One of the things I like about Jo Goodman’s books, including A Touch of Frost, is the heroes. They are strong and protective without being smothering. They want the heroines to be strong, and they encourage that strength. They don’t confuse the miseries that were inflicted on the heroines with the heroines themselves, and they have enough faith in the heroines to believe they will not just survive but overcome those miseries.
That said, I also like her recent westerns in part because they aren’t quite as dark as the regencies, like the Compass Club series, were.