Carla Kelly, Safe Passage (Whitney finalist, historical)
I'm a long-time fan of Carla Kelly's--my mother, an avid Regency romance reader, discovered her years and years ago and introduced me to her books. And I've stayed a fan even with her shift to western, mostly LDS, historical novels. I thought her previous book, My Loving Vigil Keeping, was one of her very best. So I went into this book with admittedly high expectations.
Safe Passage follows some of the Mormon colonists in Mexico at the start of the Mexican revolution. Ammon Hancock manages to get himself to Utah, only to find that his estranged wife, Addie has stayed behind with her dying grandfather. Of course Ammon goes back for her, and the bulk of the novel is the story of how the two manage to evade the different factions of the Mexican army, guerillas, and even a mountain lion.
The historical details--of a time period I admittedly do not know much about--were fascinating. I liked, too, that this novel was told primarily from Ammon's perspective (something not as common from historical romance novels), and that it explores the reconstruction of a marriage rather than the typical meet-fall-madly-in-love scenario. That said, I wasn't always convinced by the on and off relationship between the two main characters and found the initial reason for their estrangement a little far-fetched: not that it couldn't have resulted in misunderstanding, but that the two allowed that misunderstanding to grow to the point it did.