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Exquisite Captive

I really wanted to love Exquisite Captive.  I would like to read a book about a jinni that I can fall completely into. Since I read and absolutely adored Heather Demetrios's Something Real earlier this year, I thought this might be the one. Alas, no such luck.

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?

What I Liked:

  • Nalia's character. She is strong, smart, and proactive. She does not accept situations as they are easily and fights for what matters to her. She is involved in a conflict between what she feels and what everyone else tells her she should be. During her early life, it was her mother and the other jinni of her kind telling her. Now it is her master, and, to a lesser extent, Raif once he arrives on the scene.
  • The relationship between Nalia and Malek, her master. This was incredibly well done. Demetrios did an excellent job of showing the psychology of such a relationship. Malek is a despicable person, but he has some good qualities as well and knows how to turn on the charm. Nalia spent two years in open rebellion against him and one in reluctant subjugation. He is now trying to change the nature of their relationship and the way Nalia, starved of any kind and loving interaction for far to long, reacts to this is completely realistic. I love how she knows and acknowledges his horridness while also feeling confused by the way she longs for the solace he offers. There is never a moment when she forgets who they both are and why there can not be a balanced relationship between them though. 
  • The politics of the jinni world and the intrigue of the Dark Caravan were fascinating.
What I Didn't Like:
  •  The world building felt superficial, as though the author threw in every thing that could possibly say JINNI! into the book, but it didn't truly feel authentic. And there was a disconnect to how the Jinni on earth were behaving for me. 
  • The multiple descriptions of skin tone with foods. Almond. Cinnamon. People are not food. Stop. This.
  • The specialness of Nalia. I like her so much as a character, but does she really have to be THE ONE AND ONLY of her kind left, completely different from all others? 
  • The convenient plot device that made any actual development of a relationship between Nalia and Raif unnecessary. Or apparently unnecessary. I could have used some development. I LIKE watching romantic relationships develop. If you're going to put a romance in a book, I want to see it develop. What's the point otherwise?
  • The writing is a bit too descriptive and detailed in places. The kind of too descriptive that found me getting bored.
Will I read the sequel? Maybe. I wasn't super excited about the end. I'm not sure I like where this is headed. This first book didn't leave me invested enough to go through a lot of drama and angst with these particular characters. 

I read an e-galley provided by the publisher, Balzer & Bray, via Edelweiss. Exquisite Captive has a release date of October 7. 


Unknown said…
This review actually makes me feel a lot better about starting this book eventually. My major worry was the "relationship" between Nalia and Malek. I was anticipating all kinds of ickiness, but it's nice that the psychology is addressed.
Brandy said…
Yes, I liked the way the psychology is handled. She feels things for him, but she really analyzes WHY and realizes that it is unhealthy. And I enjoyed the outcome of that too. :)

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