October continues to be a rather difficult month; no matter what part of the United States you live in, we’re all affected one way or another by our government behaving irresponsibly, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. So, what do romance readers do when life hands them one lemon after another? Why, we read! We can always find respite in the stories woven for us from the imaginations of great story tellers. Reading may not be as physical a response as squeezing lemons and boiling sugar syrup to make lemonade out of those lemons—but a great romance can sweep a reader away from harsh realities and bring a bit of peace when needed most.

Starting out with a sexy but humorous tale, Handcuffed in Housewares (Samhain, September 2013) will put a smile of your face…well, at least at the beginning. Nikki Duncan’s Tulle & Tulips series continues with the story of Burton Anderson, whose construction and remodeling business is on the cusp of taking off—until that Monday morning, after a date gone wonky leaves him naked and handcuffed in the local hardware store. It’s not exactly the introduction he was expecting to make with a new lady, but Leigh Schyuler comes to his rescue. The scene made me smile as I read it, not that I’d ever want to meet a naked guy at Home Depot, but there’s always the possibility I guess. Anyway, Leigh is usually a bit uptight and Burton’s had a few bad relationships in the past, so their relationship starts out rocky. If you like your romance a bit steamy, with a touch of handcuffs, be sure to check this one out. It’s available in all digital formats. And although it’s the third in the series, it’s not necessary to read the first two—but why miss the fun?

Speaking of reading in a series, Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane historicals, set in 1740s London in the St. Giles area (not the nicest part of town), continues with Duke of Midnight (Forever, October 2013). Although each of the books have their own, compHandcuffed in Housewareslete story, it is better to read them in order to get a sense of all the characters that pop up at the parties. And if you want some hot sensual scenes, Hoyt won’t disappoint you. The book opens with a new Ghost of St. Giles dropping from the sky to rescue the intrepid Miss Artemis Greaves, along with Lady Penelope, from assault in the filthy streets late at night. Duke of Midnight takes the reader from the homes of the rich to the filth and horror of Bedlam. It’s not a side of historical romances you get to see too often. Artemis quickly discerns that the “Ghost” is the Duke of Wakefield and the object of her cousin Lady Penelope’s pursuit. The story moves along quickly as they uncover the murderer who killed the Duke’s parents 20 years ago and rush to rescue Artemis’ brother, who’s locked in Bedlam. Set aside some time to enjoy your read—you’ll need it. 

If you’ve ever gone to Irish Days or Scotland Games, then you’ve probably enjoyed the food, drink and competitions. There’s nothing more entertaining than watching guys try to throw or heave great logs and act like Thor. Hanna Martine agrees and sets her contemporary romance Long Shot (Berkley Sensation, October 2013) in a small town in New Hampshire whose claim to fame is the yearly Highland Games. The source of most of the town’s summer income in one way or another, the annual games are in trouble. Jen Haverhurst left Gleann, N.H., years before and is almost a partner in a top event-planning firm in New York City when her family begs her to return to help keep the games running and their B&B in business. Jen reluctantly returns to find not only lots of work ahead of her but also an old fling. Leith MacDougall is a local legend, winning three Highland games. But he’s ready to retire and go take up his dream. Outside of town. Long Shot combines the fun and excitement of a rekindled romance with behind-the-scenes glimpses of putting on Highland Games. Pick up the book and I bet you’ll find the next guy you see in a kilt a bit more intriguing.

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Vampire stories never seem to lose their popularity, but if you’re looking for something a bit different, try Dianne Duvall’s Darkness Rises (Zebra, October 2013). Returning to her world of Immortal Guardians, Duvall introduces readers to Krysta. A hunter of vampires, Krysta may look helpless and pretty but she’s deadly with her shoto swords. One night, one of the blood suckers she fights instead comes to her rescue and he’s not that bad. He’s handsome, mysterious and a vampire. Oh, well. Some sexual tension never hurts, right? But when they need to combine forces to defeat a common enemy, the stakes are raised.

We’d love to have you join us in Dallas for our upcoming Readers & ’Ritas Weekend. We’ll have 40 authors and a hotel full of fun. You can find more information at Readers-n-ritas.org. We can sit and talk about romance books; it’s always a great way to spend time. And perhaps enjoy a margarita or two?

Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.