Title: The Cactus Creek Challenge
Author: Erica Vetsch
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
My rating is 5 stars.
This story is set in 1888 in the small town of Cactus Creek, Texas. The four main characters are Ben Wilder, the town’s sheriff; Jenny Hart, bakery owner and operator; Carl Gustafson, livery owner and operator and Cassie Bucknell, schoolteacher. There are some other characters in the story that are used to flesh out the plot as well. Ben has always thought of Cassie as a little sister, but she has been in love with him for years. Will he ever see her as more than a little girl? Jenny is a widow of an abusive husband and has come to town to escape the rest of his family. Carl is a widower. Both have declared they will never marry again. Will Jenny let her fear rule her life forever?
Each year the town of Cactus Creek has held a challenge for the local men to participate in that would raise funds for a particular town projects. The winner of the challenge is voted on and the proceeds go to the winner’s particular project. This year, however, the contest has changed. Women are allowed to enter for the first time. Cassie has entered and convinced her friend Jenny to do the same. The four names of the main characters are drawn from several entries. After their names are announced, a new twist also is uncovered. Each contestant has to switch places for one month with another. So Cassie will now be acting sheriff and Ben will be teaching school. Jenny will be running the livery while Carl takes care of the bakery. Let the humor begin!
In addition to the everyday challenges that are encountered by each contestant, a large shipment of gold is due in town while Cassie is in charge. Ben thinks that since everyone in town and the surrounding area knows Cassie is the sheriff, someone might think this was a good time to steal the gold. Cassie is determined to finish out her month as sheriff and puts a plan together to protect the gold, but as we all know things don’t always go according to plan.
I loved this book from cover to cover! There were some truly funny moments, especially involving the 9-year-old twin boys and their antics. There were also some funny scenes involving each of the four main characters as they had to change places with another during the Challenge. The sparks that flew between Cassie and Ben were palpable. Jenny and Carl’s romance was not quite as volatile, but still emerged sweetly and quickly. This was my first time reading this author and it certainly won’t be the last! Please pick up a copy of this historical western romance with humor and some suspense; you won’t be disappointed!