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REVIEW: Coal Dust – CJ Baty

Coal Dust - CJ Baty

Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

The Legend of the Ghost Train continues:

1930’s Harlan County Kentucky

Boone Douglas and Tucker Winchester are from different worlds, both knew that being homosexual could be a death sentence in this backwoods hell. Their love blossomed in spite of everything.

Two men find love, during a difficult time for the Appalachian states, where many lived in poverty. They struggled, working long days in coal mines for pennies. There were also hostilities between mining companies and the unions who wanted to rally the mine workers. There’s a reason it’s called Bloody Harlan County.

A greedy man, a cave full of miners, and two lovers suffered the worst fate imaginable.

Craig Waterson, a descendant of Tucker, fell down an abandoned air shift leading to a caved in mine. He dreamed or walked through the past seeing Boone and Tucker fall in love, then lose everything. When he awoke, he discovered that Tucker’s ghost had followed him to the present with a reques

Craig, Tucker, and Doug Harper, Boone’s great nephew, work together to recover the remains of the miners who were killed in the Copperhead Mining Accident. Many secrets have to be uncovered before Boone and Tucker can find peace or Craig and Doug can find their own happily ever after.

The Review

“Coal Dust” is the third novel of CJ Baty’s “The Legend of the Ghost Train”.  The tale transports the readers to the 1930’s in Harlan County, Kentucky, and the danger of the coal mines and the brave souls that worked them every day.

In the present day, Craig Waterson inherits a shack from his grandfather and a trust fund from his great-great grandfather. He’s anxious to get to the Gulston Camp and the Culpepper Mine.  Craig and his friends Arthur and Tom Culpepper plan to take a hike to the site to finish the shack. They’re warned by Tom’s ninety-two year old grandfather, Wesley Culpepper, to stay away from the camp, but Craig already knows that the camp is safe.

Craig plans to write a book about the Bloody Harlan County and the mining camp, and this trip will be perfect for his research.

As their hike takes them on some shaky ground, they run across an air shaft. Craig is surprised they haven’t come across more. In the excitement of getting closer to the camp, Craig falls through another shaft, and ends up in a strange dream-like place with someone he’s heard of before – Tucker Winchester, his great uncle, who disappeared in 1932.  In this dream-like place, he becomes a part of Tucker Winchester and Boone Douglas’ life.

When Craig awakens in the hospital, he finds himself in a panic.  He needs to rectify what happened to Tucker and Boone and the others who suffered in the mine.  His injuries are too severe, though, and he has to concentrate on rehab.  He meets a great therapist, Doug Harper, who also holds secret of his own.

As Craig and Doug, gradually get closer, they team up with friends to bring closure to the tragedy of the Culpepper Mine.  But will they be too late for Tucker, Boone and the meeting of the Ghost Train?

Baty spins a very in-depth historical tale about the miners in Kentucky, including the danger, their suffering, and the corruption and greed of the mine owners.  It was also a time where being gay often led to harassment and even death.  “Coal Dust” is not a scary story per se, and the ghosts don’t harm anyone. What’s really scary is what living men will do to harm and cheat to feed their own greed, without regard for the safety of others.

The story of Tucker and Boone is romantic and heartbreaking, full of sadness for all the young boys and men who lost their lives in the tragedy.

This is another outstanding historical/paranormal novel from CJ Baty. She had great insight into her characters and the relationships with their ancestors. Some will find happiness, while others will end in sadness and grief.  

“Smoky Mist” and “Cannon Fire” are the other two novels in “The Legend of the Ghost Train” series.  Each one addresses a different historical aspect – the Civil War in one and lumberjacks in the other.

As “Coal Dust” deals with coal mines,  I encourage readers to take a look at the Dedication, Author”s Note and Acknowledgement and “The Legend of the Ghost Train”, included in this novel. for more information.

I highly recommend “Coal Dust” – a definite page-turner!

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.


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