Exquisite Captive

Exquisite Captive - Heather Demetrios

Nalia was a jinni of the ruling class of Arjinna until a coup wiped out every other member, and she was sold into slavery on Earth to Malek, a clever and cruel man. She desperately wishes for her freedom so that she can return to Arjinna to rescue her younger brother, but has no hope of escape. At least until Raif, the leader of Arjinna's rebels, shows up. He needs her help and is willing to grant Nalia her freedom in exchange for it. Nalia just has to get her bottle back from Malek for Raif's plan to work. But Malek keeps the bottle with him at all times, so getting it back will be tricky.


A big reason why I enjoyed this book was the twisted relationship between Nalia and Malek. When the book starts out, we see clearly that she hates him, and it's no wonder since she's his slave and he can be incredibly cruel and harsh when punishing her. But then he starts acting kinder, and it confuses Nalia. Even while she hates him for denying her her freedom, part of Nalia can't help but start to like these moments of kindness and humanity. Basically, we have a nice case of Stockholm syndrome going on, and it was interesting to watch Nalia struggle with her conflicting feelings over him.


The world-building was impressive, and it was incredibly clear that a lot of thought went into creating the culture of Arjinna. My one complaint about it all was that there was so much information being introduced that at times it really slowed down the story. It got better as the story went on, and I imagine things will be even better in the second book since so much of the setting was set up here.


The relationship between Nalia and Raif was also fun. Nalia is a member of the jinni group that oppressed Raif and everyone he cared about. Raif is a member of the rebels who killed almost every single jinni that Nalia knew. So there's a bit of tension there. Despite that, both of them has something the other one desperately wants, so they are forced to work together. And working together forces them to see one another not as a member of the group they hate, but as an actual individual who doesn't match up exactly with their expectations.


The chapters switched off between three perspectives—Nalia, Raif, and a ghoul hunting Nalia down. I wasn't too big of a fan of the ghoul's perspectives. They kept following the same set-up, which got old.

Ghoul finds a jinni he thinks might be Nalia. He tricks her into letting him close, but she's not Nalia. He eats her and continues searching.

(show spoiler)


While I really enjoyed it, this definitely isn't a book for everyone. The plot is slow with a good chunk of time spent on flashbacks and background information, and there is a large focus on an abusive relationship that might make some uncomfortable.