Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Release Date - October 7, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  480 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
Jinni (or genie) inspired novels have always been something that fascinated me. They are typically hit or miss for me in terms of enjoyment. Exquisite Captive has a fantastic balance of everything I wanted, and has the added bonus of Heather Demetrios' engaging writing style. In other words, this was a definite hit for me.

The element that will grab you right from the beginning is the world building. It's obviously something that Heather took her time with and plotted out. Everything from the backstory of the main character, to the political elements, to the underground culture the jinni of the dark caravan enjoy. It meshed our world with this magical world that Nalia and the rest of the jinni inhabit effortlessly. It pops off the pages in a way that really worked, and allowed me to envision this world Heather created.

Nalia is neither strong nor weak. She's neither passive or aggressive. She's a survivor. She strives, and stumbles, but tries again. She uses things to her advantage where she can. She has a vicious side, and isn't afraid to lash out when an opportunity arises. She knows when to fight and when to concede. Freedom, and it's cost plague Nalia's thoughts and actions. Her longing for freedom is completely consuming. It is an ache that you can feel through the pages. She is desperate for it as if it were air. She's a character I grew to really like, and felt I could understand her motivations and actions.

Heather's jinni are powerful. They are capable of granting your deepest wish, or your greatest nightmare. To have this immense power and be shackled is a theme that ties into every aspect of the novel. The characters never forget it and neither do the readers. It's easy to see the toll slavery would take on someone, and what it would do to their spirit. This not so hidden inspiration is threaded throughout the novel, and is one of it's most thought provoking aspects. You can see the influence the all too real slave trade had on creating the Dark Caravan. Heather skillfully, and wisely, lets the novel speak for itself. This is not a novel that is trying to preach it's message at you, but rather one that wants the reader to think after the final page has been turned. Knowledge is a powerful tool, and that is what this novel hopes to accomplish in igniting the desire to search out more knowledge about the real slave trade.

This novel sports a rather polarizing love triangle. I anticipate many will have strong feelings when it comes to it, and their preference of suitor.  This one one of those cases where I didn't mind the love triangle in the slightest. Malek, a guy who shouldn't even be a contender, and Raif whose intentions towards Nalia are not always clear both offer something different for Nalia. I, personally, think it's rather obvious where Nalia's heart is leading her. Part of what I liked was that the romance felt secondary, even though the novel is filled with some pretty seductively sexy moments. They seemed to be an extension of the larger storyline, rather than the storyline itself.

Malek, Nalia's master is an infuriatingly complex character. The relationship he has with Nalia is complicated. You want to hate him, but there are moments when you see who he could be. Heather balances the cruel reality that he is, in essence, keeping her captive, with the hint of potential for something to develop between them. It flirts right along the edge of Stockholm Syndrome, and I found her pull towards him believable. I was apprehensive how he could be part of the 'triangle' but the way Heather weaves it together works. Nalia never forgets who Malek is, and that he's cost her freedom, regardless of what else might be going on.

Raif is a bit of a mystery. We slowly get to know him, and our perception is molded by how Nalia perceives him. His motivation for doing things are not always apparent. As the leader of the revolution, Nalia struggles with trusting him, and knowing if his intentions are motivated by wanting her to help or simply wanting her. They have a spark, and an immediate pull that is undeniable. This dynamic creates some deliciously sexy moments between them that sizzle.

Exquisite Captive has it all - romance, action, stunning world building, a tightly spun plot, and the potential for much more to come. It also packs a pretty powerful message within it's pages. Those looking for the next series to obsess over will want to check this one out, and join me in the agonizing wait for the sequel.

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