I realized that I had already read the book half-way through.
Kateb is a man deeply wounded by the death of his beloved first wife. Not only that, but he met a lot of women who only wanted him for his money, so he's leery of them. So when Victoria's father gambles her he's convinced she has an ulterior motive ("She must be a gold-digger!"). So he really doesn't want to be attracted to her, and even worse to care for her. I like the way he respects her intellect. He listens to her ideas and opinions.
Victoria only wants to be safe. Her childhood was bad with her mother working hard to put the food on the table and her father coming along and taking all the money. She is a woman who will stand for what she believes, who will fight for those less fortunate. If only she could fight a little harder for her own happiness.
All in all I liked the book, but there were some stuff that bothered me. Kateb's reaction to Victoria's proclamation of love for one thing. The rather dramatic events at the end of the book a fight to death, a sacrifice, really? were a bit too much. And all that mopping of Victoria's got a little old.