Book Review A Soul to Shine by Jennifer Ott

ASoultoShineAmazonTitle: A Soul to Shine
Author: Jennifer Ott
Genre: Literary Fiction
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

From the outside, starlet Olivia Hammond has it all—fame, fortune and a Hollywood hunk boyfriend. No one suspects her rising self-doubts and anxieties. In order to escape the realities of her chaotic world, she dives into an Oscar quality role of a young woman trapped in the horrors of postwar Berlin. It is here that Olivia feels most comfortable.

Her real and fictional lives collide when the director casts Dimitri Malakhov, a Russian porn star, as her costar. She immediately fears her image and reputation will be tainted. Personally and professionally, she must face what frightens her most—exposing herself, her fears, her imperfections and her desires to the world.

The experience of filming the movie with Dimitri and being on location in Berlin destroys her prejudices and judgments. It shatters all her illusions and perceptions. When liberated from her own confines, her life and love truly shine.

Manchmal das Herz muss zerstört werden, um zu heilen.

Sometimes the heart needs to be broken in order to heal.

In A Soul to Shine, Olivia Hammond seemingly has it all. Her latest movie, another blockbuster, was just released. Her boyfriend, Trent, is head over heels for her, wants to marry her and even start a family. But despite looking happy on the outside, inside she’s a wreck. She doubts herself, is anxious over what the critics think, and struggles with thoughts of the future, and what she wants her life to turn out like. She tries to escape these troubling thoughts by diving into the role of a young woman trapped in the horrors of postwar Berlin, a role she plays in a new, Oscar-worthy movie she’s shooting.

Dimitri Malakhov is a Russian porn star. Despite his profession, he’s actually quite loyal to his girlfriend – only sleeping with others when the job demands it. He’s been struggling to start a career in the United States, so when he gets a call by a director to play in an actual movie, not just a porn movie, he’s a little shocked. But he accepts the job anyway, even if it means he has to help his co-star, famous Olivia Hammond, ‘open up a little’, as the director calls it.

Olivia and Dimitri start shooting the film on location in Berlin, reliving the lives of the characters they play during postwar Berlin. Meanwhile, Olivia starts to open up and expose the parts of herself she’d wanted to keep hidden. The closer Olivia and Dimitri get, the more her view on the world, on herself, on what she wants in life, changes. Dimitri too starts struggling, wondering if he still loves his girlfriend, Daniella, wondering if he made the right choices, and if he truly is the person he wanted to be. As they both struggle to find their true selves, they come to quite a few startling realizations.

Whereas the plot is all right and interesting enough, it’s the characters that truly make this book shine, which I guess was the author’s intention all along. Dimitri and Olivia have little in common at first glance, until they realize they’re actually going through a similar inner turmoil, and they help each other find the strength to turn their lives around. It was easy to connect with both characters, particularly Olivia, and to sympathize with their struggles. The setting of Berlin worked well too, and gave the book an extra dimension.

This was an engaging read with tons of character development. By the end of the book, I cared about the characters so much I was reluctant to let them go.

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