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Friday’s Fiction

Cactus Creek Challenge

The Cactus Creek Challenge by Erica Vetsch

About the Book

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.

My Thoughts

The Cactus Creek Challenge has a charming and enchanting premise.  Every year in Cactus Creek, Texas, two people swap jobs for a month, but this year there is a new twist. Instead of only two people, there will be four, and women can enter the challenge, too. The townspeople (and the contestants’ families) are initially outraged and/or upset when they realize just what the winners must do. Cassie Bucknell, a schoolteacher, must swap jobs with Ben Wilder, her secret love and sheriff of the town. The other two contestants are Jenny Hart, the town baker, and Carl Gustafson, the town’s livery owner.

Ben’s sure he can wrangle a few schoolchildren.  After all, how much trouble can they get into? However, he’s not sure, nor is he happy, that Cassie can run the job of sheriff.

Erica Vetsch does an incredible job of showing the “challenges” each contestant faces, from Ben’s too cocky attitude toward the woman’s “easy” job of teaching to Carl’s bewilderment at the complexities of baking anything besides biscuits. There are many funny laugh out loud moments. All the same, Ms. Vetsch also shows how each character grows and comes to appreciate the other contestants’ unique skills.

For information about Erica Vetsch, you can visit her at:

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday’s Tale

A House Divided

A House Divided by Robert Whitlow is a legal thriller along the lines of John Grisham.

About the Book

Corbin, a longtime legal champion for the downtrodden, is slowly drinking himself into the grave. His love for “mountain water” has cost him his marriage to the godliest woman he knows, ruined his relationship with his daughter, Roxy, and reduced the business at his small Georgia law firm to a level where he can barely keep the bill collectors at bay. But it isn’t until his son, Ray, threatens to limit Corbin’s time with his grandson that Corbin begins to acknowledge he might have a problem.

Despite the mess that surrounds his personal life and against the advice of everyone he knows, Corbin takes on a high-stakes tort case on behalf of two boys who have contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma due to an alleged chemical exposure. The defendant, a fertilizer company, is the largest employer in the area. The lawsuit becomes a tornado that sucks Corbin, Ray, and Roxy into an increasingly deadly vortex. Equally intense pressure within the family threatens to destroy, once and for all, the thin threads that connect them.

Corbin must find the strength to stand up to his personal demons. Justice for two dying boys depends on it . . . his family depends on it.

“Fans of John Grisham will find much to like here.”

—Library Journal of The Confession

My Thoughts

Corbin Gage, a lawyer, has become the laughing stock of the small Georgia town of Alto, where he practices. His secretary is running his law firm and the firm is running on fumes.

Drinking estranged him from his wife. It also alienated him from his son, Ray and his daughter, Roxy and now his son is threatening not to let him see his grandson.

One day Branson Kilpatrick, a friend of Corbin’s, comes into his office with a problem. His grandson is suffering from cancer. Corbin knows of other children that have cancer, too. Despite everyone’s advice, especially his children’s, Corbin decides to take on a fertilizer company. The company also happens to be the largest employer in Alto.

Robert Whitlow has written another winning story of our justice system. Integrating the story of a small town lawyer, who also happens to be the town drunk, Whitlow takes a scoundrel and turns him into a hero.

For information about Robert Whitlow, you can visit him at:

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday’s Memory Moment

My Dad would have been 85 today! Hard to believe, even harder to believe he passed away 18 months ago.

I’m so thankful neither he nor Mom were here when my baby brother passed away in July. It brings me such comfort to know that they are all rejoicing in heaven, along with my baby sister, and all the other relatives that went on before them.

I miss him.



Monday’s Mention

Finding our way home

Finding Our Way Home by Charlene Baumbich is a nice book to read, with one caveat.  I would classify this book as wholesome rather than Christian fiction.

The characters are very relatable and human. I especially enjoyed Evelyn. I would love to have a friend like her. Evelyn is very outspoken and a little pushy, but she does it with love and concern-not in a mean spirited or hateful way.

Sasha, the main character, has her ballet career cut short by a fall causing too many injuries to be able to return to ballet. The book follows her struggles with therapy, a marriage she ran away from and her equally head strong assistant, Evelyn.

The seeming “magical” quality of the snow globe disturbed me, and the fact that there was very little of a “Christian” nature in this book.  I’ve always felt a Christian book should have a clear message of salvation, bible verses or at the very least people that go to church. Having said that, I believe you will enjoy this book very much if you can overlook its magical elements. Perhaps this book is better suited to the more mature Christian and not a new believer.

I got into a lively discussion with another book lover as to whether the book was actually Christian fiction. Some of the questions floated were:

1) If the book were set in another country, like Saudi Arabia, would it be termed “Muslim fiction”?

2) Do Christian books have to have Bible verses or a plan of salvation? (As this book has neither),

3) Are the minor glimpses into Sasha’s marriage, especially the bedroom scenes, a mildly risqué part of the book, too much for Christian fiction?

I did enjoy the book, and as you can see, it opened the way for quite a debate!  The characters came alive and you felt empathy for them.  The story reads as true to life. I would hesitate, however, in recommending it for everyone, young people in particular.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

(This is a revised, reprint from an earlier review.)