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Treasured Vows    by Cathy Maxwell Amazon.com order for
Treasured Vows
by Cathy Maxwell
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Avon, 2004 (2004)
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* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

Phadra Abbot, an outspoken and independent young woman, leaves behind the school that she's long outgrown and comes to London with every intention of launching a search for her missing explorer father. Exotic, eccentric, emancipated as well as extravagant, Phadra rapidly becomes the bane of her reluctant guardian, the Bank of England. To resolve her situation of penury and debt, upcoming banker Grant Morgan is charged with the task of marrying her off to a suitably rich party.

In trying to outlive his father's notoriety, Grant is desperate to secure a title and willing to do anything, even try to marry off someone as socially disastrous as Phadra. They clash from the very first instant they meet, so opposite are their views she so ultra-progressive and bohemian and he so stuffily conservative. However constant interaction results in a better understanding, and an unarticulated attraction springs up between them. Despite their different outlooks and goals in life, fate brings them together.

Cathy Maxwell excels at stories that are a fine blend of history, unforgettable romance and complex, humane characters who remain long in the reader's memory. Although vastly different in their attitudes and views, both protagonists' lives have been scarred and shaped by larger-than-life fathers. Phadra actively seeks answers no matter how painful, while Grant prefers to cloak his feelings in a title and respectability. One thing they have in common is the passion that's slowly developing between them.

Aside from the excellent characterizations, it's refreshing to read a book in which the author delivers a subtle but powerful build-up of sexual tension rather than providing passionate encounters on every other page. This makes the sizzling culmination all the more effective. Nice touches of humor and historical ambience add sparkle to an already luminous tale.

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