February 14, 2013

Review: Sold to the Enemy by Sarah Morgan


Sold to the Enemy by Sarah Morgan
ETA: I forgot to mention that I received a review copy from the author.

You guys know how much I like Sarah Morgan (and if not, now you do), so I’ll skip that part and go directly to the review.

The plot is quite simple: Selene is a sheltered young woman with an abusive powerful father. She has dreams of escaping, but she can’t do it because she has no money, her father is super evil and her mother is too afraid. So she comes up with this plan that takes her directly to Stefan Ziakas.

And who is this Stefan? I’m glad you ask! He’s a player with a secret pain that killed his soul and turned him into a ruthless man.  He’s also Selene’s father’s nemesis. Years ago he was nice to her, because he’s not as dead inside as he would like us to believe. So she has nothing but fond memories of him. She tells him her plan, which involves a very simple business idea as well as the necessary loan. After a lot of convincing, Stefan agrees because he likes her and helping her would mean getting some revenge on her dad.

Selene has always admired Stefan, mostly because of that one memory. She’s not familiar with kindness and that encounter meant a lot to her. He is somewhat amused by her and a lot attracted, but he also respects her ideas and goals. The problem is that when she discovers that one of the reasons he helped her was to get revenge, she’s unable to forgive him. So the romance gets complicated.

This is one of those “Greek Tycoon and the Shy Virgin” Presents, with a bit of a revenge plot thrown in for good measure. Except that it’s not. The Shy Virgin is the one who seduces the Greek Tycoon, and the revenge plot dies halfway through the second chapter when the hero says that he “won’t blame the daughter for the sins of the father”.

I bet you didn't see that one coming!

Of course this is a Harlequin Presents, so it’s a bit campy and has all the right elements like the insta-lust, the domineering hero, the Mary Sue-ish heroine and the big misunderstanding, but it’s toned down enough to let us see the people behind the clichés. The basic premise and characters are typical enough that we can clearly identify the book as part of the line, but it twists the tropes just enough for the reading experience to be surprising and refreshing. 

The problem is that while the story doesn't rely on the internal conflict produced by the emotionally-stunted hero, the external conflict caused by the apparent betrayal felt forced and slightly out of character. Yes she’s naïve, but the text makes it look as if she has real insight into the hero’s character beyond what her own memories and subsequent fantasies tell her, so the way she reacts, en especially how long she remains so angry, felt out of character. Perhaps the problem here isn't so much the characterization as it is the transitions. The shifts from reluctant partners, to lovers, to big misunderstanding were abrupt and felt a bit inconsistent, yet even these transitions don’t follow the usual pattern, so the big misunderstanding doesn't happen when you would expect it. Flaws and all, I was very pleased.

This is one of those books I would recommend to those who want to read a Harlequin Presents but can’t figure out where to start. It has all the elements that make the line so entertaining, but written in a way that strips them of the most obnoxious qualities. And of course, if you like Contemporary Romance and want to read about an adorable, confident heroine and the alpha hero who loves and respects her, then I highly recommend this one.

Review by Brie
Grade: 4
Sensuality: McSexy
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Stefan Ziakas might be her father's most hated business rival, but he's the only man who has ever made Selene Antaxos feel beautiful. So, needing to make a new life for herself, Selene apprehensively turns to Stefan for help.Except the dark-hearted tycoon is nothing like the white knight she remembers. Seduced, bedded and betrayed in a matter of days, Selene realizes it's not always better the devil you know. She's sold her soul—and her heart—to the enemy!

Harlequin Presents. January 22, 2013.

7 comments:

  1. I used to read Presents like candy in my late teens and early 20s. I'd go to the newsagents every month and look at every single new title, order them by how much I wanted them, and then choose as many as my extra money that month would allow. I always ended up reading mostly from the Bianca titles (the Spanish name of the Presents line). To my shame, I particularly liked the secret babies!

    Anyway, I went off them once I got into single titles, but will still pick up the odd one, if the author's highly recommended. Sarah Morgan seems to be one to try. Should I start with this one, or are there any older ones you like better?

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    1. Either this one or Doukakis's Apprentice (here's DA's review: http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/overall-b-reviews/b-reviews/review-doukakiss-apprentice-by-sarah-morgan/) and for the more old-school feel, but equally fun, try Once a Ferrara Wife (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12769561-once-a-ferrara-wife) I don't know what's going on with the clicky links today!

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    2. And A Night of Scandal! That's another favorite. What you did with the Presents line I did with Jude Deveraux's books, and others *cough* VC Andrews *cough*. Good times!

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  2. Excellent, they're all cheap on kindle, I think I'll just go eeny, meeny, miny, moe! Thanks!

    I did that with Jude Deveraux as well, once I discovered single titles. And Johanna Lindsey. And (God help me) Catherine Coulter.

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  3. Glad you enjoyed it, Brie. I've been seeing reviews for this one. I don't know... Greek tycoons are not my favorites....

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    Replies
    1. The Greek tycoon comes with the line, but this one wasn't an obnoxiously rich Greek tycoon; more like a successful Greek businessman.

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  4. I really liked this one too, even though yes - I had my quibbles. Morgan takes some of the most popular elements of the Presents line (the tycoon, the virgin, the revenge theme....) and makes them less obnoxious. In the hands of another writer this could have been a VERY different book!

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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.