Saving Laurel Springs
Series: Smoky Mountain
Publication Date: 9/29/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
A charming portrait of the Smokies, their people, and a wonderful way of life." --Deborah Smith, New York Times bestselling author In a heartwarming novel set amid the lush splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains, Lin Stepp reunites two kindred spirits in a charming story of first love and surprising second chances. . . See ya later--and love you forever, Rhea Dean. Those are the words Rhea's childhood sweetheart, Carter Layman, used to say whenever they parted. Not that she places much stock in words anymore. After all, Carter drove off to college in California, promising to make a fortune to help save their families' vacation resort. Instead he stayed there and married someone else. It fell to Rhea to keep Laurel Springs going and she's done just that, working long hours on the camp grounds, buoyed by the beauty of her Smokies home. Now a widower with a young son, Carter has achieved huge success as a games developer. But he always planned to return to the spring-fed lake and the soaring mountains, to the covered bridge where he and Rhea made wishes and traded kisses. He's coming home to turn Laurel Springs into the place they planned to build together. And as he reveals the truth about his past, Rhea must decide whether to trust in the man--and the dreams--she's never forgotten.
A special thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Lin Stepp, returns with another installment of her charming Smoky Mountain series, with SAVING LAUREL SPRINGS, a camp rental assembly resort with picturesque cabins in dire need of repair--as well as those who own, and manage the property. Rhea and Carter’s family has owned the Laurel Springs Resort in the heart of the Smoky Mountains for years. She has longed to fix up the resort with rental bikes, washer and dryers, new computers, and updates to the assembly church, and grounds with new equipment and gazebo by the lake--however, the money is not there to make the repairs. They had planned to attend college together; however, it did not work out, as Rhea found excuses, and Carter moved to California and married someone else. However, when he returns to Laurel Springs, Jeannie and the others want them to be friends so they can hang out. Rhea is not so sure about those plans, as those times were gone. She thinks he is a traitor. If it was not summer and the height of tourist season, she would take off on a trip somewhere to avoid laying eyes on him. He was a snake. She hated him for what he did to her and how he hurt her. Jennie must be crazy to think she would want to buddy up to him and be chummy friends again. They had grown up together, had been best friends through childhood and sweethearts later on. He reeked of money, was sophisticated, and drove flashy cars. Now he has a son, Taylor the spitting image of Carter at the same age. Now for their first meeting she is in her old work clothes and caught off guard. Their dreams of saving the family vacation resort did not work out the way she planned. She resents staying in the town and working, while he moved on with another life. Now he is back and says he is planning on staying with old unfinished dreams. She knows it has been here all along so why come back now. Will Rhea resent Carter using his money and wealth to try and come back to revitalize Laurel Springs, and save the day. If she really wants these changes, why is she not happy? However, Rhea is bitter and has not thought about Carter’s life. She knows it probably cannot compare to his fancy adventurous life in California. Did he really want her to come to California, years ago? What really happened all those years ago? As the summer moves on Rhea felt more uncomfortable around Carter as they had revealed their hearts to each other and yet she still found herself unable to let go of the past. As the renovations continue and the excitement about the transformation and tourism heats up bringing fall retreats and workshops to Laurel Springs, she thinks more about the covered bridge and its traditions. Can she get past her anger to move forward with a future? Can she accept his son, Taylor? A heartwarming story of miscommunication, love, friendship – when things are not always as they seem. When selfish turns to selfless; a story of second chances. Lin Stepp always delivers a backdrop of beauty with her settings and well-developed flawed characters, for a life lesson and take away of the strong power of love. Having read the other books in the series--each can be read as a standalone; however, you will want to read them all. I was not wild about Rhea's character; however, liked Carter--she appeared to always blame someone else for her life, yet not doing anything to change her circumstances. Fans of Susan Wiggs and her Lake Chronicles– will enjoy the camp setting, light romance, friendship, family and special memories. I have worked and stayed at similar properties—and enjoy the nature and cabins, as a way to recharge, read, with great hiking, cycling, and waterfalls….soothing for the soul.(especially in the autumn-my favorite time of the year).
Looking forward to the ninth book in the series, “Welcome Back,” while revisiting with with familiar characters, coming next spring. Set in Maggie Valley area--have spent some time visiting in the area, with fond memories as a child.
About the Author
Dr. Lin Stepp is a native Tennessean, a businesswoman, and an educator. She is on adjunct faculty at Tusculum College where she teaches research and has taught a wide variety of psychology and counseling courses for over 16 years.
Her business background includes over 25 years in marketing, sales, production art, and regional publishing. She has editorial and writing experience in regional magazines and in the academic field.
Stepp has nine published novels each set in different locations around the Smoky Mountains. Her novels published by Kensington Publishing include Down by the River (June 2014), Makin’ Miracles (January 2015), Saving Laurel Springs (October 2015) and Welcome Back (March 2016) as well as a short novella A Smoky Mountain Gift included in the 2014 Christmas anthology, featuring Fern Michaels, and titled When the Snow Falls. Previous titles include: Second Hand Rose, Delia’s Place, For Six Good Reasons, Tell Me About Orchard Hollow, and The Foster Girls. Stepp and her husband have published a Smokies hiking guide titled The Afternoon Hiker (2014). Website Twitter Facebook