Daughter of Fortune
This book is set in Valparaiso, Chile in the mid-nineteenth century. It's set in the British colony part of the town. The houses are all ugly because they are a mix of British and Chilean styles. Valparaiso is a port town, so there are a lot of ships there. The time period couldn't be changed, because the main character is going to leave for the Gold Rush. It would also be hard to get to California if the characters lived somewhere else, like back in England. Changing the setting would completely change the story.