Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time!
This week I chose Treasured Vows by Cathy Maxwell. This is an author that I don't follow religiously but I always wind up reading her books sooner or later. She creates lovely stories, I think. And Treasured Vows is not only my favorite by her, but also one of my favorite romance novels ever.
But once the bills start to pile up, one of the bank directors - Sir Cecil - calls her in and gives her some shocking news. The emeralds in the bank's vault are fakes left behind in place of the real gems, which Sir Cecil and her father pawned away to finance Abbott's latest expedition, the one from which he never returned.
Now, all Phadra wants is to find her missing father but Sir Cecil instead decides that Phadra must be married off to be kept out of trouble. Enter Grant Morgan. Grant works for Sir Cecil at the bank - more like he does all the work and Sir Cecil takes the credit - and he has been saving like crazy, trying to build a respectable fortune and hoping to eventually become one of the bank's directors - a post that comes with a knighthood -thinking his work is enough to get him them.
But Sir Cecil has other plans and unless Grant finds Phadra a suitable match, he'll block Grant's chances to move up in the bank. But if he succeeds, Sir Cecil will give him the hand of his daughter in marriage and help him get the post he wants.
Driven by ambition, Grant takes on the task, often clashing with the colorful, outgoing Phadra. Until one of her rash decisions results on their having to get married.
Second Glance: As I sad before, this is one of my favorite books ever. It's a story where polar opposites attract. Phadra is all outgoing, all her own person, and even if she's a bit reckless and headstrong at times, she means well and is smart. Also, she has a big heart and is always trying to help other people, even if she needs help herself.
Grant, on the other hand, is level headed. He's a banker and one of the most solid men I've ever read in a novel. He's remarkably handsome but ignores it the best he can. And he has an interesting past - his father was a renowned rake who nearly destroyed his family, and Grant was very much on the path to follow him, until his father died and he had to take her of his younger sisters.
One of the things I love the most about this story is that, while Grant learns to appreciate the unique, lovely spirit Phadra is, he's also in control. He's a guy who got your back and goes out of his way to make sure you're fine. That's how he loves Phadra. He's practical for the two of them, allowing her to be as whimsical as she wants.
Bottom Line: Treasured Vows is just a lovely, comforting story. I re-read it every couple of years and just let the warm fuzzies roll over me.