Why I read this book: Many of you may already know that April 22nd is designated ‘EARTH DAY’ world-wide. In honor of this day, I was given the opportunity to read a book by one of my favorite authors. She writes her stories in a way that shows an appreciation of the outdoors and what the natural world has to offer quite well. She pulls me in with her description, and I can almost smell the earth, hear the birds, and feel the bark of the trees and wood *sigh*. It is a great pleasure to be pulled into a story like this. I came across this little gem a bit late, as its been on my to-be-read pile for a while.
But, first, to give you a little blurb about what exactly Earth Day is and why it is important:
“Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.”
Nature is very important to me in many ways. As an example, I have been working for more than two years to get 15 trees planted at our new workplace to help with shade in the summer, and insulation in the winter. We are out in the middle of a former ‘open field’ and get direct western sun in a bank of windows that causes the heating and cooling to be in a constant battle for anyone who happens to work on that side of the building.
Another reason I have been fighting for this sustainability project is to bring more wildlife in the way of birds, bees, and other flora and fauna to add a pleasant aesthetic to the surrounding area which otherwise looks very industrial, and is not a very pleasant place to take a walk, let alone work. Happy ending, the new building owner sees the possibilities of adding to the value of his facility by accommodating us with these changes, and we as employees are planting the first of the trees tomorrow, on Earth Day.
So what does this have to do with the story ‘Beneath the Surface’?
Well, imagine if you are big corporate lawyer just wanting to do your job without taking into consideration the people that will be left with what you have done to them and their community. You don’t live or work there, so why should you be concerned about the people after you leave? What’s the big deal?
Cover: I like the color choice and layout of this cover, and the two men displayed actually look like the character descriptions within the story. The barn looks like a wonderful place for Caleb’s woodworking business and the trees and rolling hills in the background give a little glimpse of the nature aspect behind the large piece of machinery. The cover is organized nicely, and does the story justice.
When Peter Carr’s company sends him to Southwestern Ontario to sweet-talk the town into agreeing to a gravel quarry proposal, he welcomes the challenge. Technically he’s a lawyer, but really he’s a problem-solver. He just never expected the problem to be Caleb Sinclair, the passionate but introverted artisan carpenter who lives next to the proposed quarry site.
“Know your enemy.” That’s Caleb’s philosophy. And trying to turn fertile farmland into a gravel pit earns Peter the title of “enemy.” Caleb loves that land, and if he has to make peace with his homophobic neighbors to make war on Peter, so be it. Except knowing his enemy doesn’t turn out anything like he expected. Peter’s not the fairy-tale monster-he just might be the first step to happy ever after.
Publication Date: August 20th 2012 by Dreamspinner Press, 200 pages
My thoughts: Peter, the smooth-talking big city lawyer, and Caleb, the somewhat introverted and gun-shy wood-working ‘farmer’ could not be more opposite. Their interactions with each other make up most of the story, and we do not really see a relationship develop until the last third of the book. The events which take place bring many questions to mind in the lovely little farming community that is now, due to no one’s fault in particular, going to be the new home to a very large and profitable gravel pit… Now, who would like to live next to one of those in their backyard? Not me, that’s for sure *smile*.
I empathize with the choices these two have to make. The author is very good at fleshing out all the issues that would be a realistic concern to a small tight-knit community: i.e. water contamination, increased traffic, noise-level, trucks hauling loads of gravel all day, every day, decreased quality of life, etc. She also presents the other side of the coin – the gravel for all our roads have to come from somewhere, right? “for the benefit of many vs. the detriment of a few”.
‘Caleb straightened up.
”…This soil has been feeding people for generations, part of the same cycle that I was talking about with the ashes and the trees for my firewood. Its great soil. Great farmland. And you’re going to scrape it all off and dump it somewhere, because you want to get at the stupid little rocks down beneath it.”
“The stupid little rocks are needed for roads. And buildings. It’d be nice if we could all live in our ancestral manors, but most of us don’t have that luxury. There are millions of people in this province, and they don’t just need homes – they need schools, and hospitals, and a shitload of other things that are all built with concrete. And concrete needs gravel.” Peter shook his head. He didn’t usually get this worked up.’
The author does a very gracious and insightful job of showing all points of view and every side to this politically divisive issue, and I found myself being drawn very much into the story, wondering how, if at all, the MCs could in any way have some kind of resolution and happily-ever-after. Bravo, but she does it, and I finished the story VERY happy with the conclusion.
I loved that Caleb was so in touch with the wood and chunks of trees that are his artistic medium of choice. In the following instance, he is trying to decide what to do with some cherry-wood, and Peter gives his input to what Caleb has been turning over and over in the table after they have both discussed their differences as introvert vice extrovert:
‘ “ I just meant… we both have good jobs for what we are, right?” There was no way Caleb could have kept himself from returning Peter’s smile. Peter didn’t gloat about the victory… he just took one final step closer so he could touch the chunks of wood on the table. “They remind me of a chess set, the way you’ve got them lined up. There’s the queen, and the king, and all these little guys could be pawns.” Then he stepped back and honest-to-God blushed. Caleb didn’t think people could fake a blush, could they? “Sorry,” Peter said. “Got a little carried away.” ‘
Another aspect of the story that really ‘humanized’ it for me was the inclusion of Caleb’s two mastiffs, Diesel and Diego. They have so much personality, they almost stole the show! I love how Kate writes her animal characters, like a true animal-lover:
‘ ”Whoa! That’s… you told him to get a stick, didn’t you?” The dog was dragging a tree trunk across the lawn toward them. It must have been six feet long, probably nearly a foot in diameter, and the only reason the dog could move it at all was that it had a stub of a branch sticking out as a mouth-hold.
“Diesel’s an over-achiever,” Caleb said. “It keeps him busy.” He looked down at the other dog, and released his grip on the collar. “Diego, go help!” He waved his arm in the appropriate direction. “Go on, Diego, get Diesel!”
Diego gave one wistful look in Peter’ direction, as if hoping for the chance to knock him over again, then bounded happily in the direction Caleb had indicated… immediately latched onto the same branch Diesel was gripping and started tugging mightily… in the opposite direction. ‘
Love these dogs!
We do receive our HEA, and the story was satisfying. The only downside for me was it felt as if the chemistry between the MCs was a little lacking, but because of all the events that have to take place to give resolution to the story, the author really had to spend as much time as she did setting everything up. The epilogue did provide some closure, and addressed some of the issues brought up, but didn’t give me closure on a couple items in question. Otherwise, this is a good read to celebrate Earth Day.