Sunday, December 13, 2015



Welcome to my very first blog tour--and it's for one of my very favorite people and her new book, Soda Springs.

Author Carolyn Steele
I couldn't be happier for my cute friend, Carolyn Steele. She has outdone herself this time. I was privileged to be in her critique group as she was creating this book. I know it's solid--it's authentic, she did her research, and came up with the magical plot, with all the twists and intrigue.

And thank you for visiting my blog. Please feel free to leave friendly comments below, and check out the . . .

a Rafflecopter giveaway
. . . Enter above to win a free eBook of Soda Springs. You must! You really want to read this book.

Here's some information about the book:
     Soda Springs is an historical fiction/romance. It was published by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media. The book has 284 pages. This is Carolyn Steele's second novel. Her first is Willow Springs, also published by Cedar Fort.

Here's a teaser about the book:
     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, but tragedy strikes, leaving Tessa and her father to build a new life in Soda Springs, Idaho. 

     If you're familiar with Carolyn's writing, especially her first book, Willow Springs, you know she can't help but create interesting characters. Soda Springs is no different. She writes real life. You will gasp in many places. Heartwarming and heart wrenching, each chapter has a hook, meaning, you're hooked, so don't even try to put down the book. Get comfortable. 

     Soda Springs does not disappoint. I was hooked from the very first chapter due to Carolyn Steele's beautiful word tapestry. That's what gets me--the charm, descriptions, colloquy, and images conjured while reading beautiful words.The book transported me to another time and place. That's what I love about historical fiction, my favorite genre to read. And this one also has some romance as well. 

     Carolyn Steele weaves in real life people from Soda Springs to interact with her fictional characters which makes me want to do more research about the era and the location--1860s Idaho. It also hails back to the South during the end of the Civil War, recapturing the turmoil of that time period, and the effects war can have on those who fought and lived through it.

     As mentioned, the book begins with an angst-ridden bonfire which precipitates the Henry Darrow family's flight from North Carolina. 

Here's an excerpt from the book:
     Following the wagon master's bellow, Tessa climbed into the back of the wagon to sit beside Bethany. Bawls from the oxen and mules mingled with the shouts of anxious men and cracks from whips to start the procession of wagons and herds that would eventually lead to Oregon.
     "I'm not scairt," Bethany whispered.
     Tessa felt a lurch as the wagon fell into line. "No reason you should be," Tessa said, but she pulled her sister closer. Watching the town grow smaller against the pinking dawn on the horizon, she felt the embrace of anxiety tightening around her heart.
     "Are you scairt?" Bethany asked, clutching Tessa's arm between her tiny hands.
     "Naw," Tessa lied.

     The heroine of the story, Tessa Darrow, leaves a life of luxury for the dusty Oregon Trail. Later, after sickness and many other trials, she takes on surmounting responsibilities in the burgeoning Idaho territory in post-Civil War days.  

Here's another book excerpt:
     Sitting on the side of the wagon, she watched the shadows from its hickory bows flickering in the firelight. Like ribs of a giant whale, Tessa thought. And there, in the belly of the decrepit beast lay her father--eating only what Tessa could guide into his mouth. With each swallow, Tessa would pray the food would stay down long enough to nourish him.

     Once ensconced in the town of Soda Springs, I was introduced, along with the Darrows, to a faction of Latter-day Saints I'd never heard of--the Morrisites. True story. There was a war between the followers of Brigham Young and the followers of Joseph Morris, a wannabe prophet. After a few deaths and injuries on both sides, the Morrisites escaped to the Idaho Territory and beyond. This book is about those who settled near Soda Springs. This true story, and some of its historic characters, are beautifully woven into the fictional plot lines. The book is not a religious one, though mention is made of the LDS religion and the Morrisite dissenters. You'll have to read about it. I had no idea!

     The tale takes us from North Carolina to Idaho, beginning when Tessa Darrow is nearly fourteen. We watch her grow into a lovely, young lady, and eventually a young woman, fit to be married--but to whom? She has three marriage proposals in all; one she would sooner forget. Which suitor does she choose? No spoilers here. You'll have to read through the twists and turns and, truth be told, the nail biting (mine), to find out. And while you're reading, enjoy the descriptions of the area surrounding Soda Springs, such as Grays Lake and Sulphur Springs. There's even an eventful trip in the story to Great Salt Lake City.

