Young Adult Book Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Title: Exquisite Captive
Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Author: Heather Demetrios
WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads
Genre Type:  Fantasy, Romance, Inspire by Arabian Nights
Publication Date: October 7th 2014
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Balzer+Bray

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.

At the heart of the story is a captive vs captor, master vs slave tale, yet it is more complicated than that. There is the fantasy element of the jinn, the revolution happening in their home world, a romance blooming between Nalia and a sworn enemy of her people, a magical artifact of untold powers and an unknown villain whom cast danger and threatens our heroine beyond her captor. This is a layered tale, one that holds your attention.

Exquisite Captive takes place in a modern setting, yet has flashbacks and crossover moments that brilliantly shine with descriptions of Arjinna, home world to the jinn. Caste systems, magick from the elements, court-life, the rebellion, and the history of the jinn are all interwoven. I was fascinated by the differences in the jinn, and how they interacted with the elements and why some were more powerful than others. The vivid descriptions held me spellbound. I would have loved more time spent in Arjinna!

Nalia- a heroine that brings new meaning to resilience, as a jinni of great and ancient power she is heir to the Ghan Aisouri, a rare race of females who are able to access the power of all four elements. Captured in her teens, the age when Ghan Aisouri come into their fullest power, she is bound to her captor through a talisman and forced to do his bidding. She remains determined to free herself, and though there are moments of dark despair and conflicting emotional twists, there is ever present in Nalia a snarky, vivaciousness that can't be repressed.

Every day she battle with her master.
It was these small victories, these little moments of sovereignty, that reminded Nalia who she was.
I am Ghan Aisouri.
The blood of empresses flowed in her veins.
Nalia couldn't let herself forget that. Not now. Not ever.

Raif Djan'Urbi- a Djan jinni. Handsome, roguish, and the rebel leader of the Arjinnan revolution. As a former serf he has  risen to power, a rebel full of passion and life, determined to set his people free. Enemy to Nalia, yet he holds the very key, the power of unbinding that can set her free-at a price ... Raif is nearly the opposite in manner as Malek. Warmth, honesty, and sarcastic-playfulness and all things bright that attract Nalia to Raif. These two do quite the dance of enemies that turns to undeniable attraction as mutual need of each other throws them together.

"Who sent you?" she asked.
A corner of his lips turned up. "I sent myself. I'm sure it's hard for you to imagine a Djan with free will, but I assure you, it's possible."
"Who are you, serfling?" Nalia asked, her breath suddenly shallow.
The Djan's eyes narrowed. "Not a serf," he said, holding up his bare wrists.
He paused and gave a pointed look at Nalia's shackles, just long enough for her to blush.
"I'm called Raif.
Raif Djan'Urbu."

Malek Alzahabi- the epitome of a villain. Highly intelligent, powerful, cunning, manipulative, possessive, a predator. When I think of Malek I think of a dark, sensuous panther. The embodiment of danger and beguilement. He represents to Nalia all that she hates. Yet, as he holds her very life in his very hands, he is also all that she has, thus the dangerous allure of those moments of hope, gentleness, and affection. I think Demetrios did a wonderful job of giving the readers a truly complex, multifaceted villain that brings out SO many different feels to her readers. I would say Malek in a sense is really the star in this story. That's not to say I liked many of his actions, but through him the story gained such an added emotional depth. I love a well-written villain, one that epitomizes perfectly all their shades of darkness, one that draws us in as much as repels us. Malek is that. And Nalia is bound in his golden, gilded cage.

Malek brought his lips to her ear, smiling as her heart threw itself against his chest.
"I care, hayati. More than you realize."
He reached for her hand and she placed it in his, unthinking-a natural reflex. After so much time in captivity, her body was accustomed to obeying his every command.
He brought the inside of her wrist to his lips.
Nalia forced herself to meet his eyes, though their hidden depths frightened her. It wasn't just because her fate was entirely in his hands-Malek Alzahabi was unpredictable at best and sadistic at worst.
Just when she thought she'd figured out how to play nice, he changed the rules of the game.

A unique and exciting debut that brings inspiration from the classic Arabian Nights. Exquisite Captive gave me tons of feels with a strong, resilient heroine torn between captivity and breaking free. With two magnetic adversaries, an infuriating rogue and a dark villain, elemental magic, and vivid beginnings of a fantasy world, Exquisite Captive gave this reader something new, different, slightly dark and edgy that I devoured.

My Rating: 4 stars. I really liked it.

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Balzer+Bray in exchange for my fair and honest review. Thank you Balzer+Bray for the review opportunity!