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    When Tessa Darrow discovers her father burning his Civil War uniform, she has no idea how his secret will devastate their family and drive them from their home in North Carolina. The family journeys along the Oregon Trail until tragedy strikes, leaving Tessa and her father to build a new life in Soda Springs, Idaho. This sweeping story illuminates an oft-forgotten era in LDS Church history. Filled with life and passion, it's a thrilling read for history buffs and romantics alike.

    Author: Carolyn Steele
    Specifications: 288 pages - 6x9
    Expected Release: Early December 2015

    Overall Customer Rating of 6 Reviews:


    At the beginning of this book, Tessa Darrow was 13 years old and lived with her family in North Carolina. One day, her father burned his Confederate uniform and the next morning announced that they were leaving for Oregon. She was sad to leave her home but really had no choice. She experienced profound loss along the way and she and her father finally made it to the small town of Soda Springs, Idaho. Their relationship was strained as Tessa was trying to deal with what happened along the way and the reasons they needed to leave their comfortable home in the first place.

    Tessa was likable from the beginning. Because of her circumstances, in some ways she grew up quickly, but in other ways she acted her age. It took a while to adjust to her new situation. Over time, there were two romantic interests, but it wasn't a triangle. She truly loved one of them and was willing to settle with the other one. This book spanned several years so she had lots of opportunity for growth and time to figure out her feelings. There were some humorous moments as she realized where her heart truly belonged.

    I was especially interested in reading this book because my parents grew up near Soda Springs and I've been there a few times. I wasn't aware of the history of the town and how it began. The residents of the town broke off from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS"). Polygamy was part of the story and the negatives and positives associated with it. Tessa and her father were not LDS and it was interesting to see how they reacted to certain situations (especially one that I found repulsive, as did they).

    Overall, I enjoyed this book. There were a few times that it moved a little too slowly for me. There were some great characters which added to the town and the story. This is the second book by this author and I've enjoyed them both. I'm looking forward to reading what she comes up with next!

    I received a copy of this book to review. My opinion is 100% my own.


    Great Book!

    I love books written in this time period. Every time I read books from this time period, I wish I lived back then. The simplicity of life is what I wish for daily.

    Soda Springs takes place during Civil War time. When Tessa Darrow discovers her father burning his Civil War uniform, she has no idea how his secret will devastate their family and drive them from their home in North Carolina. This book follows this family along their trek across the Oregon Trail, when tragedy strikes and leaves only Tessa and her father, Mr. Darrow to figure out where to go after the tragic death of her mother and sister. Tessa and her father must build a life for themselves in Soda Springs, Idaho where they don't know anyone, but a sweet women, Ms. Holt helps them in there dire need with kindness and love!

    The story shares some history of the LDS church that was very interesting to learn about, but it is not the focal point of the book. The book is the kind you don't want to put down. Some parts are sad, some party are very happy, and sometime you might be down right mad at a character in the story. Soda Springs is a wonderful read that includes hardship, romance, decision making and a girl trying to figure out what her heart truely wants.

    Duchesne, Utah

    Great Historical Fiction!

    I enjoyed reading this book, and appreciated the bit of history of the western U.S. that Carolyn Steele so skillfully put in as well.

    Tessa Darrow is an extremely likable character, and I found myself rooting for her in all her adventures and misadventures. From the beginning of the story until its very satisfying conclusion, I followed Tessa hoping that everything turned out well for her. Her father was a character I didn’t like quite so much. But he was believable, and ultimately sympathetic and redeemable. And I outright cheered for him in one instance when he responded the way he did in a situation that involved a married man hitting on Tessa.

    I thought William was a great character, believable, likable, balanced, and a worthy love-interest for Tessa.

    Mrs. Holt was another character I particularly liked. I appreciated her mix of common sense and compassion, and I was very pleased to see how things worked out for her. She was certainly someone who deserved a happy ending! Overall, the ending was quite satisfying to me. I was very pleased with it. Even Sarah, William’s childhood friend got a wonderful ending which she deserved after all the trials she had endured. The shallow, narrow, selfish men got their lasting comeuppance, and the good guys got their happy ending. Or perhaps I should say happy beginning!

