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REVIEW: Doukakis’s Apprentice by Sarah Morgan

Dear Ms. Morgan:

You have your share of fans here at Dear Author. Sunita loves your medical romances. Sarah Wendell talked this book up in our podcast so I had to give it a try. Thank goodness this book lived up to its billing else I might not be allowed into the podcast again.

Sarah Morgan ApprenticePolly Prince is a marketing genius.  She never attended college but she found a home in a father’s marketing firm, Prince Advertising.  Unfortunately her father picked the wrong woman to marry for the upteenth time.  At twenty-four, Damon Doukakis sister’ Arianna is half again as old as  the senior Mr. Prince and Damon believes that this relationship is all wrong. He engineers a take over of the Prince Advertising and is determined to gain Polly’s support in cratering the relationship.  He intimates that he’ll divest the Prince company of all of its assets and throw out the rest like yesterday’s garbage.  There is only one asset at Prince and that is the genius behind the ad campaigns that the Prince firm has won, some even over Damon’s own media corporation.

Damon takes one look at Polly with her loud stockings, her crazy hair, and her perpetual tardiness and pegs her for just another brainless socialite.

In the midst of discovering that the past still had the power to destabilise him, Damon found his attention snagged by the wisp of pale blonde hair that had floated down from the haphazard, kooky hairstyle she wore. It seemed that even her hair was rebellious.

This girl, he mused, knew nothing about obligation and responsibility.

She selfishly pursued her own agenda with no thought to the casualties. Ten years before it had been his sister who had suffered.

Polly and his sister Arianna had been in boarding school together and it ended badly leading Damon to believe that Polly was a promiscuous and empty headed chit.  Polly knows that Damon has disapproved of her and while she still likes Arianna, she isn’t happy about her father and Arianna marrying either.  Polly’s dad has always abdicated responsibility toward Polly, leaving her to fend for herself.  She found a family at the Prince firm, and a calling.  Damon’s taking it over and plan to break it up is making her sad and angry.  She’s determined to fight for the employees in her firm and that means closing the deal with a major French firm for their new line of hosiery.

Damon and Polly are, if I can borrow a British idiom, as different as chalk and cheese. (I know this term as Helen Brooks uses it quite often in her HPs.)  Polly believes in freedom of expression, loose hours, and personal connections.  It’s how she has managed to stay positive despite being the victim of benign neglect by her notorious playboy father.   Damon lives a rigidly controlled life. It’s how he’s managed to succeed when his parents died and left him without any money and a very young sister to raise.

Polly allows her employees to bring in their kids or work half days if necessary.  Some of the older employees aren’t as productive and the younger ones pick up the slack. They have an office fish, an office plant, and photos of their loved ones at every desk.  Damon runs a “hot desk” system:

‘We operate a hot desk system.’

Her mind preoccupied, Polly suddenly had an image of everyone burning themselves when they sat down to work. ‘Hot desk?’

‘Employees don’t have their own fixed office space. They come in and sit at whichever work station is free. Office space is our most expensive asset and most offices only use fifty percent of their capacity at any one time. We lease the lower ten floors of this building. It’s a highly profitable way of maximising the space.’

While Damon can be incredibly cruel at times, Polly is no shrinking violet.  If she can withstand the buffeting in the book, then I can too as the reader.

‘You’re obviously not enjoying having us as part of your business,’ she said sweetly. ‘Next time perhaps you should check out your prey before you swallow it. We’re obviously giving you indigestion.’


‘Gosh, no. Not masculinity.’ Her fingers flew over the keys swiftly. ‘Just dominant controlling tendencies that prevent you from ever thinking another person with a different approach could be saying something worth hearing.’

Damon’s jaw ached from clenching his teeth. ‘I am always very receptive to fresh ideas.’

‘Providing they’re coming from someone dressed in a dark suit. Be honest—you took one look at me and dismissed me on the basis of my dress and my pink tights.’

‘That is not true.’

‘It is true. And once we’re in the restaurant the first thing you’ll discuss is the success of each other’s businesses, your various achievements and how many financial goals you’ve scored. He’ll acknowledge you as King of the Jungle, you’ll order an eye-wateringly expensive bottle of wine to prove your impeccable taste and his importance as a client, and once we’ve got all that alpha male posturing out of the way I can have my turn.’

If Polly is a bit too positive and Damon a bit too dour,  it serves only to highlight how much the two need each other.  Polly needs someone who will care for her, fight for her above all else.  While she is angered at the dismissive attitude of Damon’s and his ham fisted way of obtaining revenge, she also appreciates the love for Arianna that motivates him.  Her father has never put Polly first.  Damon needs someone to place a little color in his sterile life and he needs someone to be able to accept his devotion.  Together, these two mesh perfectly.  B

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Tabitha
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 12:27:13

    I read a review of this book somewhere last week and have my eye on it…but I have to say, I dislike the different release dates between the print and ebook. I mainly buy for the kindle now and having to wait for the book…well patience isn’t my thing! Lol

  2. Junne
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 12:43:03

    I read the book, as I love Sarah Morgan’s HPs, and I liked it but the relationship between h’s father and H’s sister kind of made me uncomfortable. I felt like Arianna got sacrificed to allow Polly and Damon to get together and have their HEA.

