Hey guys! It’s Judith!

I know, I know – I so rarely have a chance to review but this week? I’m on vacation! Which means that instead of just eating and drinking and doing absolutely nothing but enjoy the hedonistic pleasures of the season, I’ve been reading! Lots and lots of books! ALL THE BOOKS!

A few were such standouts, I am coming out of vacation hibernation to urge you all to read them, because yes, they were just that good.

The Best Books I’ve Read Recently

The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish

Get it now: Amazon | Riptide Books | B&N 

About the book: Last month, Alex Barrow’s whole life imploded—partner, home, job, all gone in forty-eight hours. But sometimes when everything falls apart, better things appear almost like magic. Now, he’s back in his Michigan hometown, finally opening the bakery he’s always dreamed of. But the pleasure of opening day is nothing compared to the lonely and beautiful man who bewitches Alex before he even orders.

Corbin Wale is a weirdo. At least, that’s what he’s heard his whole life. He knows he’s often in a fantasy world, but the things he feels are very real. And so is the reason why he can never, ever be with Alex Barrow. Even if Alex is everything he’s always fantasized about. Even if maybe, just maybe, Corbin is Alex’s fantasy too.

When Corbin begins working at the bakery, he and Alex can’t deny their connection any longer. As the holiday season works its magic, Alex yearns for the man who seems out of reach. But to be with Alex, Corbin will have to challenge every truth he’s ever known. If his holiday risk pays off, two men from different worlds will get the love they’ve always longed for.

Why I think you should read it: Recently I was waxing poetic on Twitter about this book and one reader hit the nail on the head when she said:

This book is so dang good. It is all things happy and hopeful. It is low angst at its finest and this book will most definitely make you smile. It will also make you believe in the power of love and magic and ultimately, in new beginnings. Sounds too good to be true, I know, but author Roan Parrish is a deft hand at writing into existence a fully crafted world with characters that are likable, relatable, and so very human. She crafts characters you want good things to happen to and you will find yourself rooting for this pair from their very first meeting.

Corbin and Alex are two very different people with two very different sets of ideas about happiness. But something within each calls to the other and brings out the best in both men. Their friendship and resulting relationship are slow to start but it’s that slow give and take that makes the eventual fireworks between them so very satisfying.

The Return of the Earl by Sandra Schwab

Get it now: Amazon

About the book: On the continent they call him the Ice Prince, icy of manner, icy of heart. Now, after thirteen years of exile, Con returns home to England and to Harrowcot Hall, a place haunted by memories of a long-lost friendship and past betrayals, a place where all of his dreams shattered and died.

But the past is over and done with, and can no longer touch him — or so Con thinks. He certainly does not expect to come face to face with Bryn Ellison again, the man whom he once loved beyond everything and who repudiated their bond in the cruelest way imaginable.

As snow and frost close in on Harrowcot Hall, Con’s icy demeanour starts to melt while he grapples with old hurts and newly awakened passions. Will he give in to the lure of the past against his better judgement?

WARNING: This book contains a very grumpy earl, a dashing stablemaster, some ravishment in various places, several garden follies, a lot of snow, and a horse called Lancelot.

Why I think you should read it: Featuring a chilly Earl who returns from the Continent to face the ghosts of his past, this is the perfect novel to cozy up with this winter! The frosty demeanor of the Earl, the awful machinations of his long dead father, and the stark, barren English countryside all mask the underlying slow burn and heat still felt by the Earl and his former lover, the Stablemaster. When that heat finally overtakes the pair, their attraction sizzles on the page and their banter is not to be missed. Their relationship is one built on years of affection and the thirteen years lost between them are quickly made up for in a gratifying conclusion. This enemies-to-lovers novella will keep you well entertained on a cold Winter’s night.

Luchador by Erin Finnegan

Get it now: Amazon | Interlude Press

About the book: Each week, Gabriel Romero’s drive to Sunday mass takes him past ‘El Ángel,’ the golden statue at the heart of Mexico City that haunts his memories and inspires his future. Spurred by the memory of his parents, Gabriel is drawn to the secretive world of lucha libre, where wrestling, performance art and big business collide.

Under the conflicting mentorships of one of lucha libre’s famed gay exótico wrestlers and an ambitious young luchador whose star is on the rise, Gabriel must choose between traditions that ground him but may limit his future, and the lure of sex and success that may compromise his independence. Surrounded by a makeshift family of wrestlers, Gabriel charts a course to balance ambition, sexuality, and loyalty to find the future that may have been destined for him since childhood.

Why I think you should read it: Weaving together the fictionalized rise to fame of a young Mexican-American luchador and the history of the sport of Lucha Libre, Luchador is a fascinating and sweeping novel not to be missed! As Gabriel rises amongst the ranks from spectator to trainee to full fledged Luchador, what he wants and needs from the sport and life change drastically. Erin Finnegan explores the sport and its participants, giving readers an in-depth look at what is important to those who take part and how lucha libre figures into Mexican culture. The writing is lush and evocative with beautiful descriptions of Mexico City’s landmarks as well as the minutiae of daily life. Get it for the romance, stay for all the history! Truly one of the most remarkable books I’ve read in a very long time.

Judith is the owner and curator of the book review site Binge on Books, as well as the boutique press Open Ink and the literary PR agency, A Novel Take PR. You can also find Judith on HEA USA Today with her LGBTQ romance column Rainbow Trends, and on Teen Vogue talking her favorites in queer YA and New Adult.

Connect with Judith: @bingeonbooks

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