Making Life a Bliss Complete

Honest and heartfelt stories and lessons about home, family, love, faith, and personal growth.

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. Click To TweetSoda 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!

You can purchase the book here.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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 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.

About the author:

Born and raised in Utah, Carolyn Steele was introduced to western novels at a very young age by her grandfather, the son of a gold miner. She has been writing technical and marketing communications for most of her adult life. Her nonfiction articles have appeared in numerous national magazines. She earned her undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Utah. Her first novel, Willow Springs, was published in 2014.


Thank you for sharing!