February's theme for the 2013 TBR Challenge was Recommended Read, but I only had one book that qualified--generally, if a friend I trust recommends a book, I read it quickly rather than letting it gather virtual dust on my Kindle. I tried the book (which shall remain nameless, given the delicacy of giving negative reviews when I'm an author myself), but the author's voice didn't work for me, and two chapters in I wanted to strangle both the hero and heroine.
Since I'm a firm believer that life is too short to read books that don't work for you, I gave up and went to my LONG list of possibilities for April's New-to-You Author Category. I selected Miss Jacobson's Journey, by Carola Dunn.
It's a traditional Regency, with a PG, kisses-only sensuality rating, but with a decidedly non-traditional heroine and setting. The heroine, Miriam Jacobson, is an English Jew who's been living on the Continent with her doctor uncle for nine years after having become estranged from the rest of her family by rudely rejecting the suitor the matchmaker brought for her. Now she wants to go home, but at the height of the Napoleonic Wars, journeying from France to England isn't a simple task. She and her maid/duenna are recruited by Jakob Rothschild to help two men smuggle gold to Wellington in Spain, with the promise of help getting home once she completes her mission. Naturally, one of the men in her party is the suitor she rejected all those years ago, and he's grown and matured in the intervening years into a far more attractive man than she ever would've dreamed possible...
From the time I started reading traditional Regencies in high school, I've always loved any non-traditional setting in the subgenre. (Not that I don't love a nice country house party or London Season tale, too. I just crave variety.) Following the drum in the Peninsular War? I'm there. Congress of Vienna? Fascinating. Canada? More, please. Brussels just before Waterloo? Wonderful! America, before, during, or after the War of 1812? Why not? India? Yes, though I've seen some that make me wince with cultural stereotypes.
So this book had me halfway to hooked from the beginning because of the setting, and the story delivered on its promise. I enjoyed the characters, the sweet romance worked beautifully for me, and I will definitely be buying more of Dunn's backlist.