Like Cerulean Lambda, what I most enjoyed about Backwards to Oregon was how slowly the romance between the two central characters developed. I had just finished reading Ronica Black's lolarious In Too Deep, where the main characters (uber-X and uber-G) make eye contact across a crowded room on some enchanted evening and realize that somehow they know, they know even then, that someday they'll see each other's naked sweaty bodies again and again. Who can explain it? Who can tell you why?
Ahem. In Backwards to Oregon, the time it takes for the main characters to Get It On is approximately the same amount of time it takes them to reach Oregon. It's like an Oregon Trail of the heart. (Amazing). If you are a fan of fast-paced, hot and heavy romances, this is probably not the romance novel for you. If, however, you enjoy the slow unfurling of a relationship (I know I do, it reminds me of secret feelings and high school!), you should read Backwards to Oregon. It is, no lie, a pretty great read.
I especially enjoyed Jae's delineation of Luke's character (I would hesitate to identify Luke as a lesbian; for most of the novel, he seems genderqueer). While a lot of historical fiction seems to feature 21st-century lesbians (with 21st century sexual politics!) in 19th-century garb - and Jae occasionally slips up on that front - Jae does a decent job of exploring Luke's gender identity and his sexuality in realistic, thoughtful, and historically sensitive ways.
Anyway, it's good period fiction, even if it isn't always historically accurate. Like my ladyfriend, I strongly recommend this one - it's maybe my favorite lesbian historical romance, and that's saying something.
Rating: An even more magical four out of five wagon wheels. (CHRIS PUREKA MARRY ME). (Ahem, back to business).