****I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review****
Much like Heldt’s other stories, “The Mine” follows the soon-to-be-graduating-from-college-ladies’ man, Joel, as he and his friend Adam return from a road trip across America. When a traffic incident prompts Joel to convince his friend to take a service road to get around it, and then explore a dilapidated mine, Joel’s life changes forever. The stars align and the mineral composite in the mine sends Joel back to 1941, just months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The reader watches as Joel pieces together where he is, how he got there, what he can do about it, and then what happens when his life gets even more complicated by falling in love. Heldt creates an endearing story about a young man who has to make some genuinely tough decisions: does he change the past and risk potentially his own existence for the woman he loves? Or does he break both of their hearts and return to where he belongs? While some sections of the book felt a bit slow, I genuinely enjoyed this version of Heldt’s time travel series!
This is the second book from this author I’ve read, and while I enjoyed “September Sky”, I can definitely say I liked “The Mine” a great deal more! I really liked the instant tension the author presents by thrusting Joel into a situation that he did not intend. Joel did not mean to travel back in time, he had no control over where he was going, no clue how it happened, or how to reverse it. Instead, he finds himself stuck with no money he can use without showing he’s from the future, and no plan for what to do, where to go, or how to get home. I really liked the struggle this created for Joel, and it made his interactions with the other characters in 1941 feel both nerve-wracking as he had to constantly lie to them, and a bit more authentic as to why Joel would stick around the first group he befriends. I will say that I wish there had been a bit more anguish on Joel’s part early on over the idea of being stuck out of his time, never to see his family and friends again, but the deliberation Joel makes when deciding if he should even return makes up for it, a little.
Heldt always does a lot of research going into these time travel books, he wants to make sure the clothes, the cars, the area etc. are all authentic to the time period, something I greatly appreciate. But sometimes his characters do or say things that break that spell for me, it’s pretty minor all things considered, but it sometimes broke the spell of this occurring in 1941 rather than 2000. Also, Heldt has a tendency to make his male leads irresistible to the opposite sex, they are all super models, perfect, and manage to catch the eye of equally attractive women who sometimes feel a bit superficial in their creation. His leading ladies usually don’t suffer from that, but there were times where I really felt that these women were being overly written from a male eye, but Heldt is a great writer with a lot of attention to detail, so I’m confident this gets better with later books in his series.
All in all, this was a fun science-fiction meets historical-fiction-romance, and the way Heldt blends those genres together really shines in “The Mine”. I enjoyed getting to know these characters and had more fun with the ethical debates Joel has about altering the past (and the future) in this book than some of Heldt’s other time travel stories, and for that, I am giving this book 4.25 stars!
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