Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Guest Review: This Fierce Splendor by Iris Johansen

This Fierce SplendorThis Fierce Splendor
by Iris Johansen
Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 1st 1988 by Bantam
ISBN 0553269917
Courtesy of NetGalley
Scottish beauty Elspeth MacGregor travels to Hell's Bluff to hire Dominic Delaney to lead her to the magical lost city of Kantalan, but at first he refuses -- the last thing he needs is to join a virginal scholar on a dangerous quest.
But Elspeth's fiery will coupled with her silky hair and milk-white skin prove irresistible, and Dominic acts -- first with angry lust, then with a searing yet tender passion that brands her eternal soul and bonds them both to a heated and turbulent future.
Through wonders and tragedy, across the untamed splendors of Arizona and Mexico, Elspeth and Dominic draw closer to their dual destiny: to experience the dark mysteries and magnificent riches of Kantalan... and to fulfill the promise of lasting love and the birth of a bold family dynasty.
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Jolene’s Review: 
Elspeth MacGregor has come to Hell's Bluff in the Arizona Territory in search of Dominic Delaney, the infamous gunslinger. Convinced that Dominic can help her find the lost city of Katalan, the hidden city and lost civilization that she had dreamed about since she was a little girl. Elspeth will go out of her way to convince Dominic to take her to Katalan. What she never expected was the few friendships to be made, discovering just how strong and brave she could be and maybe, an unexpected love.

This is my second Love-swept book and my first time reading anything by Iris Johansen. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but really struggled with the prologue. It left me feeling a little confused as if I just stepped into the middle of a story with characters and a very old city that I needed to know more about. Though it left me scratching my head, it all came together toward the end where I was finally able to make sense of those first few pages. If anyone comes across that same feeling as I did in the prologue, hold on and keep reading. The puzzle pieces fit together nicely.
This book was originally published in 1988 and I am so glad it was republished and put in front of my face. I get so caught up in the many books that are being released currently, that I'm missing out on older published books that contain great stories I cannot wait to pick up some more Love-swept romances.

Elspeth was a great character; shy, timid and very insecure. She did a lot of growing in this book and I loved watching her become more comfortable with herself. She was determined to be strong and brave and after enduring the emotional abuse of a father who never respected her or thought much of her, it was easy to see why she thought of herself as plain and unlovable.

Dominic Delaney on the other hand, saw something in Elspeth upon first meeting. She was stubborn and he had a spark of admiration for her. Dominic first comes off as harsh and mean and at times, I was at war with myself on whether or not I even liked his character. I liked hearing his thoughts and feelings on Elspeth, but then he would open his mouth and say something that made me want to hit him over the head, or his actions didn't feel right. When it came down to it, Dominic was fighting his feelings and trying to keep her at bay. His heart was in war with his conscious and his body was at war with both. He wanted something he didn't think he deserved. Dominic had a bad boy image and reputation, but he was also a very loving and sensitive man and it was easy to see when we had a glimpse of the real Dominic. It showed in the sacrifices he made to protect his family and the love he had for Killara and the family homestead. He feels an instant attraction to Elspeth and fights it for fear he will ruin her. Dominic Delaney has had a price on his head for 10 years, for killing a man in a fair fight. The man's father had set out hired mercenaries to revenge his son. After being careless not long before, Dominic lost a Friend whose death was used to draw him out. He is now convinced anyone he loves could be in danger, which is why Dominic is so guarded.

I loved seeing how Elspeth affected Dominic and because of the way Elspeth was raised in thinking herself unattractive and not pleasing to a man's eye, she is innocent in the ways of a young woman and really knows nothing of love and sex. I thought it was funny a few times, just how inexperienced she was and not even aware of the things her body was trying to tell her. I loved watching her struggle with her attraction to Dominic as she was trying to sort through very strange emotional and physical feelings he brought out in her and all the while, unaware that Dominic is fighting his own feelings. Of course, some of that was due to some harsh words Dominic had said earlier in the story, that was at one point where I really wanted to reach into the book and smack him :) The author did a great job in giving these two some great chemistry. From the beginning, I was holding my breath every time I thought they were ready to give in, just to realize they were only little teases I was given to what was to come when these two finally came together. When they finally gave in, I was relieved and happy. The foreplay, the chemistry, the barbing and arguing all led up to a really great love story.
I must mention that the secondary characters really rounded this story out. Each time they stepped onto the page, even if just for a few lines, you stopped to take notice. The Delaney family dynamic was amazing and I really didn't want to let them go when the story ended, there are so many possibilities for follow up stories. I have no idea if there is more of the Delaney clan, but I plan to find out.

This is a great story of love, sacrifice, treasure hunting and a little bit of suspense thrown in. A frontier novel set in the Wild West where life was hard and unforgiving. There is death, love, drama and a family that grieves loss all the while dealing with an outside culture that not only caused some of that loss, but is now a part of that family dynamic. There are also some myth's thrown into this story as the search for Katalan is linked to the lost city of Atlantis. Really gave it an Indiana Jones Esq. feel to this book, though the search for Katalan didn't really happen till close to the end of the book. Elspeth's character talked about Katalan quite a bit and at one point, I thought it wasn't going to happen. The story really revolved around Dominic and Elspeth's romance, but when Katalan finally came into the picture, everything really fell into place.

Overall, this was a really great read and these characters will most likely prompt me for a re-read down the road. The only issue I had were a handful of mixed up sentences.
"The Delaney's wouldn't do things in the ordinary looked at shoulder. "I way, of course." She Patrick over Elspeth's suppose I should of

No, I didn't do that on accident, that's an actual sentence from my copy. I came across several of these throughout the book; it didn't take away from the story; just made me stop and go "Whaaaat????"  Took me a few seconds to understand what I was seeing and move things around till I could make sense of them. I was given a PDF copy of this book that I had converted, so I'm not sure if this is in all copies or just something that happened with mine. I'm interested to know if anyone else who has read this book also came across this in an e-copy.

Rating: 4 Wine Glasses

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