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The Cactus Creek Challenge
     

The Cactus Creek Challenge

4.8 13
by Erica Vetsch
 

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Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus

Overview


Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 05/11/2015
Blending laugh-out-loud humor into a story of life on the Texas frontier is a difficult job, but Vetsch (Colorado Dawn) manages to do it with plenty of faith and panache in this historical romance set in Cactus Creek, Tex., in 1888. Cassie Bucknell, the town’s teacher, has been in love with Sheriff Ben Wilder since she was in pigtails. Ben, however, can only see the tomboy she once was. When they become one of the two couples to switch jobs as part of the town’s month-long fund-raising challenge, Cassie’s stubbornness leads her into interesting predicaments. Jenny Hart, a baker in town, is a woman with a young daughter fleeing the past. For her part of the challenge, Jenny takes over the livery, while livery owner Carl Gustafson is put in charge of the bakery with mixed, and hilarious, results. The pair of love stories flow beautifully as the reader is immersed in the joyful adventure of life in a simpler, more faith-filled time. Agent: Rachelle Gardner, Books & Such Literary Management. (July)
RT Book Reviews - Patsy Glans

Laugh-out-loud romance about the battle of the sexes, with a twist. The saying "Anything he can do, I can do better" is tested in a new way, and the results will surprise you. Vetsch has brought new life to a sometimes overused plot and has made it fresh and funny.
CBA Retailers+Resources - Kim Peterson

Vetsch devises a fresh plot filled with delightful hijinks, humor, and romance in a tale of 1880s Texas. The appealing cast includes interesting secondary characters and a host of schoolchildren that will make fans of historical novels wish they lived in Cactus Creek.
From the Publisher

“Vetsch brings Cactus Creek—and romance!—to life in Ben and Cassie's beautifully executed love story. Her warm words made me smell bread baking and romance brewing. . .two heady effects that worked perfectly together. Kudos, Erica!” 
 
Bestselling, multi-published author, Ruth Logan Herne

“A story full of adventure and laughter with not one, but two, romances. The characters are sharply drawn. Ms. Vetsch has the delightful ability to turn a phrase in a way that brought a smile of pleasure to my lips. An enjoyable read.”

Linda Ford, author

“. . .I love how Erica Vetsch sprinkles fresh language (biscuits as hard as doorknobs) and characters (every single one is unique) into an ageless story of change, love, and restoration. You'll find yourself challenged in Cactus Creek, too. I loved this book!" 

Jane Kirkpatrick, bestselling author of A Light in the Wilderness

“Two couples + too many chuckles and chortles to count = a doubly delightful read. Those who pick up Erica Vetsch's fun-filled story will be roped in from the start and will flip pages faster than a chuck wagon cook does flapjacks, as they race to find out how her captivating characters deal with the many challenges that come their way. Another winner from a talented storyteller!”
 
Keli Gwyn, author of Family of Her Dreams

The Cactus Creek Challenge is a delightful read. The characters stole my heart as they stepped up to the challenge of walking a mile in another’s shoes, so to speak. By trading professions for a month, the characters creatively carried out tasks outside their own comfort and talent. Ms. Vetsch skillfully weaves multiple sub-plots together to create a novel true to the historical West sprinkled with humor and wit and a good dose of sigh-worthy love.”

Audra Harders, author of Rough Road Home

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781630589271
Publisher:
Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
07/01/2015
Series:
Cactus Creek Challenge
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
908,978
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

The Cactus Creek Challenge

A Novel


By Erica Vetsch

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 Erica Vetsch
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63058-931-8


CHAPTER 1

Cactus Creek, Texas Saturday, March 31, 1888


You'd think, after all this time, I'd be over him.

Cassie Bucknell's chest constricted as it always did when she encountered Sheriff Ben Wilder. She didn't need to examine him. She knew him by heart — from his scuffed, high-topped boots to the leather-banded black hat on his dark brown hair — but she looked him over just the same. A longing ache made her drop her gaze, and she regained control of herself lest someone guess her thoughts.

Around her, voices buzzed, men laughed, women gossiped, and people jostled to find their seats before the town meeting commenced, but Cassie heard and felt little beyond the beating of her heart against her ribs.

