Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
Jenny: Horrific. That was the first word that came into my head when as I commenced reading Escape from Paradise. I didn’t know a whole lot about this one, but the synopsis completely intrigued me.
As the story began, as a mother, my first reaction was the need to admonish Angela for her deceit to her parents but as her grave situation unfolded I was quickly overcome with anguish and fear for her and complete hatred for the perpetrators of Angela’s predicament. This is surely every person’s worst nightmare. Not to mention every parents.
How many have deceived yet few would suffer and pay the price Angela did. It completely destroyed me as a mother to read this. Even though you’re completely aware that this is a work of fiction, the author has delivered it in such a way you experience all the horror that Angela endures. You’re right there with her. What happened to Angela sickened and saddened me and knowing in the back of your mind that this is the desperately sad reality for some in life, that this actually exists…well, it breaks you. That there are people who have so little regard for human life, is soul destroying.
“I would come to think of this day as the worst day of my life. The day my true brokenness began. The day I learned I’d do just about anything to avoid pain….”
Gitte, you and I certainly messaged like crazy through this one and there were so many OMG moments!!
I read this whole book in one sitting with a certain amount of trepidation and whole lot of nervous anticipation. It definitely had me on the edge of my seat at times.
The subject is a tough one and I say kudos to the author for writing this book the way she did. Just how do you romanticise something as gruesome and ugly as the Sex Slave Trade? Well, the author managed to pull it off and offered a good balance in the story. We must remember that this is a work of fiction and for me, the way the romanticism was introduced and woven into the story came as a welcome relief to the terrifying and sickening situations and treatment Angela was subjected to. I was lifted by the fact that someone somewhere cared about her enough to never give up on her. I was afforded hope, along with Angela, in a desperate situation.
Whilst Angela’s story was heartbreaking, as equally tragic was Colin’s story and how his past tragedy still remains in his present. His past sorrow and how it ultimately led him to his current career was shocking and devastating and I so admired him for what he achieved. This man was a hero in my eyes.
The author completely captured the conflict felt by Colin. Lines were crossed but necessity was the key. By all means Colin had to get the job done. His overpowering instinct is to save and protect and yet his feelings and actions caused him immense turmoil and you could feel this at every turn.
Gitte:A truly disturbing and powerful brilliantly written story indeed Jenny. This Author doesn’t mess about with bringing the drama right to the forefront from the start; the shock of it is truly distressing and stomach turning. I think the intensity we felt as readers is heightened as the subject of this storyline does happen in real life. Unfortunately the sex trade is rife and has countless victims.
“I know this is difficult, but it does not have to be bad. You must come to terms, pretty girl, with the knowledge that your life will never be the same. You will never return home. You belong to me now, and I will treat you well. But if I cannot trust you, I will have to dispose of you. Do you understand?”
In regards to romanticising, making people aware, giving hope, altering an outcome which more often than not plays out differently. Well, this is fiction and the notion of romantic hope and knight in armour coming to save the day, if only that was the case in real life for anyone subjected to this heinous crime!
The story is uncomfortable to read, it made me feel sick at times yet the message that someone cares enough, that there is always someone who will never give up on you, and in this case that someone would give their life in order to save you. Well, it made my heart soar and my nerves calmer through the dark and disturbing depravity of this story.
The characters in this story were tremendously well written. I got completely swept up in their story and just could not put it down. The fact that in one night your life can change and take a completely different path through no fault of your own really other than you grabbing and enjoying life. Heart breaking…Again because we know this happens.
Poor Angela, taken out of her chosen life, from a place she really wasn’t meant to be, only to be broken down and stripped of her own free-will. Inserted forcibly into one where she has no control or choice. This girl was brave, strong under adversity and so very lovable.
“I was experiencing genuine gratitude toward a man for not being violent when he violated me…how fucked up was that?”
As for Colin, be still my beating heart. What a hero indeed. He’s suffered tremendously and made it his mission to save victims of this abominable crime after it being so close to his own heart.
“That’s when Colin knew saving his brother from captivity was not enough. They’d ruined the boy’s life, maybe permanently. He would bring the fuckers down, and spend the rest of his days finding people like them, and making them pay. Somehow.”
Colin is an absolute diamond and the scenes with him and Angela were so powerful, tender, intense and heart breaking. I loved that we got to hear both their voices. It truly made a difference in this story and made me the reader feel completely part of both of them.
I have to say that I found ALL the characters in this story highly addictive and interesting, they all played a part in this twisted and heart breaking story. I would have LOVED to have learnt more about them, especially ‘The Master’~ Marco ….does that mean I too got Stockholm Syndrome just from reading?
What a journey this was, can I say I enjoyed it? Loved it even? How can you when the subject is so intense and depraved. Well as a reader reading fiction, from me that would be a yes and a yes. It was intense, powerful, horrific and disturbing yet it was full of love, hope and passion too. It was bloody good and I enjoyed almost every minute I spent reading it.
“Everything I thought I knew about myself and life, all of my views, shifted and changed in that room on that day…..”
Jenny: I agree Gitte. Hearing both Angela’s and Colin’s parallel stories and POV’s only added to the intensity and staggering feelings of utter despair and hopelessness I felt. I wanted to do something. I needed to do something but I was merely a reader witnessing something so horrific it caused my stomach to convulse with anticipation and fear for these two souls. I felt helpless.
“He was messing with my head, hurting me then caring for me. And I was falling for it, actually feeling thankful for his tenderness.”
We are afforded every emotion throughout this book. Your stomach will knot with fear. Your heart will ache with hopelessness, yet it will also soar with hope. Your gut will constrict as you experience the guilt and conflict Angela and Colin are subjected to and you will be in for an absolutely intense ride, so hold on because every single minute spent on that ride is worth it.
I have to say I am so relieved this book was a stand-alone because I don’t think my heart could have taken much more. This story completely fulfilled me and the way in which it culminated and concluded left me completely satisfied. An absolute must read, though I have to exercise reader caution as there are some sexual scenes which may upset some readers. If you are looking for a dark, gritty, passionate, disturbingly erotic, engrossing, evocative and highly emotional read then I recommend picking up Escape from Paradise.
Jenny: 4.5 stars
Gitte: 4.5 stars