Summary: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?
Heather Demetrios’ Something Real is one of my favorite books of 2014 thus far, so to say I had high expectations for Exquisite Captive would be an understatement. Unfortunately, however, I can’t say that Exquisite Captive clicked with me the way Something Real did; and I finished the book with an overall sense of mediocrity.
Our protagonist, Nalia is a jinni that lives in the ancient land of Arjinna. Nalia’s entire race of jinni was killed out in a recent revolution. Nalia, however, was able to flee, making her the soul survivor. However, her life came at a cost: the only way she was able to free herself was by becoming a slave on Earth to a brutal master.
Nalia is one fierce protagonist, and I absolutely admired her for it. Being the sole survivor of a rebellion that killed her entire race is something that continually haunts her dreams and her thoughts; and, seeing her troubled and violent history, you can’t blame her. It are these events that shape her into such a determined and fierce character, and I loved her for it.
With Arjinna, Demetrios has created an absolutely fantastic world.
There is an intricate amount of backstory here that makes Arjinna seem almost…real. The descriptions of the different types of jinni there are and the powers they have, and the politics between them, added an extraordinary layer of complexity to an already intriguing story, and I really enjoyed that. However, there were definitely times when I felt that the information was a bit too info-dumped for my liking, especially in the beginning, but it smooths out as the story progresses.
My main problem was the romance. Not only is there a love triangle –
– but one of the love interests constantly abuses Nalia. In fact, the love interest is none other than her master Malek. He constantly forces Nalia to do things she doesn’t want to, hurts her physically, and even, at some points, tortures her. Yet, Nalia continually makes excuses for his behavior, and continually thinks of him in a romantic way.
The other love interest – Raif – is a slight bit better in terms of not abusing Nalia, but I still found that their relationship was a bit too much like insta-love for my taste.
All in all, I felt this was extremely creative plotwise and had wonderfully elaborate world-building; but, unfortunately, I just didn’t admire the abusive romance and love triangle.