"I declare, we're cheek by jowl in here. Are we all going to fit?" Jenny Hart took the seat next to her, gathering in her skirts. "I am beginning to have sympathy for sardines." The new town baker righted her straw bonnet after an elbow knocked it askew. "I didn't even know there were this many people in town, much less that would come to a council meeting. I fear the schoolhouse will burst." Her Southern accent, so different from the Texas twang Cassie was used to, was as rich and beautiful as her clothing.

"Normally, you can hardly get a quorum to attend." Cassie dragged her attention back to her surroundings. "But today they're announcing the Challenge contestants. Everybody wants to see who they are."

"I never heard of such a thing being done by a town before, and I can't believe you talked me into entering."

I can't believe I entered myself. Cassie surveyed her little kingdom, this schoolhouse-turned-temporary-council-chambers where she'd taught for the past seven months. Women occupied the desks where her pupils normally sat, and around the edges of the room and crowding the entryway, men lounged and waited for things to get under way. "This is the first time they've opened the Challenge to women."

Dr. Bucknell — mayor, head of the town council, and Cassie's father — rose and placed his fingertips on the teacher's desk. "Ladies and gentlemen, thank y'all for attending today. I know you're anxious to get to the Challenge part of the meeting, but there are a few other matters to clear up before we do."

Cassie kept her eyes focused forward on her father, but she knew where Ben was as easily as a compass needle knew north. Across the room to her right, he stood next to Carl Gustafson, the livery stable owner. Not as tall as Carl — nobody in town matched Carl's height — he still stood nearly a head taller than Cassie herself. He would have his thumbs hooked into his gun belt, and the star on his placket-front shirt would be shined to a gleam.

When the three councilmen — her father, also the town's doctor; Ben's father, the newly retired sheriff; and Hobny Jones, Cactus Creek's only attorney — finished dealing with preliminary business, a ripple went through the crowd. Who would be chosen this year?

"Because interest in the Cactus Creek Challenge has grown so much, the council has decided to increase the number of contestants from two to four. We've extended the Challenge this year to include women, and we will choose two women and two men to compete." Cassie's father adjusted his necktie. "We took the names of all those who signed up and put them in these punch bowls. Men's in this one, and women's in this one."

Mrs. Pym, across the aisle from Cassie, sighed and dabbed her upper lip with a lace hankie. "I do hope they're careful. Those were my grandmother's, the only matched set of punch bowls in this part of the state."

Cassie hid a smile. The punch bowls made an appearance at nearly every town function, and each time, Mrs. Pym said the same thing. Everybody in town knew the history of those crystal bowls. They'd traveled all the way across the country and had survived a stagecoach robbery. Mrs. Pym had dined out on that story for two decades.

"Who do you think it will be?" Jenny removed her lace shawl, laid it across her lap, and straightened her cuffs. She wore a pale blue satin dress and, as always, was one of the most stylish women in town. Perfect golden curls piled high on the back of her head, and her summer-sky-blue eyes studied everything carefully. She had a guarded tenseness about her mouth that rarely relented, as if she feared something but was determined not to give in to the fear.

Cassie quit biting her lower lip. "We'll know soon." Her glance flicked to Ben's face, then away. He was smiling, and even though it wasn't directed toward her, his grin had a way of making her stomach feel swoopy and her chest hollow.

Jenny adjusted the strings on her bag. "I can't believe I'm doing this."

"I thought you agreed that it would be a good way to feel part of the community and make a place for yourself in the town."

Her mouth twisted in a rueful smile. "In a moment of weakness, I might've said something like that. But at this moment, I'm wishing I could snatch my name out of that bowl and go hide in my kitchen."

Cassie knew how she felt. And yet, just as this was a chance for Jenny to meet new people and become known in the town, so it was for Cassie, too. She'd grown up in Cactus Creek, but so many people — she glanced once more at Ben Wilder — still thought of her as a child, the youngest of the Bucknell girls, the mayor's daughter.

But she wasn't just the mayor's daughter, or the kid sister of Louise and Millie, or even the little hoyden she had been. She was a grown woman, properly educated and trained at one of the finest normal schools in the country. She had a teaching certificate, charge of a dozen children each day, and the trust of the superintendent of schools. She was a grown-up, and it was high time people realized it. Her hands fisted and she raised her chin.

