Cover Image: Cactus Jack

Cactus Jack

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

If you like horses, you’ll like this novel. Its about the horse born of the greatest horse in the world and the people connected with this horse. They are a mismatched, but interesting group. Fast-paced and plenty of drama will make this a good book to read.
Was this review helpful?
Brad Smith's Cactus Jack is an atmospheric tale of a woman and a horse. This is a book for those who root for the underdog. When Billie returns home to Kentucky for her father's funeral, she inherits his estate - and his debts. I ultimately fell for the ensemble of characters in this book. 

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.
Was this review helpful?
This thoroughly delightful book tells the story of a young woman who has not lived up to her potential. She inherits her father's farm along with a young thortoughbred colt after her father's sudden death. Along with the farm comes a mountain of debt.

Is the colt the key to saving something she isn't sure se wants?

With engaging characters and a good plot, the book is a joy to read.
Was this review helpful?
A great read from beginning to end. At times funny and a little crazy it's an engaging read from beginning to end. Pick up this delightful book and prepare to be entertained.. Happy reading!
Was this review helpful?
Billie Masterson is a down on her luck waitress with a drop kick boyfriend, when she learns of the death of her estranged father. Inheriting his run down Kentucky horse farm, and the debts with it, Billie's first instinct is to sell everything. When billionaire businessman Reese Ryker offers her a good price she almost takes it, then she learns of Ryker's obsession with her father's unraced colt, Cactus Jack.

So Billie and her horse, along with a cast of odd bods, take on the establishment, with no money and very little hope. Will Cactus Jack rise to the occasion? Or will Ryker get his way and claim the horse? With everything against them our crew are determined to rise to the top.

I found Cactus Jack to be a classic rags to riches horse racing novel. It is enjoyable enough, even if some of the scenarios seem implausible, and most of the characters cliched. I found it to be easy and quick to read, and did find myself invested in Cactus Jack and his racing career. Lovers of horses and sports will enjoy this book.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Billie reluctantly goes home to Kentucky when her father dies and discovers she's inherited his farm, his horses, and a huge pile of debt.  One of those horses, Cactus Jack, has a bloodline that could make him a real contender but ....She's also sort of inherited Jodie, a 10 year old who "boards" her donkey, pony, and goat on the farm.  Billie's a cactus herself- she's prickly, she drinks too much, and she makes bad decisions about men.  She's also smart and when she gets it in her mind to beat Reese Ryker, well, she works hard.  This is horse racing at its most basic level.  The characters are wonderful (the Mountain is the attorney I want), the atmospherics terrific, and Smith managed to rope me in to root for everyone (but Ryker).  This one has a huge heart under the grit and dirt.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.  I really enjoyed and highly recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
Slogging through advance readers copies can turn into a real chore, but Cactus Jack was a delightful surprise. Author Brad Smith, according to the Publisher's Weekly blurb, "rivals Elmore Leonard at his best." They do have qualities in common: gritty dialogue and down-at-the-heels characters with good minds and bad judgment.

This is the first of Smith's novels that I've read, but I felt as if I were indeed in Elmore Leonard territory, or that of two other current Leonard heirs, Willy Vlautin and Bart Paul. This is just a clean, spare tale of people struggling to get by -- but is is rife with class distinctions and applied morality.

When we meet the two leading characters, Billie and, later, Luke, their lives don't offer much promise. You could predict a steady downhill slide for each of them. But Smith lets them grow and develop and come to terms with their pasts, around the almost-incidental story of an unlikely champion horse.

Can you tell I loved it? Thanks to NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing for an ARC.

BTW, now I'm going back (as I did with Leonard and Vlautin and Paul) and read everything Brad Smith has written.
Was this review helpful?
To me this book was a very pleasant surprise. The plot was well structured and believable, there was a lot of character building (especially when it came to Billie and Luke) and the ending was very satisfying. It was also refreshing how Billie managed to solve her problems without falling in love with a man who had to come to her rescue, but also without turning her into some superwoman who didn’t need anyone. I highly recommend this book!
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cactus Jack was a little rough around the edges and it took me a few chapters before I felt fully committed to its tale. When Billie Masterson receives word that her father, Will has died, she makes the reluctant journey back to the family farm in Kentucky. Billie arrives with old hostilities and a desire to get rid of her father's property. However, some of her father's friends including his girlfriend Marian, his lawyer, Clay, a horse named Cactus Jack, and a ten-year-old girl named Jodie are about to teach Billie a few life lessons.

As I read, I really grew to love the prickly Billie and the character of Marian has to be one of my favorite supporting characters of 2020. Above all, this was a solid contemporary novel that didn't have the female protagonist falling head over heels and being saved by romance. Certainly, the first book in which I have read about horse racing! I would definitely recommend this book to my fellow readers.

Goodreads review published 20/05/20
Expected Publication Date 16/06/20
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the author, Skyhorse Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

This feel-good, come-from-behind underdog story was a fascinating look into the world of B-racing - I am a diehard Dick Francis fan, but this is another thing completely. The characters were well-written and I found myself strangely invested. This was a very satisfying read, although it did end a bit abruptly - I could have easily read another 100 pages of this story, which was told so well.
Was this review helpful?
I received this from for a review.

"Billie Masterson is a thirty-something chronic underachiever, drowning herself in alcohol and bad relationships in Ohio. Billie returns to rural Kentucky for the funeral for her father's funeral and learns he left her his horse racing business. "

Quick rainy day read, not a lot of depth.

Was this review helpful?
This was an enjoyable read and I hope it is the beginning of a new series as it would be good to read how the group progress.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing / Arcade for this arc.

I found this to be a real "feel good" read.  Not sure how to "shelve" it...  family drama?  underdog story?  redemption story?  or just coming of age??    Whatever, I found it to be a compelling read with mostly engaging and well-developed characters.   There was enough detail about horseracing that the plot felt "true", but not so much as to overwhelm the story.  Overall, a very satisfying read (especially the corvette).

4.5 stars
Was this review helpful?
Cactus Jack is a great name for a horse! This story takes place after Billie inherits her Dad’s farm and prize colt. It gives a glimpse into small track racing. I liked Billie and how she changed . I think the book ended too quick, I wanted a bit more.  Horse lovers will definitely like this book. Thanks to Netgalley for the early copy
Was this review helpful?
Cactus Jack is a solid, well structured contemporary novel. It is a great decription of the real side of B level racing.  I liked the fact that Billie was a strong independent woman and did not solve her problem by falling in love. Through the novel she stood on her own two feet, made the hard decision and was a true heroine. The ending was good (and well done as well), light and bright.
Was this review helpful?
I loved Billie's story. The characters in this book are real and interesting. The plot was intriguing. Can’t wait to share it with  readers who love to seethe good guy win!
Was this review helpful?