever pitted against each other. Also well said about the paranormal taking the center stage vs am unsuspecting human stumbling into it. It was great to get the flip side still set in our world. I really enjoyed her writing and am excited to read my arc of I’ll meet you there. Great review Peyton.
    Brittany T recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

  4. Layla

    So, on the one hand, I’m really interested in books that advertise themselves as based on the Arabian Nights. (Anything set in a Middle Eastern setting, or a fantasy of one, I’m usually interested in – for better or for worse, as this can sometimes be super problematic.)

    But on the other hand, I’m not sure how I’d feel about a love triangle where one party abuses another. It sounds like the book acknowledges how screwed up Nalia’s relationship to Malek is, but meh, I don’t know how I’d feel about him being a legitimate choice as a love interest (it’s maybe different if Nalia is trying to sort through her conflicted feelings about him; another thing entirely if the book wants us to see him as a real choice as a partner).

    So, I’m cautiously interested! Great review, Peyton.
    Layla recently posted…The Body Electric: Review

    • Peyton

      Yes, their relationship is pretty much all Nalia trying to figure out her feelings that are mostly hatred, but sometimes something else. I don’t think it’s really a true love triangle because it’s pretty clear who she’s going to end up with (in my opinion) and it is very clear about how a relationship with such a power imbalance/history can’t go anywhere good. I actually really liked that aspect, if only because it addressed something I don’t see talked about as much in YA, particularly paranormal.

      It’s strange because while the jinni home world definitely draws upon the Middle East it isn’t actually the Middle East. Sometimes I thought the descriptions got a little too “exotic” sounding, but it was enough of its own thing that it didn’t really bother me.

      I’ll be interested to know what you think of this one! :)
      Peyton recently posted…The Body Electric: Review

  5. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’m really happy you loved this, Peyton. I enjoyed it too although I had to read it twice to enjoy it because the first time was confusing.
    I loved the world too and Nalia was great. Like you said, she wasn’t perfect which made her very human, in my opinion. :)
    As for the love triangle, I talked to the author about it and she’s repeatedly told me that it isn’t love triangle, which appeased me because she sounded genuine about it. I would have been a bit disturbed if Malek had been the love interest because like you said, it’s difficult to forget that he enslaved her for years and then threw her across a wall when he got mad.
    Lovely review! :)
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (91) : Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine & Siren’s Fury by Mary Weber

    • Peyton

      Oh, I’m glad to hear about your conversation with the author. For the most part I didn’t consider it a love triangle either, but there were one or two sections that made me unsure haha. I know I’m definitely going to reread this too in the near future since there is just so much going on in the story and in the background that I think is going to come up again later in the series.
      Peyton recently posted…The Body Electric: Review

    • Peyton

      I can see what some of the critiques might be, but overall I really liked this. The world is very interesting and the way magic works (especially with wishing) is just so cool. I hope you end up liking it! :)
      Peyton recently posted…Exquisite Captive: Review

  6. Nikki

    I love stories about Jinni! Plus Arabian Nights is one of my fave classics. I’ll have to pick this up.

  7. Tari

    This one sounds very interesting! The love triangles makes me a bit wary though, but all the rest seems brilliant so I think I could go over it.
    Tari recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday #19

    • Peyton

      I wasn’t a huge fan of the love triangle aspect, but I was still very interested in everything going on between Nalia and both of the guys, so I think you will still enjoy it. :)
      Peyton recently posted…Exquisite Captive: Review

    • Peyton

      I would give it a try anyway. I actually really enjoyed this book. The love triangle was easily overlooked for me because the fantasy world of the jinni was so interesting and all the characters were so great.
      Peyton recently posted…Exquisite Captive: Review

    • Peyton

      This won’t disappoint you then! Even though I love all the jinni stuff, I think my favorite thing about this book was how it talked about imbalances of power and the importance of having free will. I think that’s what made it transcend being an entertaining paranormal to being something I really enjoyed and would want want to reread. Hope you like it. :)
      Peyton recently posted…Exquisite Captive: Review