"Our first contestant is ..." Her father paused for dramatic effect, riffling his fingers through the slips in the bowl labeled Men. "Carl Gustafson."

Carl grinned, and Ben slapped him on the shoulder. So the livery stable would be one of the locations. Ben's father, Obadiah Wilder, wrote Carl's name on the blackboard.

"Our other male contestant will be" — once more fingers dug into the bowl and removed a name — "our new sheriff, Ben Wilder."

Applause broke out, and Carl elbowed Ben, pointing to his badge and making a "hand it over" gesture. Several folks cheered when Ben waved.

His dimples made Cassie's heart start bumping again.

"And now for the ladies' names."

There weren't nearly as many ladies who had signed up. After all, most women worked in their homes, and the Challenge winner would be difficult to choose under those circumstances.

"Mrs. Jenny Hart."

Cassie reached out and clasped Jenny's hands in her lap. "Congratulations."

A polite round of applause swept through the room, not nearly as raucous as that given to the men.

Jenny's face froze in a tight smile, and her face paled until Cassie worried her friend might faint.

"Well, look here, my own daughter, Miss Cassie Bucknell." Her father beamed. "Our schoolteacher."

Cassie's mind spun, and her hands went clammy. For a moment, she knew just how Jenny must be feeling. She'd been chosen. Relief and anxiety clashed inside her. She forced her muscles to relax and her lungs to exhale. More applause, then the room quieted.

"I maintain it isn't proper for women to be included in the Challenge." Mrs. Pym's whisper pierced the brief silence. Several glares turned her way, and she harrumphed. "Still, I suppose it's for a good cause."

Cassie's cheeks heated, but she tried to ignore Mrs. Pym and not let anything dampen her pleasure. Attorney Jones wrote her name up on the board. Right next to Ben's. Silly that seeing them up there together should give her a thrill.

"Now, I believe we should let folks know the causes we'll be trying to raise money for and remind folks how the Challenge works." Her father rested his hands on the back of the chair. "Each of our contestants will be swapping jobs for one month with a fellow contestant. They will be responsible for the running of the business or holding of office of the other, and we, as the town, will be the judges of who does the best job."

Hobny Jones set two glass candy jars from the mercantile on the desk. One bore a white label that said BOOKS in black letters, and the other had a green label that said PUMP.

"Cassie and Mrs. Hart will be raising money for new textbooks for the school and new hymnals for the church." Hobny's voice squeaked, as if his vocal chords needed oiled.

She wished he wouldn't call her Cassie in front of the town. It should be Miss Bucknell, as befitted her station as schoolteacher. The scant shelf of schoolbooks beside her teacher's desk drew her attention. They were mostly tattered, old, and in some cases written in German or French or Norwegian. Most of her students were using books passed down to them from their parents. If the school could provide at least a couple of sets of McGuffey Readers, some history, spelling, and arithmetic books, how much easier would it be for her to teach and for the children to learn? With more families moving into the area each term, the problem of not enough schoolbooks would only worsen. She resolved to do her best to run Jenny's bakery well and win the Challenge, not just for herself, but for her students.

"If one of the ladies wins the competition" — her father lifted the jar — "all the money raised will be split between new textbooks for the school and the purchase of hymnals for the church. I, for one, will be rooting for the ladies, not just because one of them is my daughter. Hymnbooks on Sunday would go a long way toward smoothing out the bumps in our congregational singing."

Laughter rippled through the room.

"Now, if one of the men wins" — he picked up the other jar — "all the money raised will go toward the installation of a new town pump and horse trough on Main Street. I'm sure you can all agree that hauling water from the creek is adequate, but a town pump would be a big improvement. Let's have the contestants come forward."

Cassie found herself standing between Jenny and Ben on the platform. She was used to standing in front with many pairs of eyes looking at her, but this time was very different. She wasn't in charge, and the people watching her now would vote on how well she completed the Challenge.

