"The Mine" by John Heldt is a cross between a time travel, science fiction novel and a love story, blended quite nicely into one perfectly packaged piece.
In the beginning of the book, Joel is nearing graduation from college in the year 2000. He is on a road trip with his friend, Adam in Montana and they take a detour on their way home to Seattle. Adam is not very happy about the change of plans and the abandoned gold mine, but allows Joel a few minutes to go into the cavern.
While in the mine, Joel is swept into the past. The portal only opens during a certain alignment of the planets, which occurs about every 60 years. When he steps out of the mine, Joel ends up in the year 1941, just six months before the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.
In 1941, Joel is a homeless person in Montana with no money in his pocket and just the clothes on his back. He is able to sell his watch at a pawn shop and get food and other items with the proceeds. He teams up with other homeless men, down on their luck and hops a train to Seattle. This is where he meets Tom.
Joel breaks up a fight where Tom is being beaten up by a couple of thugs over a debt. For his heroism, Tom takes Joel under his wing and to his home. Joel settles in quite nicely in 1941 and becomes a star salesmen in Tom's father's furniture store.
One thing leads to another and Joel falls in love with Grace. This is where the story gets really good and you can see Joel maturing from the cocky college student to a caring young man.
Grace is the perfect girlfriend for Joel, but she is engaged to another man who will soon be shipped off to war. Their budding romance blossoms as the weeks go by while her fiancée is in training in another state. Joel and Grace become inseparable. That is, until Joel makes the decision to go back to the year 2000.
I loved the setting for this book, Seattle is one of my favorite places. I could see and feel the sights and sounds of the Pacific Northwest with the descriptive voice that the author used. To be in Seattle in the 1940's would have been a great time to be there.
Heldt has wonderfully blended a time-travel story with a romance, not something that is very easy to do. The balance of both was right on the mark for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and did not want it to end. When it did end, the smile on my face was one of pure satisfaction.