Monday, May 29, 2023

Escape from Paradise by Gwendolyn Field


People kept recommending this book to me and it kept showing up on lists alongside my own books which made me curious. ESCAPE FROM PARADISE is one of those captivity eroticas written in the vein of CAPTIVE IN THE DARK and COMFORT FOOD. The heroine, Angela, is sneaking on a trip to Cancun with her besties after lying to her overprotective parents. But then she hooks up with a sleazebag who intends to hit it and quit it, non-con style, which leaves it up to his even creepier and sleazebaggier dad to clean up his mess.

I have mixed thoughts about this book. There were some things it did well. The whole psychology of sex trafficking, I felt, were handled with an attempt at gravity by the author (which you don't always see in books like these). I liked the time she spent on the psychology of the book and how there was a lot of metatext about rape fantasies and consent, which are still highly relevant to the dark romance discourse to this day. I also thought it was interesting how the hero was sort of an undercover agent who was fucking the heroine as a slave despite feeling kind of remorseful about it. That was an interesting dynamic I don't think I've seen except in KILLING SARAI, maybe.

I did get a little bored with this book after a while though. It alternates between edgy and cringe at times. Like there's a scene where the heroine is given an enema and made to shit in a bucket as punishment, and another where she's forced to watch a LITERAL threesome where two girls dressed up as a granny and Red Riding Hood are "raped" by a man in a wolf costume lmao. But then when Colin and Angela finally meet, it's like the author really needed there to be an instant connection between them, and all the weird and shocking stuff just kind of went out the window.

Also, not to be an asshole but the Spanish is SO BAD. I speak it pretty well and even though I'm not fully fluent, I noticed tons of errors. Angela was described with masculine adjectives, words were misspelled (dias was spelled with a Z, as in "Diaz"), the wrong tense forms were used (venga conmigo instead of "ven conmigo," which is literally a Christina Aguilera song are you not cultured? jk). She also wrote out the Spanish accent for her characters which felt a little cringe and stereotypical. Some of the Spanish was really good and I was impressed by some of what she got right, but it felt like she was using a language translator, which can always be kind of finicky-- especially since, fun fact, a lot of the time the language translator defaults to masculine forms since that's used as the default.

Overall, I thought this was ok. I think the author made an attempt to give her heroine some modicum of agency in a genre that often feels exploitative and she wrote a book that was compelling enough that I wanted to read it to the end. It looks like she's become pretty inactive now and the sequel about Josef never came to light. That's kind of sad but I get it. Sometimes real life gets in the way of the side hustle. Hope she's doing all right and living her best life.

If you enjoy captivity romances, you'll enjoy this.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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