Her mind clicked and hummed, formulating plans for how she would run the bakery for the month. Though she was adequate in the kitchen, thanks to her mother's training, she hadn't done much baking beyond bread and cookies, nothing like the fancy cakes and pastries Jenny turned out that had been such a hit with her customers.

Jenny would be as good a teacher as she was a mother. Sweet Amanda Hart, Cassie's youngest pupil, was the spitting image of her mama, shy and withdrawn. She touched a tender place in Cassie's heart. Cassie could rest assured her students were in capable hands. Things couldn't have worked out better.

April is going to be a wonderful month. This Challenge will be long remembered as the best one the town ever had.

Her father turned the glass jars so the labels faced the assembly. "Now, these jars will be placed in Mr. Svenson's mercantile, right on the front counter opposite the post office boxes. It's up to you, the townspeople, to observe how our contestants are faring, how well they're doing another person's job, and vote by donating money to the cause and the contestants you want to support. Each Saturday afternoon, the contestants will be available at the mercantile to answer questions and campaign for their cause." He circled round to the front of the desk and perched his hip on the corner.

"As an added bonus, my son-in-law, Donald Penn, will be putting up the grand prize of one hundred dollars to the winning cause." He motioned to where Donald stood in the back.

Donald raised his hand, though Cassie imagined everyone in the room knew him. As the only son of the wealthiest rancher in the Texas Panhandle, Donald could well afford the one hundred dollars. His wife, Cassie's oldest sister, Louise, threaded her arm through his and squeezed, laying her auburn head against his shoulder briefly. He patted her hand, and jealousy shot through Cassie. Not that she begrudged her sister her happiness with Donald or wanted Donald for herself. It was just that she longed for that closeness, to matter to and belong to someone.

But not just any someone.

For her, it had always been and always would be Ben Wilder.

Not that he saw her that way. No, he still treated her like a child to be humored, patted on the head, and sent on her way. The big lunkhead.

Still, once she'd successfully run the bakery for a month and campaigned for her cause, surely then he would finally notice she was all grown up. Winning the Cactus Creek Challenge would be a feather in her cap.

Competing in the Challenge alongside Ben had to be some kind of a sign, right? An indication that Ben was God's will for her life? She'd been sure of it for so long. If only it wasn't taking Ben such a long time to realize they belonged together.

"Before you all leave ..." Her father raised his voice above the folks who had begun talking and making motions to leave. "I have one more announcement."

Everyone stilled.

"In order to keep the Challenge from growing stale, the council has decided to add one more twist this year."

Cassie's senses sharpened. She knew that tone. It flowed straight from the fun-loving reservoir deep in her father's personality, the one that few people suspected until the joke was played on them.

"In order to liven things up and keep everyone on their toes, Ben and Carl, you will be trading jobs with the women. Mr. Gustafson, you'll be trading places with Mrs. Hart and will run the bakery for the month, and Ben, you'll be teaching school in Cassie's place."

A hundred words crammed into her throat and lodged there, and she knew her jaw had dropped open, leaving her gaping like a bullhead. Finally, something squeaked out. "We're doing what?"

She couldn't miss the mischievous glint in her father's eye or the suspicious twitch to his white moustache. "That's right. Carl, you'll be baking dainty treats. Ben, you'll be instilling knowledge in our youngest citizens. Mrs. Hart, you'll be in charge of the livery animals and equipment, and you, Cassie, are tasked with the safety of the community."

Folks broke into conversation, but all she could see was the shocked expression on Ben's face and the way his hand went to the star on his chest. His eyes locked with hers, something that normally sent her senses spinning. This time, though, the shocked and stubborn gleam she saw there got her hackles up. Didn't he think she could do his job?

Then again, could he do hers?

She took it back.

April was going to be the longest month of her life.

* * *

Though he'd tried to hide it, Ben hadn't been thrilled when his name was chosen. After all, he'd been waiting what seemed his entire life to land the job of sheriff. Now he was expected to give it up for four weeks? His father had needled him into throwing his name into the hat — punch bowl — saying it was his civic duty, people needed to see him taking part in community activities, and a half a dozen other reasons, all of which seemed plumb puny now.

Swapping places with Carl wouldn't have been too bad. The big livery stable owner was more than capable of keeping order in the town for a month.

