Tiny, blond Maggie O’Riley may look like a delicate doll, but her skill as a horse trainer able to tame even the most violent animal has made her a legend. As for her new boss, Rafe Delaney, everyone knows that no mortal woman will ever gentle that man. He’s too sexy, stubborn, and decidedly single for anything more than a fling, and that’s not Maggie’s style. But life at Shamrock Ranch has a funny way of bringing out the Irish in everybody—and before Maggie can list all the reasons her attraction to Rafe is just plain wrong, she’s losing more than her willpower in the heat of his touch.
Rafe is used to calling the shots on his family’s legendary Arizona ranch, but beautiful, talented Maggie sends his head spinning, his heart racing, and his body aching in overdrive. She’s not the kind of distraction he needs as ruthless saboteurs stage a deadly showdown to break the Delaneys—but since when did Rafe ever back down from a challenge? Especially considering the only thing that’s ever tamed a Delaney man is a spirited and determined woman who’s brave enough to try.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
It was said that the Delaneys were descended from Irish kings and were still kissing cousins to half of Europe’s royalty. Being more than an ocean away, Europe’s royalty could scarcely confirm this.
Luckily for the Delaneys.
Old Shamus Delaney was wont to speak reminiscently of various cattle reivers, cutthroats, and smugglers in his family, but only when good Irish whiskey could pry such truths out of him. Sober, he held to it tooth and nail that the Delaneys were an aristocratic family—and woe to any man who dared dispute him.
They were a handsome family: tall and strong of body, quick and keen of mind. Nearly all of them had dark hair, but their eyes varied from Kelly-green to sky-blue, and it seemed at least one person of every generation boasted black eyes that could flash with Delaney temper or smile with Delaney charm.
None could deny that charm. And none could deny that the Delaneys carved their empire with their own hands and wits. Royalty they may not have been, but if Arizona had been a country, the Delaneys would have been kings.
Whatever his bloodlines, Shamus Delaney sired strong sons, who in turn passed along the traits suitable to building an empire. Land was held in the teeth of opposition, and more was acquired until the empire spread over five states. Various businesses were tried; some abandoned and some maintained. Whenever there was a call to battle, the Delaney men took up arms and went to war.
Many never came home.
In the first generations, an Apache maiden caught a roving Delaney eye, and so the blood of another proud race enriched Delaney stock. Sometime before the turn of this century a Delaney daughter fell in love with a Spanish don who really could claim a royal heritage. She was widowed young, but her daughter married a Delaney cousin, so there was royal blood of a sort to boast of.
They were a canny lot, and clan loyalty was strong enough to weather the occasional dissensions that could tear other great families apart. The tides in their fortune rose and fell, but the Delaney luck never entirely deserted them. They built a true dynasty in their adopted land, and took for their symbol the shamrock.
They were a healthy family, a lucky family, but not invulnerable. War and sickness and accidents took their toll, reducing their number inexorably. Finally there was only a single Delaney son controlling the vast empire his ancestors had built. He, too, answered the call to battle in a world war, and when it was over, he answered another call—this one from the land of his ancestors. He was proud to find the Delaney name still known and respected, and fierce in his newfound love for the land of his family’s earliest roots.
But his own roots were deeply set in the soil of Arizona, and at last he came home. He brought with him a bride, a true Irish colleen with merry black eyes and a soft, gentle touch. And he promised her and himself that the Delaney family would grow again.
While his country adjusted to a life without war, and prosperity grew, Patrick Delaney and his wife, Erin, set about building their family. They had three sons: Burke, York, and Rafe.
As the boys grew, so did the empire. Patrick was a canny businessman, expanding what his ancestors had built until the Delaney family employed thousands. Ventures into mining and high finance proved lucrative, and the old homestead, Killara, expanded dramatically.
By the time twenty-one-year-old Burke was in college, the Delaney interests were vast and complex. Burke was preparing to assume some of the burden of the family business, while nineteen-year-old York was graduating from high school, and seventeen-year-old Rafe was spending every spare moment on a horse, any horse, at the old Shamrock Ranch.
Then tragedy struck. On their way to Ireland for a long-overdue vacation, Patrick and Erin Delaney were killed in a plane crash, leaving three sons to mourn them.
Leaving three sons…and a dynasty.