    Mebane, NC

    Wonderful historical fiction

    From beginning to end, I loved every moment of this book. From the first page, readers know that there is a secret, and maybe danger coming. They know that something is about to change in the lives of the Darrow family.

    I knew I wanted to do the blog tour for this book just from the short synopsis. Civil War time in the South, a journey to the West, a love triangle, and learning something new about LDS history? That sounded like a perfect book to me.

    And it really was. Soda Springs is told from the perspective of a teenage North Carolina girl, named Tessa. One night, she saw her father burning his Confederate uniform. Little did she know what was in store for her and her family after that alarming night.

    Carolyn Steele knows how to expertly paint a landscape with words. She also knows how to acclimate the reader to time period, culture, and history in an interesting and authentic way. I was thrilled to be able to enjoy a great story and at the same time learn about how other people lived and why. This book, though not a true story, centers around a real place, and a real settlement. After I finished the book, I knew I wanted to read more about the Morrisites. I was pleased to find that the history I found, matched with the history in the book. It was so interesting, though also unfortunate. I was also excited to find that though most of the characters in the book were fictional, two were real Morrisites who lived in Soda Springs, Idaho.

    For me, a great book has characters you really can look up to, who are also human. A great book makes you giggle, cry, fall in love, think, and sometimes strongly object. A great book makes you sigh in contentment when it is over. Soda Springs does all that and more.

    There is so much tragedy in the novel, but it doesn’t overpower it. You may be shocked or cry a little, but you move on as the characters did and make the best of the situation at hand. Family relationships, friendship, hard work, service, self-reliance, and perhaps, most importantly, hope, helped the characters push through their trials. One of my favorite quotes in the book was, “Were it not for hope, the heart would break.”

    Steele truly created complex characters. Their strengths were evident, but so were their weaknesses. I found myself stepping into different characters’ shoes, such as Henry Darrow’s, and I could understand why he sometimes acted the way he did. For the most part, I was able to forgive characters for bad behavior, because their hearts and heartaches were so clearly portrayed. Everyone is human. We all make mistakes, but we all have great potential. That is a message from this book, as there were not only physical journeys to make, but also inner ones.

    I don’t want to tell too much of the story, but let’s just say friendships are made and grow. There are many hard and desperate times, but also good times. People leave, and some come back. Tessa has to do a lot of waiting. Life isn’t always happy for her, and she wonders what will become of her. In the end, all is well.

    I strongly recommend this book. I also recommend going to the author’s website,, and reading her blog post called “A Journey through Soda Springs.” I wish I had seen those pictures while reading the book, because they make the book that much more real.

    I know I will read Soda Springs again and again. I really hope there is a sequel, because I want to know what happens to everyone as the years pass. Thank you for sharing this work of art with us, Carolyn Steele!

    Great book, full of emotion

    I often think when I read books, such as this, that I would love to live in a simpler time. These people are hardworking and life is full from sunup to sundown--busy with surviving and taking care of basic needs. Our time now is filled up with so many distractions, but in the 1860s, life was hard, yet very satisfying.

    Soda Springs captured me heart and soul. I loved reading about the sudden decision that Henry made to move his family from their "posh" plantation in North Carolina to Oregon and the heartbreaking tragedies that ensued because of that decision; I loved reading about the day-to-day life and the way Tessa grew up and learned to survive in an extremely small town in Idaho; I loved reading about Tessa's feelings, coming-of-age, and determination to make the best of life; and I loved the sometimes shocking surprises that pop up throughout.

    Tessa is in the midst of growing up and sometimes acts childish and sometimes very mature, which is typical. Her emotions can occasionally get the best of her, but for the most part, she's a very likable, generous, and kind soul. I love her relationship with her father, Henry, and Mrs. Holt, a kind, yet no-nonsense woman in town. In fact, Mrs. Holt is one of my favorite characters.

    Spanning several years, Soda Springs tackles some tough topics, such as effects of the Civil War, religion, disease, kooky characters, and life on the frontier. I enjoyed it all and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good historical romance.

    Content: no language; mild violence (disease, death, etc--not extremely graphic); mild religious elements (necessary to the story, but not preachy); mild romance (kissing). Clean!

    *I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*