James Callahan is the grown adult son of Nicholas Callahan, owner of several West Virginia mines. James has always loved the backcountry and spent many years in Willow Hollow when he was young. He managed to make one lasting friendship, with Owain Rees, and regularly (anonymously) helps out the proud, but poor, folk of the Hollow. James’ changes to the mines have benefited the miners and company, too, with lowered risk and health insurance claims.
James is visiting Owain, bearing a truckload of groceries for distribution via the neighbor network, when he’s confronted with several personal and professional opportunities to become an integral piece of Hollow life. These opportunities are mostly mortifying to Owain’s elder brother, Cai. Cai has admired James from afar for years, sure the “boss’ son” would have no good purpose with a poor coal miner, like himself. Both men have been nurturing an attraction for a long while, and this visit seems to bring them into each others’ direct orbit like never before.
This is a short and (mostly) sweet contemporary romance. I picked it for Opposites Attract Week because we have the rich man-poor man trope, and also, the city boy-country man trope, though that one is a little more on the down-low. James knows the country, though he’s been boarding school educated and spent many years living in NYC before coming home to help manage the mines. Still, there is a particular culture to poor Appalachian towns that James can’t seem to breach, no matter how benevolent he acts. He’ll always be a suit, and Cai will always be a laborer. They do learn they have a lot in common, once they finally begin speaking to one another.
This is a novella, and I liked the overall development of the story within this shorter format. I think it could have been a little deeper, character-wise, and I struggled with how quickly Cai seemed to change his mind about initiating something with James. James is veritable saint, and Cai’s a good man—but they didn’t have nearly as much animosity to overcome as I’d expected. Cai’s family mostly adores James, with only the fathers (for both Cai and James) thinking his son isn’t making the best choice. That was amusing, having the mamas be totally cool. James had more animosity for his own father than for all but one person in the story—which seemed to disappear unexpectedly, and I didn’t get a good sense why/how they reached an accord. There are lots of plot elements that revolve around Cai’s family being a mess, and James being the white knight. Expect an HEA to resound throughout the Hollow.
Note: A copy of A Coal Miner’s Son is part of our Opposites Attract Week giveaway. Stop by for a chance to win this book and lots of other great prizes!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.