the Renegade York

By: Iris Johansen

Some men were made to fight dragons, Sierra Smith thought when she met York Delaney. The rebel brother had roamed the world for years before calling the wild, rough mining town of Hell's Bluff home. York gazed at her

with barely leashed violence before taking her in his arms, but the spirited young woman who'd penetrated his renegade's paradise had awakened a savage and tender possessiveness he'd never suspected in himself. Sierra had known loneliness and isolation too—enough to realize that York's restlessness had everything to do with finding out where he belonged. Could she convince him that love was a place, that the refuge he'd always sought was in her arms?

York, the Renegade Iris Johansen

For my good friend Fayrene, who asked, "Why don't we?" And for my good friend Kay, who laughed and said, "Why not?"

Preface 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. One "Open your coat and get your shirt damp." Chester Brady was gazing critically at Sierra Smith. "We need all the help we can get with York Delaney. He's as tough as they come."