Book Review

“This Fierce Splendor” by Iris Johansen

STORY: Ever since she was a little girl, Elspeth MacGregor has dreamed of completing her father’s quest to find the legendary lost city of Kantalan. After poring over textbooks, atlases, and tribal legends, Elspeth knows everything there is to know about the ancient metropolis—except how to reach it. Now she’s made the journey to Hell’s Bluff, Arizona, in search of the man who may be her last hope of reaching Kantalan, despite his dangerous reputation . . . or maybe because of it.

The last thing Dominic Delaney needs is to lead some stubborn scholar around on a wild goose chase. A wanted man, Dominic has never had time for fairy tales. But there’s something about Elspeth’s fiery determination that has him willing to suspend disbelief . . . and something about Dominic that has Elspeth falling for the wrong man. Now, to reach the magnificent riches of Kantalan, the mismatched pair must first conquer the dark mysteries of desire.

REVIEW: How in the world did I ever miss this book by Iris Johansen?! And not just this story, but all the Delaney stories. I always loved Ms. Johansen’s writing but it has been quite awhile since I’ve read any of her books, and now that I’ve been reintroduced to her, I’ll make sure to hunt down her back list.

This book has been originally printed by Bantam Books in 1988 and it is being offered to us by Loveswept from August 8 (sold by Random House Digital, Inc.) and I couldn’t have been gladder about it. I am hoping they’ll offer us the series in Kindle format.

Our heroine of this story is Elspeth MacGregor, bookish girl who grew up with her father, the scholar. For the longest time she’s helped her father with his discoveries, notably the discovery of the lost city of Kantalan. After her father’s passing she decides to leave her home in Scotland and embark on an adventure an ocean away and a quest to prove the existence of this long forgotten city. In order for her to succeed in this attempt she needs and is in a search of one man who can guide her to it and his name is Dominic Delaney.

Dominic Delaney knows he is a hunted man. Years ago, he killed a young man in a fair gunfight, but family of that man, he knows, will never let him be. And because of that, Dom, even after the pardon he receives from the Law, he knows that he must stay away from everything and everyone that is dear to him. Hell’s Bluff, Arizona, is his home now, and life spent drinking, whoring and playing cards is all he knows of late.

The story of how this hard, cynical and at times brutish man falls in love with a plain, yet very passionate woman is one not to be missed. The author spares us nothing by taking us on an adventure of epic proportions. She takes her time in drawing us a picture of a Wild West that is brutal, unforgiving and uncivilized, yet we can’t help but see the humanity of all those people we come in contact with. We are aware of everyone around our hero and heroine, and as we come to know them, we can’t help but accept them, flaws and all. Ms. Johansen introduces a slew of second characters that will live with us for a long time. I’ll never be able to forget Count Andre Marzanoff, Patrick and Silver Dove, Rising Star and Josh, Brianne and William, and especially Malvina and Shamus Delaney, the matriarch and patriarch of this very intriguing family. The author had created a world of complex main and secondary characters with depth, so that when we met them they seemed real and three-dimensional. Ms. Johansen knows her craft and she knows her audience as well, and she went all out in creating a world in which all are welcome to partake. Regardless of what your genre is, you’ll enjoy it. There’s a treasure hunt, romance and real friendship and as always with this author, plenty of historical accuracy. Now, if only I could find a happily ever after of Dominic’s nephew Patrick, I’d be a happy camper!

If you like epic saga’s, Western or just plain old romance that is truly breathtaking in its scope and telling, you will be happy to read this story and once you do, you’ll be tracking the rest of the series down, just as I did.

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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