Publication Date: February 13, 2013
Just Beneath the Surface I by R.H. Ramsey is a story of abuse and violence told from the perspective of Kendall, an abused woman, and her daughter, Diamond, a young woman perched on the edge of joining her mother in a terrible cycle of bad choices. Can Kendall break the cycle in time to save her own life and to help her daughter escape what will likely be her own terrible end?
I must first apologize to this author. She sent me this novel in August 2012 (from Smashwords) and I agreed to review within a month, but completely slipped my radar. Having read the novel, I’m even sorrier that it did. Thank you for sending me this thought-provoking read.
I have never been in an abusive relationship. I have watched a LOT of true crime shows and read a LOT of true crime books that involve abuse and a woman staying in a relationship that clearly is going to escalate to hospitalization or even death. I can imagine those women having the same thought processes and rationales as Kendall. There’s a feeling after reading this book of having been behind the scenes to see something rare, and the need to share that new knowledge with women or men who may find themselves in a similar situation. I wondered while reading this novel if Ramsey or someone very close to her had been in this sort of situation because it rings so poignantly true.
Kendall is unhappy with her relationship and looks to move on. She’s been with the father of her two children a long time, and while marriage is important to her, he doesn’t see the point. He’s written as a bit of a self-absorbed jerk at the start of the novel. “My life is important and what you do doesn’t matter.” When they break off and Kendall starts a new relationship there are signs. Signs that she chooses to ignore. Ramsey does a good job showing us where Kendall’s life falls apart and the reasons she chooses to stay.
While she’s moving on, Diamond is falling apart. She’s promised her friend that they’ll wait to have sex until they’re married and then, in the midst of her parents’ divorce, breaks that vow with the man who was engaged to a friend’s mother. Her reputation at school is trashed, she’s called horrible names and boys are saying that they slept with her that haven’t (of course, she’s called a whore and they’re patted on the back). She gets involved with an older authority figure that warns her up front that he’s intense in relationships. Like all girls, she finds this appealing at first, but the reality can be scary.
What most impressed me about this book was how carefully Ramsey plotted the abuser. He’s about control. He references Kendall’s former model status and he’s clearly insecure in his relationship with her. Each time something happens he says the right things. They curl up and talk and he pampers her and for a few days everything is okay until the next time there’s an imperceptible slight. Kendall must tell him that she loves him in a certain way, quit her job so he’s her only interaction.
The only issue I had with this book is that Kendall did not seem capable of being alone. She goes to the new domestic situation very quickly. I would have liked for her, just for herself, to have some time to depend on herself, but I can see how that might not have worked within the storyline. I can also see how that is really what people do. I have known more than one person who got married the day their divorce was finalized (or the day after). Nothing like taking time for self-evaluation.
The reader may be looking at this review thinking that I’m really spoiling this novel. This is not half of what the reader will experience. There’s also an intense sense of danger. Will this be the ultimate cautionary tale? Will it cause you to look at your neighbors and wonder what is beneath the surface?
I am giving this book to my daughter when she’s a teenager to read and suggest that women who are dating to pick it up. Look for the signs, ladies. He may seem a prince but he may actually be a frog.
R.H. Ramsey is a military wife and mother of two who has made learning a purpose in her life. For further reading check out the review Just Beneath the Surface II: Landon’s Story (Volume 2) and Undone: Excerpts, short stories and other musings.