    When the girls were both at school, the girls were equal, and now one is married to a rich, hot and young playboy and the other to a man old enough to be her father. It’s as if Ms. Morgan wanted to emphasize the epic win of Polly by comparing it to the epic fail of Arianna. Of course, I’m not saying at all this has been done on purpose, just that I’m getting that message by reading the book.
    Am I delusional or did anyone else get that feeling too?

  3. Jane
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 12:56:49

    @Junne I didn’t see it as an epic fall of Arianna but I was surprised at the way in which that relationship turned out. I thought it was interesting because it wasn’t very romance-like and I actually appreciated that the relationship was allowed to stand instead of Arianna “coming to her senses.”

  4. Jane
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 13:06:34

    @Tabitha I know. It’s a tough balance between wanting to post the review while the print book is on the shelf and while the digital book is still awaiting release. I wish that this could be better coordinated.

  5. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 13:26:27

    No, I didn’t either. Arianna wasn’t sacrificing herself, she was doing what she wanted to do, as she always had done.
    I loved the French part of the book, and the tights thing.

  6. Brie
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 14:30:08

    Oh I loved this book! It was like old-school romance done right, with a very alpha hero who wasn’t an a-hole and a quirky, fun, independent heroine.

    The relationship between Arianna and Polly’s father was a bit icky though, I felt like Arianna really wanted a father instead of a lover, and the dad was so irresponsible that he needed a keeper/mother instead of a wife.

  7. Jane
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 14:40:27

    @Brie I never felt like I was supposed to approve of the relationship between Arianna and Polly’s father. Like it was intentionally icky.

  8. Ros
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 14:40:52

    In the UK, the ebook comes out first! Well, it comes out at the same time as the subscription copies. The print books are in shops a few weeks later and then it’s on Kindle a week or two after that.

    I loved this one too – I have a pink fluffy pen just like Polly’s.

  9. Sunita
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 14:41:19

    I’ve been saving this book for a must-have-the-perfect-book-right-now crisis moment. You people are NOT helping.

  10. Ridley
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 15:41:53

  11. Jane
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 15:42:38

    @Ridley I think Sarah Wendell said that of all the titles that needed changing frm UK to US, this was one and it didn’t get changed.

  12. Sunita
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 15:48:24

    @Jane: @Ridley: Yep and Yep. I tweeted a link to this post and managed to misspell the name, in just the way you would expect me to misspell it.

  13. Sri
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 16:23:27

    I loved this book too, and while I didn’t like that Arianna married Polly’s father (not because of its place in its story but in head shaking way at people I don’t understand) I felt it had nothing to do with Polly. Arianna made her choice herself, whether right or wrong.

  14. Mandi
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 06:40:17

    I really liked this one…I thought Polly’s character was so well done..quirky yet could stand up to such a cute way.

  15. Jane
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 10:49:41

    @Junne I thought more about what you said. I hear you saying that you felt Arianna was given such a disappointing romance in order to emphasize the HEA for the main couple. I don’t think that is a delusional claim. But as I thought about this more, I wondered if keeping Arianna and Polly’s dad together wasn’t a greater impediment to the happiness of Polly and Damon. In other words, accepting the romance for Damon was part of his character arc. Wouldn’t have been a lot easier for Damon to be with Polly if his sister was no longer in the dad’s “clutches”? Or maybe that goes to prove your point that Arianna’s “romance” was somehow emphasizing Damon and Pollys.

  16. Junne
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 13:03:43

    @Jane’s last comment:

    Yes, I think that keeping something imperfect in the HEA kept me from enjoying fully the book.

    However,I thought about it some more too, and I realized I liked a lot Arianna as a character, and I would have loved the book to be about her. She has that vibrancy that, to me, Polly has not.

    Polly is a bit more bland, typical HP virgin-but-feisty-would-be whore-who-once did-some-scandalous-shit-in-her-past(only she didn’t and thank god for that, because otherwise she wouldn’t be allowed to worship the H’s magical dingdong). By the by, I’d like to assure that I LOVE this trope, and that’s why I read HPs. But sometimes I like a little change.

  17. Jane
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 13:06:05

    @Junne I hear you. In the December India Grey book it’s implied that the heroine has had many lovers. It’s no big deal but it is implied. Maybe it will tickle your HEA fancy better. Although, it is a 2 book story so the ultimate HEA doesn’t come until January.

  18. Sarah_Florida
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 22:37:59

    @Jane: I wish Mills & Boon / Harlequin would stop doing the 2 story thing. I’m not a fan. I put up with it when it’s a fav author but would rather have the whole story in one book. If the story is too long to fit in one book maybe they should have exclusive longer books just for these.

    Loved this Sarah Morgan books though!! I understand she has another in December?

  19. Jane
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 09:36:03

    @Sarah_Florida It seems like it is something they are doing more of in the last year or so. I don’t remember it being so prevalent.

  20. Marilyn Shoemaker
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 18:21:15

    Jane great review! I just finished this incredible book a few hours ago. I adored Polly Prince. Her loyalty and love for her co-works and her strength amazed me.

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