But swapping with a girl? And not just any girl, but Cassie Bucknell, the fire-headed tomboy who had always been more trouble than a wagonload of barbed wire?

The minute this crowd cleared out, he was going to state his protests and withdraw his name.

Carl crossed his arms over his burly chest, his lips a thin line that disappeared between his bushy moustache and beard. "This is ridiculous. What are they thinking?" he muttered.

They had to wait quite awhile for the crowd to thin, what with all the talking and teasing and laughing they had to endure.

"Never thought I'd see you in an apron with flour on your hands, Carl," one man joshed.

"Sheriff, you might want to bring your handcuffs and leg irons to the school. I've heard some of those little boys can be a might rowdy," another joked.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Cactus Creek Challenge by Erica Vetsch. Copyright © 2015 Erica Vetsch. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves books and history, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, an avid museum patron, and wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul mate. Erica loves to hear from readers. You can sign up for her quarterly newsletter at www.ericavetsch.com
And you can email her at ericavetsch@gmail.com or contact her on her author Facebook page.
 

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The Cactus Creek Challenge 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. It started out a little awkward--the Cactus Creek Challenge wasn't explained very well at first. And it felt like there was something missing--like background info on other minor characters. It was like the author expected the reader to knpw these characters or something. Was there earlier books in thos series? I don't know. But what I do know is that this story was entertaining. Their experiences were so funny. And I enjoyed the adventure and romance. What a neat idea--having a few chosen people walk in another person's shoes, so to speak. They learned a lot about themselves and find that a job that might have seemed really easy, was far more complicated than they realized. It gave them more respect for the others. It was a good story. I hope the author will continue writing about the folks in Cactus Creek.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story, didnt want to put book down.
J_Augustine More than 1 year ago
Rip-roaring fun in the Old West! The Cactus Creek Challenge was such a fun and funny read! Two men and two women vie for the prize of money towards their favorite causes. By the end of the month these four people will learn a great deal about each other and about themselves. The real question is will the town of Cactus Creek still be standing at the end of the month? Erica Vetsch delivers a most delightful western filled with comedy, romance, and danger. I've been a fan of hers since A Bride Sews With Love In Needles, California was the very first book review I'd done. And The Cactus Creek Challenge only cemented it. I enjoyed every bit of the story. From the comedy, including two holy terrors in the classroom, to the romance that slowly developed between the two couples competing, and the danger surrounding an extended stay in the jail and a missing child. A well-written story with engaging characters and a great storyline. Each of the citizens of Cactus Creek are real cards, quirky, and even a little crazy. Erica Vetsch delivers a fun and funny tale that is sure to thrill her fans. The snappy cover matches the story very well, pulling you right in. Sparks fly and guns blaze in this exciting tale of love and mayhem! You won't want to miss The Cactus Creek Challenge by Erica Vetsch. (I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.)
HelenM0 More than 1 year ago
Every year the town of Castle Creek Texas has a Challenge to raise money. In the past only men took part in the Challenge but this year women were invited to participate. Two men and two women would be picked to swap jobs for a month and at the end of the month the community would vote to see who did the best job and that person would be able to decide what the funds would be used for. This year the people chosen were, Carl Gustafson, the livery owner, Ben Wilder, the sheriff, Jenny Hart, the new owner of the town bakery and Cassie Bucknell, the town's school teacher. The contestants thought the men would be changing jobs and the ladies changing jobs but the council had other plans. Carl would be the baker, while Jenny ran his livery. Ben would be the school teacher and Cassie the sheriff. The story has a lot of twists with unexpected things happening for each of the contestants. Carl does not know how to bake anything but biscuits, Jenny is small and not strong enough to do the job easily, Ben does not stick to the teaching schedule and Cassie is faced with a gold shipment and someone trying to steal it. I really like this story. There was a lot of action taking place to keep my interest. And as expected a little romance was blossoming as well. I was gifted this book from Barbour Publishing but was not required to write a review. I liked the book so much that I decided to write a review to let other know how good it is.
JesusLoverSS More than 1 year ago
