Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Review: The Cactus Creek Challenge

"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.

About 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
And you can email her at or contact her on her author Facebook page.

My Review: 4.5 stars
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.

There is definitely romance in this book and I enjoyed watching the thick-headed men (and sometimes women) slowly come to the realization that maybe there was something more for them than just the course they had chosen for themselves. It was fun and quirky, while at the same time being really sweet and endearing. Following each of the characters on their journey definitely had me rethinking a few things and I appreciated the reminder that despite our best laid plans, sometimes God throws a wrench into the works to make us look up and notice what He has waiting for us.

Speaking of God, this book actually doesn’t do much of that. It is definitely Christian, but there isn’t a lot of preaching, or even talking about Him. Instead, it shows us and leads us to the suggestion of His hand in all of it, but rarely comes right out and says it. I would easily be able to recommend this book to my non-Christian friends without having to worry about them complaining or becoming offended.

I could probably talk about this book for another few paragraphs, but no one particularly wants to read that, so I’ll stop here. My last comment is 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.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it!  Obviously, I really liked this book, so I hope you'll check it out!  You won't be disappointed!  :)


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  1. Sarah, you make me want to read this book, which is exactly what reviews should do - unless a book is really bad, that is! Would love to try Erica's writing soon.

    Are you having a good summer? I'm currently reading a book for review that I'm not crazy about. Nothing I can really put my finger on - the writing's pretty good and the historical elements are interesting, but I'm not liking the main characters very much. Guess that's it!

    1. Hi Carole!
      Yes, I'm having a fairly good summer. I'm starting a new job soon, so that'll be interesting. How's yours?
      I'm actually reading a book like that, as well. Though I'm not sure my problem is the characters. I can't seem to get into it and the story just isn't keeping my attention. It reminds me of a series by another author, who's books I adore, so that comparison isn't helping, either.