September's theme for the 2013 TBR Challenge was Westerns, a romance subgenre that I rarely read. Much like with small-town contemporary romances, I have trouble connecting to the central fantasy. Being a city slicker is just too close to the core of my identity, I guess. (Mind you, I read plenty of rural, small-town, or otherwise isolated stories set outside of America. My baggage is strictly related to the urban-rural divide as it plays out in my own country. Which sounds odd, but I've met a British reader, currently living in London, who can enjoy small town settings in America, Australia, etc. but not villages in the British Isles, so I'm not completely unique.)
I do, however, have several Westerns on my Kindle, picked up as bargains or on a recommendation, so I didn't lack for choices for this month's theme. I picked Sunrise Over Texas, by MJ Fredrick. This historical romance set in the earliest days of American settlement in Texas was an emotional, compelling read in which both the hero and heroine have to overcome grief and past mistakes to move on with their lives, and I liked the fact that the heroine was in many ways the more dominant of the pair. Really, the hero was a beta type--the heroine was even a better shot than he was--which was unexpected and refreshing in any historical, and I suspect is even rarer in Westerns than, say, Regencies.
The story was gripping and gritty, especially the early sections where the hero and heroine are fighting to survive in an isolated environment. I don't know how accurate it was, since I'm far from being an expert on 1820's Texas. Recommended for readers looking for off-the-beaten-path historicals.
Full disclosure: This book was published by my publisher, Carina Press.