I just read a novel that had several things going for it:
1) it was set in nineteenth-century America;
2) it was well-written;
3)it was meticulously researched.
Unfortunately, the fact that the author chose to write in the present tense was so distracting for me that I could not continue reading. ("He whispers in her ear that it is time to go. She turns away and rings for the butler.")
I realize that my aversion to the present tense in novels--especially historical novels--is a matter of taste. From a bit of googling, however, I get the impression that there are many others who find the present tense distracting to the point of ruin.