Original Soda Springs Settlement Site, now covered by the Alexander Reservoir
Here's another Excerpt:
     Tessa's breath caught in her chest, and she fairly tingled with excitement. "Oh, my. Have you ever--?" The valley spread before them in a haze of green, gold, and purple, set against a majestic blue mountain rising in the distance. A crystalline lake stretching northward glittered in the afternoon sun. Great flocks of cranes, geese, swans, and smaller birds rose in swells--circling, dipping, and darting in an avian ballet. A dozen deer grazed fifty yards downhill to their right; two, with their ears keen, kept watch on the intruders while the rest munched on chokecherries and wheatgrass.
     "This must be the valley that the Pierssons told me about," William whispered.
     "Grays Hole," Mrs. Holt said, her voice filled with reverence. "Jens spoke of it often. He used to trap beaver, muskrat, fox--you name it--up here." As if on cue, a red fox popped its head up from behind a boulder, cocked it quizzically at the group, and then scampered off into the brush.
     "Grays Hole? Well, that's a perfectly hideous name. That's a lake in the distance, not a hole." Straightening her back, Tessa folded her arms and assumed her most officious demeanor. "We shall rename it Grays Lake."
     William folded his arms as well and, smiling, gave a curt nod. "Thus it shall be."

   See what I mean about beautiful writing? And this place, Grays Lake, still exists (see photo below).

Grays Lake in modern times

About the author:
     Born and raised in Utah, Carolyn Steele imagined herself with her name on a book for twenty years before her first novel, Willow Springs, was published in 2014 by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media. She was introduced to western novels at a very young age by her grandfather, the son of a gold miner. Her father was raised in the Grays Lake valley of southeastern Idaho, near Soda Springs. She visited there every summer as a child, so it's no wonder her descriptions of the valley are so vivid.
     Carolyn's day job is writing marketing communications for a non-profit health insurance company. She earned her undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Utah. Her non-fiction articles have appeared in numerous national magazines. She is also a professional photographer, and hopes to travel the world one day with her camera--and her husband, of course. 
Author Carolyn Steele and her husband, Ron,
in front of the Anderson home, the only original structure from Soda Springs still standing.
     Visit Carolyn's website and see more of her photographs of the area, and pictures of real life characters who are featured in her book. 

__________Watch the Soda Springs__________
featuring images graciously contributed by some of the residents of Grays Lake

Here are more places to visit: 
Carolyn's Facebook
Twitter: @CarolynSteeleUT 

Book purchase links: 
Books and Things 

     I know you'll enjoy Soda Springs as much as I did!  
 And now, if you haven't already, sign up for the GIVEAWAY of a free Soda Springs eBook.

The GIVEAWAY runs from December 11 through the end of the Blog Tour on December 21. You must be 18 or older to enter, and have a valid email address. You may enter every day. Winner will be posted on this blog between Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, and will be notified via the email provided. Winner has 48 hours to respond, if no response winner forfeits and another winner will be chosen.

Kindly comment. That would be awesome! Thanks again for visiting.


  1. Looks like a great book and sounds like one I would enjoy. Definitely adding this to my "to read" list. At times I really enjoy historical romance with a western feel, I think its the country girl in me. I didn't even realize it until I saw you mention her first book, but I remember reading that one a year or so ago, and I remember enjoying it. Great review Susan!!!!!!

    1. Kristy, thanks for your comment. Yes, you must add this to your "to read" list. It's a great one.
      Thanks for all your help! I hope you entered for a free eBook!

  2. Susan, what a brilliant blog tour post! (And not just because you loved my book.) You have beautifully captured my heart in writing about Soda Springs. And your lyrical prose really shines. I can't wait to read your novel, and more of your blog posts! I'm so honored to have Soda Springs featured here. Thank You!

  3. Carolyn, what can I say. As you said, I was a midwife on this book. Even so, the revisions you did were more beautiful than what I read through the first time. Brava!

    1. Good afternoon, Ms Knight!!

      I came across the writings of Ms Steele on her debut novel 'Willow Springs' before I encountered her wicked good new story inside 'Soda Springs'! To me, this new one was the type of all-encompassing historical Western I'm dearly hoping to find and so very rarely have the pleasure of reading! I couldn't put the book down - it remains one of my cherished 'unputdownables' for 2015, too! A fact I'll be revealling a bit more about when I disclose my Year End Survey in a short while! (still composing my thoughts!)

      Wicked happy seeing you were an Alpha Reader on this novel! What fun you must have had seeing everything ahead of time!? I love being a betareader for authors for similar reasons, and hope I can find some projects to work on as the year progresses.

      I missed visiting everyone on the blog tour, as I was taken down by a bad virus in December. Just starting to wing my way around the book blogosphere! Do drop by if your keen to know what my impression were on a story you already love yourself!

      My review of Soda Springs

    2. Jorie, I loved reading your review of Soda Springs. Your writing is fabulous. I hope to be hearing from you again soon.