Book Review

Doukakis’s Apprentice by Sarah Morgan

B+

Title: Doukakis's Apprentice
Author: Sarah Morgan
Publication Info: Harlequin September 2011
ISBN: 9780373130214
Genre: Contemporary Romance

It's not a secret that I really like Sarah Morgan's books, and her latest is no exception to the happy sigh reading experience.

Polly Prince works at the ad agency her father owns, but in reality, she runs the place because he tends to disappear for long periods of time, usually with a new girlfriend who is Polly's age. This time, dear old dad has run off with Damon Doukakis's sister, who used to be Polly's best friend at school, and both of them are unreachable. Damon is so pissed off, he does what any good Harlequin Presents hero does: he buys out the Prince company, and aims to flush Mr. Prince out of his love nest by decimating the company.

Damon didn't count on facing down Polly, and their interactions are some of the best scenes in the book. Polly begins the novel by taking on the board of directors, who have done little to nothing that's profitable, while taking home huge paychecks. Polly's biggest fear is that Damon's takeover will result in massive layoffs (I believe the UK term is “redundancies”) and she figures she has nothing to lose by challenging the board of directors personally and in front of Damon, especially since they regularly take the credit for her work.

Fortunately for Polly, Damon is clued in that the board is useless but Polly might not be, and keeps her on to continue negotiations for a new client. Unfortunately for Polly, who is very aware of Damon, this means that Damon will join her as she meets with that client in Paris. Polly is deeply misunderstood by pretty much everyone except those characters who know her best, but her true character is revealed bit by bit so that the reader learns about her along with Damon. First and foremost, Polly allows herself to be misunderstood, and while that may seem jarring at first, she has reasons that I felt justified her decisions. But while the reader hasn't prejudged her too much, Damon has drastically, and he has to rethink most of his conclusions about her. That part is delicious. My favorite part is something of a hallmark with Morgan's writing: there's always something small that's so realistic, so possible, it adds to my connection with the characters as they, too, become more realistic. In this case, it was the account Polly is working on. To contrast with the incredibly glitzy locations of the story (London high-rises! Paris! The Eiffel Tower!), Polly is working on something that most women know about: hosiery. Tights and stockings. Fun ones! With glitter and sheen and other things I wanted to buy for myself! The high-gloss locations were contrasted with a familiar lower-cost fashion item that was familiar to me (while Paris, because I've never been there, is not). The high-end lifestyle that Damon leads contrasts also with the shoestring budget Polly is used to working with, and the glitz and glamor of Damon's environment are nothing when faced with Polly's innate creativity. Moreover, Polly's specialty seems to be blending innovative marketing plans with older methods and newer technologies, like social media, YouTube, and online communities. Morgan can establish so much of each character with just a handful of words, and the scenes were Polly briefly describes her ideas for the hosiery marketing plan – and the scene where her outfit for the dinner is revealed to both the chairman of the company and Damon, who at that point was still grossly underestimating her – revealed so much about her, about Damon, and about their differences and similarities with only a few pages. I loved that Polly's creativity and uniqueness were among the most valuable parts of her character, both in Damon's estimation of her personally, and in his understanding of her role professionally. I also liked that they confronted the inappropriateness of their relationship, especially because Damon was so pissed off about his sister and Polly's dad. So why not an A? The scope of misunderstanding surrounding Polly leaves room for her to be just a little to perfect, and I wish that Polly and her father, and their somewhat fractious relationship, had more exploration. Her father is one of the major sources of conflict but he shows up at the end—and given the importance of his character while he was offscreen, I wanted to see more denouement where he was concerned onscreen as well. Plus, the conflict between Polly and Damon rests on both their family crises and their business relationship, and only the latter is fully resolved, really. But even with those points, and the rather unfortunate title – Doukakis? Dukakis?! Eep! I promise, Damon does NOT drive a tank! – I loved this book. Sarah Morgan continues to hang out on my autobuy list, and each book of hers that I discover is a treat.


This book is available from Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | eHarlequin.com

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    Sounds good. I’ll have to pick it up, I haven’t read this author before.