Want to laugh a lot? Love romance? Read The Cactus Creek Challenge by Erica Vetsch. Sheriff Ben and Schoolmarm Cassie trade jobs for a month for the town's annual Cactus Creek Challenge, while livery owner Carl and bakery owner Jenny swap roles. Ben and Cassie both crave respect. Carl and Jenny both think they don't want to give love another chance. Will the men and women learn to appreciate each other more and fall in love as they must depend on each other to fulfill their temporary roles? Find out in this hilarious book!
BookReviewerNicole More than 1 year ago
_________________________________________ *My Thoughts* Oh my word! I LOVED this book!! And the more I say that, the more I love it. It is my absolute favorite western now! I ALMOST stumbled upon this book by accident. I actually was in NetGalley Heaven and requested "The Convenient Brides Collection". As I was reading it, I stumbled across a Novella that I thoroughly enjoyed by Erica Vetsch. I loved her so I searched for her books and found this one and one other story in my possession! Yay! I wasn't sure what to expect when I read the name. It certainly is not your typical romance title. Actually, not much about the book was typical either. It was amazing! Contrary to what the back cover might say, this is two stories in one! I really loved the characters. Cassie's personality was fantastic-and her situation was really tough. I think just about every girl has maybe gone through her exact situation. "Unrequited love". A really tough thing and yet, this cowgirl could overcome just about anything-with a little humor too! Ben...was a little more confused. Throughout the whole story, I was wondering what was going to happen next. It was absolutely nerve-wracking at points.And yet,when I stepped through the bakery door I was laughing so hard I relaxed, if that makes sense. Carl and Jenny's impending relationship-or non-relationship, was much more free flowing and I never knew what would happen. The humor in this book was not forced at all. You might think that comedy, westerns, and romance are three different subject. In this book, it's like a rough cut diamond-so many beautiful sides! I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed this book and don't think anything can make it better! _______________________________________ *My overall thoughts* The Cactus Creek Challenge by Erica Vetsch is the book that has changed my mind about westerns. Apparently, I love them! This one is packed with humor, love, and enough cowboys to make Mary Connealy proud. __________________________________________ *My Rating* I give The Cactus Creek Challenge by Erica Vetsch... 5 stars!! *I received this book from the Netgalley, publisher, and the author in exchange for an honest review, which I have given. All thoughts were my own and I was not compensated in any other way. http://bookreviewsforchristians.blogspot.com/2015/07/shiloh-run-review-cactus-creek.html
Britney_Adams More than 1 year ago
Humor and hijinks abound in The Cactus Creek Challenge, as does romance! Erica Vetsch writes with a great voice for western fiction, and I was delighted by her imagery, details, and dialogue. I really enjoyed the unique story line and loved the challenge participants and their spirited determination to tackle the jobs they were given. I also enjoyed the other colorful residents of Cactus Creek and would love to revisit this Texas town. The Cactus Creek Challenge is an entertaining tale that is sure to tickle your funny bone! I received a complimentary copy of The Cactus Creek Challenge in exchange for an unbiased review. I appreciate the opportunity to read this story and share my thoughts.
LucyMR1 More than 1 year ago
This is my first book by Erica Vetsch, but it leaves me wanting to read more of her work. I find the characters enjoyable to get to know and I love her descriptive way of telling the story. I found myself laughing out load and reading parts to my 85 year old mom I was visiting, who enjoyed laughing with me. It is witty, funny, and heart gripping. Even though Cassie and Ben are the main characters, I found myself identifying with Jenny and her story. Her daughter, Amanda was a delight to read about and watch her grow to love and trust again. Showing how faithful God is to heal our broken pieces if we are open. This is just an all around good read and I didn't want to put it down. I highly recommend it. I was given a copy for an honest review.
TheTeaCupLady More than 1 year ago
An absolutely delightful read! This book has it all: romance, adventure, lovable characters, and plenty of humor. I found myself laughing out loud with the pranks of the twin boys and also the predicaments in which several characters found themselves. I would highly recommend this book! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Nutz2read More than 1 year ago
