The title is appropriate: powerful characters and an utterly captivating plot make this 50's-era business-world romance a true masterstroke by the author of A Glimpse of Stocking (1988) and Pandora's Box (1990). Born in rural Pennsylvania in simple circumstances, Frances Bollinger's startling beauty and genius for mathematics propel her into the world of international business at an unusually young age, though 1950's sexism stands in her way from the start. Determined to work for Magnus Industries, an all-powerful international conglomerate based in New York, 21-year-old Frances circumvents a disapproving personnel officer to snag a job redesigning the basic structure of the corporation's European division--using a recent invention, mainframe computers. Frances's originality and beauty soon attract the attention of handsome, virile Jack Magnus, son of evil industrialist Anton and heir to the Magnus throne. While stationed at the Paris office, Frances is seduced by Jack and eagerly agrees to marry him, only to find herself out on the street days later while Jack goes to the altar with a handpicked high- society debutante instead. Understanding that Anton is behind this humiliation, and that Jack was too weak to withstand his father's Machiavellian maneuverings, Frances responds by founding her own computer consulting firm. A bitter battle to defend her growing business and her personal welfare from Anton's casual attacks follows, while the extent of the paterfamilias' evil intent makes itself felt in the lives of his daughter, Julie, whose romantic life he destroys; his wife, Victoria, whom he reduces to an ineffectual ninny; and even in Jack, who is revealed to resemble his father all too closely. A delicious tale of injustice and revenge, further enhanced by its exciting, nascent-computer-industry backdrop.