  2. 2
    Jeannie says:

    It’s been so very long since I’ve read a Harlequin Presents. I wonder if you, Sarah, or perhaps someone else that reads them, would comment on the heat level of these books, please and thank you.

    I like mah readin’ material spicy.

  3. 3
    Hannah says:

    @Jeannie, it really depends on the author for Presents titles. The last Sarah Morgan I read, A Night of Scandal, I’d give a rating of PG-13. It wasn’t as steamy as some other Presents titles I’ve read.

    I’m looking forward to Oct 1st when Doukakis’s Apprentice will, as if by magic, show up on my Kindle.

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    I think they’re PG-13 to a low-end R rating. There’s a LOT of emotional tension, though, so the intimate scenes are pretty steamy.

  5. 5
    Susan D says:

    Yeah, Damon Doukakis is a bit of a clunker of a name for a hero….

  6. 6
    Jeannie says:

    Thanks, ladies!

    So this isn’t being released until Oct. 1? Dangit, I guess I’ll have to try and remember to put this on my Kindle wish list. This is my only complaint about review sites is that they of course get ARC of books and then I read the review and want the book but it’s not available yet. I tend to be an impulse buyer, when I read a good review I want that book right then. If I don’t write them down or have my Kindle handy to put it on my wish list, I forget. And sometimes Amazon doesn’t have the book even on the “shelves” until the release date or the day after, depending on who the publisher is. I need my own tickler system…

  7. 7
    MelB says:

    Damon Doukakis and Polly Prince, seriously? I think she must be taking character naming from the Kardashians. It sounds like an interesting read, though, so I will have to check it out. Great review, Sarah.

  8. 8
    Alone in the North says:

    I’m old.  My first thoughts were:

    He’s related to Olympia Dukakis?

    and her name is POLLY and she’s in hosiery???  There used to be a UK brand that had Polly in it’s name.

  9. 9
    Alex says:

    *whizzes over to Amazon to buy it*

    I usually prefer something a bit longer than the usual Mills & Boon title but I’m very partial to Sarah Morgan’s books.  Didn’t realise this had been out for long in the UK though!

    Hehe, I wondered about the Pretty Polly connection too.  The fashion blogger side of me is very excited to read this.  Seems like clothing is the one thing about most female characters that isn’t described well – I’m so sick of them all wearing slacks or dresses that sound straight out of the 80s.  It’d be nice to read something that’s actually up to date for once!

  10. 10
    Sharon says:

    @Alone in the North

    You mean these?

    Ya, the Doukakis thing, really, oy…just such a turn-off right off the bat. Also not crazy about alliterative names—I’ve inadvertantly created a potential alliterative name in my latest WIP, although it wouldn’t happen ‘til after they’re technically married. Still, it’s bugging me.

    Captcha: yet59. Nope, not 59 yet. Gettin’ there, though…

    I shall have to try a Harlequin Presents. Honestly, I’m a single title gal, but this post and one over at Dear Author have whet my appetite.

  11. 11
    Lynn S. says:

    @Jeannie If you’re looking for HPs on the spicy side, I’d recommend Natalie Anderson.  Her books have a Blaze level of heat but with a Presents sensibility and her heroines are always engaging.  I haven’t read anything by her that I didn’t enjoy, but her best book is probably The End of Faking It.

  12. 12
    John says:

    I love Sarah Morgan.  I cannot wait to read this.  <3

    Her books just have that spice.  Her dialogue is always witty and unique.  Her characters have the best tension and heat between them.  They always have cool occupations/events going on.  I never feel like she’s just rehashing the same thing over and over again, and with each book I see just how strong a writer she is.  Definitely worthy of the Auto-Buy list.

  13. 13
    malk says:

    You have to go to Paris at least once in your life, especially as a romance expert!

  14. 14
    Lily says:

    Doukakis’s is so hard to say.  Makes my brain start down the whole “one Doukakis, many Doukaki” track.

  15. 15
    Sandra D says:

    I’m a total sucker for greek tycoon/billionaire sheik/pregnant mistress etc type books. However I do like my ‘mistress’ to have major brains, and it sounds like Polly does, so this goes on the TBB list.

  16. 16
    Marilyn says:

    Great review Sarah.  I loved this book, especially Polly…….she was a great heroine.

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