Using a recovery partition or system restores your computer to the ex-works condition and normally involves a format of the active partition, what you would normally consider your 'C' drive. This will, if allowed to complete, wipe everything off the partition so that all applications etc. need to be re-installed. However this process usually takes more than a couple of minutes so your data may still be there.
However you now have the problem of a non-booting computer. One way round this is to use a self-booting version of Linux, of which there are a considerable number. The one I use is Puppy which can be written to either a CD or a USB and will run from either. I keep a copy of the CD on my desk. The reason I use Puppy is that it was recommended to me on BC, it works, and therefore I have no need to change it ! You can get it with complete instructions on how to use it on CD or USB from here :-
Once you have it on CD or USB, just put the CD in the drive, or plug in the USB and boot. With a Vista machine you are probably better with the CD as the CD drive is normally included in the boot options in BIOS.
When you power up the computer it should boot from Puppy and you will have a Linux desktop which looks a bit different from a Windows one but should be understandable. It includes a file manager similar to Windows Explorer and on your desktop you will see icons for the various drives on the computer. Using the file manager, if there are salvageable files on your drive, you will be able to move them to external storage to rescue them.
While I hope this helps you recover at least some of your data - if not all - it does point up the importance of doing regular back-ups of your data. I know, horses and stable doors and all that. Best of luck.