Review: Berlin Exile by Anthony Adler


Author: Anthony Adler

Genre: Contemporary Urban Romance, BDSM

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My rating: 5 out of 5

Blurb: Jamie Stolts is a cocky and ambitious London lad on the career path. The pursuit of wealth, one-night stands and classic British music are the only things that matter. While closing the deal of his career, a reckless office fling proves to be his downfall. The repercussions are swift for Jamie, he is ousted from his job and exiled to Berlin, Germany. A complete disaster, his career ruined, his future in the dust.

Against his will, Jamie is forced to try and integrate into the strange city that is Berlin. Prostitutes, expats, non-stop clubbing, a new job and new relationships open his eyes to new possibilities. Along the way, a true East Berliner girl with a tragic past takes Jamie under her wing. With her guidance, Jamie is seduced into a sexual subculture that forces him to question everything about himself and his future. Pushed to his sexual limits, Jamie must make the decision of his lifetime.

Weaving the fascinating history of Berlin and inspired by real life events, Berlin Exile is a full-length novel that juxtaposes a modern day Berlin against its past, its inhabitants and its unofficial claim as the capital of kink.

Set to a Coldwave soundtrack and the extraordinary beat of Berlin, Berlin Exile is an introspective urban psycho-sexual ascent to self-discovery.

In Berlin, everyone has a chance to discover themselves…

Review: In today’s publishing world it is really difficult to weave kink and eroticism in your novel without being blamed that you’re trying to “cash in” on the trend set up by Fifty Shades of Grey. The market is over saturated, the competition is high and it is a true challenge to present something new and original to the audience. In that respect, Anthony Adler’s Berlin Exile is a shining example of an erotic novel with a substance, well-crafted plot and a unique setting that stands out. I have a hard time defining it as simply an erotic novel, though, as it blends sensuality, fetishes, a story of emotional growth, sexual awakening and a realistic, urban environment that doesn’t serve as just an artificial background. Some may argue if it can be contributed to BDSM as the author completely redefines the lifestyle’s terminology and invents his own version of it, even if at the core it remains safe, sane and consensual, based on mutual respect between the participants. One thing is sure, Berlin Exile was an amazing experience and I’m happy I had the chance to indulge in its multi-faceted world.

It is strange how sometimes what appears to be the biggest disaster that could happen to us is actually a blessing in disguise. That is what happens with Jamie Stolts, the protagonist of this coming-of-age tale. I say coming-of-age because even though the main character is supposed to be in his early thirties he has the mindset and behavior of a cocky, irresponsible teenage boy. He has to have his fun, regardless of the consequences. Yes, true, Jamie was also a hard-working, smart and talented young professional obsessed with his career plan and living only for the next big promotion. In spite of his easy, superficial attitude and reluctance in forming a permanent connection with anything and anyone, he wasn’t a bad man. Still, as I was reading the first few chapters and got to know him, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was still a boy who had a lot of growing up to do. Though, he was sure a lot of fun to read it was clear that our protagonist needed a major, drastic change.

Whether he realizes it or not losing his job and his transfer to Berlin, after the unfortunate fling with his boss’s daughter, were the best things that could happen to him. Moving to a city he had no interest in and to a position that appears like a step back in his career advance seemed like the cruelest thing that could happen to him. Especially when he was so close to reaping the benefits of the biggest deal he closed. As soon as his resistance is worn down Jamie starts seeing the best of his situation. The new unexpected encounters bring out a caring side of him he never suspected of, being driven mostly by his self-interest. The new job makes him realize that the passion and drive to succeed he had so far were all about the career advancement and not the job itself. Working with creative, intelligent team, full of ideas, having the chance for a startup together with his new friends brings up a sense of responsibility and makes him develop true leader qualities. It is also a pleasure to finally have a job he actually cares about.

As for a relationship, the short, passionate affair with a young, vibrant but frivolous girl at the beginning of his Berlin stay makes him face his own deeply rooted issues and fears. That leads him to the unusual agreement and firm yet gentle mentorship of Silke, my favorite character in the novel.

At first, we see her as the Ice Queen with a sexy librarian look, cold, professional attitude, retro dresses and an enigmatic numeral pendant. Her first contacts with Jamie and his childish behavior made me think this would be a classic tale of the firm, crushing domina who would force him to finally grow up with severe whipping and tough discipline. While there are days when I’d enjoy such a story it was a relief that wasn’t the case and we were in for a much deeper plot. There was more to that woman than met the eye. She was firm and had a no nonsense attitude about Jamie’s initial attempts at frustrating her. Once he decided to drop the playboy act and actually be honest, even vulnerable, Silke showed a completely different side to her, that of the warm, passionate woman, the girl with the tragic past who rebuilt herself and became a stronger, better version of herself. Her kind of control was subtle, with a lot of sensual domination and quiet orders Jamie found himself unable to resist.

He spent his life thinking that being in control made him strong. Ironically, once he agreed to be Silke’s protege and getting out of the safety of his emotional shell, that is when his real strength began to grow. Add the soundtrack of the mysterious Null Eins Null with their haunting lyrics and the ZB scene… wait. Who are Null Eins Null? And ZB? How is it different from BDSM? What do the mentor/protege relationship those two so different characters indulge in?

You’d have to find the answers when reading Berlin Exile. Remember, it is all about the journey of self-discovery and not the destination.

All the erotic action captured on the pages of the book is written in great detail and yet it never feels explicit, gratuitous or there just for the shock value. Jamie truly allows Silke to push him into realms of experience his old self would never even think of. Each stage of his development, emotional and sexual liberation have their purpose but it is up to him to realize and interpret its meaning.

If you are looking for a novel with a fast pace, contemporary feel, fascinating yet flawed characters, psychological kink and subtle eroticism Berlin Exile is your kind of novel. I hate giving spoilers so I’ll just say that the ending will leave you with many questions but the novel is not left with a cliffhanger. However, I look forward to the sequel and anything else Anthony Adler writes in the future.

Five dirty stars.


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