The Cactus Creek Challenge surprised me in more ways than one. For some unknown reason, I was under the mistaken impression that it was a novella, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find a full length novel. This is actually the first book I’ve read by Erica Vetsch, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I can very happily say that I loved this book and will definitely be looking for more of her writing! When I first heard about this book, I was intrigued. It was a new premise, one that sounded like loads of fun and I was anxious to find out where Ms. Vetsch would take the story. It was definitely a wild ride! I had a blast following the characters through their days as they learned to work together and get all of their respective jobs done. I definitely laughed out loud several times and had to smile and shake my head at some of the situations the characters found themselves in. I loved the creativity, both in the premise itself and how the characters managed each task. Erica definitely does an excellent job with the descriptions and historical details. I was able to easily picture the town of Cactus Creek and I really enjoyed the little reminders she added here and there, that kept the scenes fresh in my mind. The story flows very smoothly and kept my attention from the first page to the last. I didn’t want to put it down and saw more than one late night, wanting to know what would happen next! My only negative comment for the entire story is that there were a couple words the author used a few times that didn’t really fit the story or were not used correctly for the sentence structure. Yes, I’m going to nitpick that, because grammar is important to me and I found it a little annoying. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story, just bugged me a bit when they would pop up. Another thing I immensely enjoyed was that the story came from the perspective of all of the contestants. I thought it was just Cassie and Ben’s book, but I was wrong. There is another layer to the story that I really loved. I adored all of the characters and getting to meet them. They are so realistic and I was able to relate with each of them. They all have something to work toward, something they are striving for. Amanda and all of the students were so cute and such a fun addition to the story! I loved how well drawn even the secondary characters were. Erica took the time to bring the whole town to life, not just the main characters and I really appreciated that. I really hope Erica sets another book in Cactus Creek so that I can visit again! I immensely enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction filled with humor, romance, and suspense. I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
The Cactus Creek Challenge is such a fun read. I thought this book was great. I found myself laughing throughout. It was funny, light, sweet and even had some action. I love Erica Vetsch's writing and this one is no exception. Great book! 5 stars.
LizD1 More than 1 year ago
Cactus Creek Challenge By: Erica Vetsch I absolutely loved this historical romance, Cactus Creek Challenge. I could hardly put it down from the time I started till I finished. I think i laughed most of the time while reading it. There was some times in the story that I was holding my breathe and saying NO. If you are looking for a good read with action filled, romance, and lots of laughter, then this book is for you. Erica Vetsch has penned her story and characters so real like , that you feel like you are right there in the middle of all them. I also really loved the children, they all played a big part in the story. Cassie has always loved Ben Wilder, who is the sheriff of Cactus creek, but he still thinks of Cassie as a fourteen year old tagalong. The Annual Challenge was decided that Callie , who is the schoolmarm would swap jobs with Ben the sheriff. Now Callie says that she can do Ben’s job just as good as he can. Can Ben do Callie’s job as a schoolteacher? Can they each hold out for one month? What could possibly go wrong in one month? Be sure and pick up you a copy of Cactus Creek Challenge , because you are in for an action filled month . I was given a copy of this book by the author for my honest review, which I have given.
GrandaddyA More than 1 year ago
The book opens with a meeting of the Cactus Creek town council. The year is 1888. As the meeting progressed, I started wondering where this was all heading. It took a very unusual but interesting twist. The town held an annual Cactus Creek Challenge in which two of the men in town switched jobs for a month and the contributions of the townspeople went to the special project championed by the winner. The council had decided to add two women in the Challenge this year. The men thought they would be swapping jobs with another man and the women thought the same way. The town council members had a different idea. They chose to really mix it up to make things more exciting. They had the sheriff and the school teacher to swap jobs and the livery man and the lady running the bakery swapped. What kind of town council would come up with that idea? Erica Vetsch has woven quite an interesting tale of how each contestant coped with the circumstances they encountered. And did they ever get into some difficult situations! At times, I was almost holding my breath trying to imagine how the latest scenario would play out. In this modern age, we have both sexes doing practically every job there is, but this took place in a very different era from our modern times. What a fun read! At times Erica has you sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what was coming and other times she almost has you laughing at some of the antics. When you toss in a dose of romance, it simply adds to the excitement. If you are looking for some light, enjoyable Christian fiction, I recommend the book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.