Title: Buck Up, Buttercup
Author: Anna Alkire
Published: June 2022
Genres: Comedy, Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
All’s fair in love and war.
With Randi and Buck, it’s hard to tell the two apart…
An uptight, self-contained college girl, Randi Becker just needed one thing: a room. Somewhere she could study, and keep away from the things that most confuse and frighten her: people.
Unfortunately, the “nice quiet place” she reserved turns out to be a room in the campus’ most raucous house. A place seemingly designed to make studying impossible, made even worse by the other girls’ non-stop drama.
But then Buck, a fun-loving cowboy whom all the ladies love, shows up…and everything gets much worse.
Buck seems to have it all: friends, fun, and a never-ending line of admirers. But what he most desires is a break. So when Buck spots Randi, he figures she’s a perfect decoy: he can play up a “crush” on her that will take him off the market; buy him some breathing room. And if he can tease her a bit, and get under the skin of the uptight busybody? Well, that’s just gravy.
But Buck is about to find more than he bargained for. Randi’s strong-willed, opinionated, difficult—and maybe just what he needs. And Buck isn’t alone. Soon Randi wonders as well…if the world she wanted is really the world she needs. If her future is nothing more than a diploma on the wall. And if the most important thing in her world isn’t a grade, but the cowboy who’s planted his boots firmly in her heart.
Fans of Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare and Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game will delight at this mix of romantic comedy, contemporary romance, and cultures colliding in a campus town with a western flair. Grab your copy today, and fall in love with Buck Up, Buttercup!
The cab driver obviously smoked cigarettes and didn’t use his air conditioner. Or deodorant. Randi pulled off her thin cardigan in the stuffy backseat. It still felt like mid-summer down here, even with October twelve days away.
She would finish her degree and get out. Done is better than perfect, she told herself for the hundredth time. Companies hiring for business, marketing, and graphic design (her combined major) wanted graduates, not perfect grades. A good thing because she’d be lucky to pass everything.
At last, the car turned onto a gravel road winding into an orchard. The cab’s high-beams lit up the bushy branches and thick gnarled trunks of hazelnut trees. She couldn’t wait to see it in daylight.
“Shit!” the driver yelled. He slammed on the brakes and the cab jerked to a stop, swirling dust up from the gravel road. Randi gasped. Someone ran right in front of the cab, pink, naked skin glowing in the headlights.
Male butt cheeks sprinted up the middle of the road blocking them from passing. Pale, hairy legs ended in cowboy boots. One of his hands was holding a cowboy hat on his head. He whooped and veered off into the orchard.
They sat in silence for a stunned moment. If that was somebody’s boyfriend, she would be moving out.
“Did a naked guy jump in front of the car?” Randi said, taking her glasses off to rub her eyes.
The cab driver grunted.
“Do you see that kind of thing often?”
“Hazing week,” he grumbled. “You want to keep going?”
She paused, her head a foggy cloud. What did he mean, keep going? Did he want her to
jump out and walk the rest of the way? Not with insane naked men running around. “Yes,” she said.
Belatedly, her brain caught up with the conversation—he’d meant he could turn the cab around with her in it. A lump the size of a fist lodged in her throat. Something was brewing up ahead and it wasn’t herbal tea before bedtime.
The cab rolled forward at a slower pace, veering around the largest potholes. Her clenching stomach churned with acid. She couldn’t think. They rounded a bend. Cars lined both sides of the road, wedged between the trees. Women came tumbling out of one of them—young, wearing cowboy hats, short shorts, and halter tops.
Randi’s mouth opened and closed. The cab kept going. Beer cans and red keg cups littered the gravel and the dirt shoulder. Noise was filtering in: shouts and high-pitched laughter. She realized the seat belt was clenched in both her fists. They drove out of the orchard. A sea of cars spread out in row after row on the grass in front of a farmhouse, like the parking lot of an outdoor concert.
People swarmed everywhere, blocking stairways, twenty deep around the sides of the house. A huge bonfire burned in front of a barn.
The driver turned off his radio. The overwhelming muddle of music, shouting, whooping, and a few hundred people talking at once brought reality crashing home. She sat suspended, unable to speak, chest heaving, panting in short gasps. Her sweating back could have been glued to the sticky leather seat.
“Hey, kiddo,” the driver said, “got a pickup in twenty minutes. You want a ride back into town?”
She stared at the house number. It was correct. Not to mention the old farmhouse matched the picture online. And so did the orchard. Over the summer, Trish had emailed her back promptly, answering all her questions. This was the house of “studious women serious about school.” When asked directly about parties, Trish had responded, “Little get-togethers— yes. Massive parties—absolutely not.”
Anger boiled up, burning away the paralyzing fear. She huffed in dawning realization. They’d taken her savings. Conned her. After working fourteen-hour days, seven days a week for three months in Buenos Aires, she’d spent everything to secure her spot living at this house. She would get her money back, tonight—first and last month’s rent, plus a deposit. Her stomach roiled.
“Meter’s running. What’s it going to be?”
Anna Alkire has been a long-term college student, a business owner, and a world traveler. Now “settled”—with a sigh and a cup of decaf—Anna lives in Washington state, where she splits her time between a husband who thinks the North Pole would be a great place to live, chasing her hurricane of a son, learning new handicrafts, and creating worlds full of the kind of romance and fun she most wants to read. Find more about her (and grab a freebie or two) at her website, annaalkire.com.
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