An improbable romance brings a flashy New Yorker to coal country.
Opting for a fictional excavation of the territory he mined in three bestselling memoirs (Sky of Stone, 2001, etc.), Hickam introduces us to Song Hawkins, a beautiful, successful executive who runs her father’s business acquisitions with an iron hand. When she falls for West Virginia mine superintendent Cable Jordan during a meet-cute accident, however, her brain goes out the window. While on a romantic vacation she agrees to a quickie wedding, then the two return to their separate lives, hoping the future will resolve their lifestyle—and location—conflicts. Song tries first. Arriving in the mountain town of Highcoal, she’s appalled by the filth and apparent ignorance of the natives, who judge her “a pure little witch.” Song lasts four days before fleeing back to a ridiculously stereotyped New York. But Song’s heart belongs to Cable, and to help her get him back her father buys the mine’s controlling company, effectively putting her in charge. When an accident kills one of the few people she liked during her brief stay, Song returns to Highcoal and ends up wearing the red helmet of a mine trainee. If she’s going to save the floundering mine—and Cable’s job—she’s going to learn about it from the bottom up. In the real world, acquisitions expert Song would be highly unlikely to be involved with the day-to-day running of any company, but why let reality stand in the way? The pure and noble spirits of Highcoal have ruined New York for our spunky heroine, and it’s only a matter of time before she’s back in Cable’s arms, $200 blouses forgotten. Hickam’s caricatures do neither community justice.
Only the mine resembles a living thing in this flat and utterly predictable tale.