7 Women’s Fiction Books To Unwind With

Women’s fiction gets a bad rap. I think maybe because of the name people get turned off. Personally, I love women’s fiction. I enjoy reading about things women my own age go through. The books discussed below definitely reflect that. I think it’s okay to be a proud reader of books aimed at women, at this version of contemporary fiction. Each of the books below was a pretty quick read and honestly, I enjoyed each book in it’s own way and fashion.

Also: FYI as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Personally, I love women's fiction. I enjoy reading about things women my own age go through. The books discussed below definitely reflect that. I think it's okay to be a proud reader of books aimed at women, at this version of contemporary fiction.

The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

7 Women’s Fiction Books To Unwind WithThe Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller, Rachel L. Jacobs
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780451476302
Goodreads
four-stars

One woman's journey home gets derailed by her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law in a novel filled with humor, small-town charm, rekindled love, and the resilient ties of family.

Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art.

But Shirley Pratt--master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn's terror of a live-in monster-in-law--has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn's trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams.

The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas really scratched an itch for me. I am kind of at the point where I just want to read nothing but contemporary fiction this summer. And so, this book totally fits the bill. It’s one that I probably would not entirely have sought out on my own if I did not have it on my Netgalley queue requiring review. However, I actually am REALLY glad I read this book.

Thomas’s The Future She Left Behind features Katelyn, a 40 year old divorcee. She’s just been served divorce papers by her husband Don who is currently away for business in another country. And oh by the way, he cheated on her too. Multiple times. So, Katelyn makes the decision to drive home from St. Louis to Little Springs, Texas where she was born and raised. Only, her ex-mother in law is coming with her. Shirley, the mother in law, is forgetful and there’s no one really to take care of her so, Katelyn takes that responsibility on.

Once in Texas, Katelyn stays at her childhood home with her mother, Birdie. She’s decided to give Birdie a break from her job by working Birdie’s shifts at the Bag & Go grocery store while she figures out where to go next and how to handle the divorce. Meanwhile, Katelyn is also reconnecting with an old flame, Jackson. Speaking of flames, sparks ignite for Shirley too.

The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas really scratched an itch for me. I am kind of at the point where I just want to read nothing but contemporary fiction this summer. And so, this book totally fits the bill.

So, this book is a gentle, fun read. It’s about a small town peopled with eccentric, good people. There really isn’t any over the top drama. It is all about women (and a man) who just come into their own. For Katelyn, she discovers her old passion for art again and gives herself permission to create and make mistakes. I think that some people might find this book boring. But for others who want a good, low key read about characters, this is really going to fill that craving. I personally LOVED it.

California Summer by Anita Hughes

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

7 Women’s Fiction Books To Unwind WithCalifornia Summer by Anita Hughes
Also by this author: Emerald Coast
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 19, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Women, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9781250166661
Goodreads
three-stars

"The perfect beach read!" —Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of Beach House Reunion."Tender and triumphant...California Summer made my heart sing." —Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of Between Me and YouAnita Hughes's California Summer is a charming and beautiful love story about a former Hollywood producer who trades her cast list in for cookbooks in the hopes of following her dreams and finding new love.

Ben and Rosie are Hollywood’s newest director/producer dream team. After hitting it big at Sundance, it seems that their ten years of love and hard work are finally paying off. Rosie is happy making independent films, but Ben wants the A-List celebrity package: a house in Beverly Hills, fancy cars in the driveway, and his name on the biggest blockbusters. He’s willing to do anything, even sleep with the most famous producer in town, to get them.

Rosie is devastated by Ben’s affair, and she decides to take a break from show business. She accepts her best friend's invitation to spend the summer at her parents' estate in Montecito. It's far away from L.A., the perfect place to start over.

In Montecito, Rosie meets a colorful cast of characters including Rachel, who owns a chocolate shop, and Josh, a handsome local who splits his time between surfing and classic cars. Suddenly Rosie has new friends and a new purpose. She starts a business in the village, and her luck seems to be turning around. But Rosie knows all too well that success comes with a price, and the price might be losing love...again.

California Summer is a touching and romantic story about following your dreams but not letting them get in the way of love.

California Summer by Anita Hughes seemed like it would be the kind of book that would be perfect to read out on the deck and kick off summer. It’s got this great cover with some real beach vibes. As it turns out, this book is okay but I just never jived perfectly with it.

California Summer follows Rosie who was this up and coming producer in Hollywood along with her longtime boyfriend, Ben. Only one day she comes home after scouting a location and the sheets are mused in a way that reveals Ben has slept with another woman. Ben has had an affair and so, Rosie runs away to the home of a friend’s parents in Montecito where she goes to lick her wounds. There, Rosie rediscovers a passion for cooking. She also discovers another man, a surfer named Josh.

So, okay, I loved the setting of this book. That was incredibly well written. I haven’t really had much of a desire to go to California before reading this. I think that Hughes really makes the setting seem so lush and warm and lovely. However, I just was not a big fan of Rosie. She comes across as kind of pathetic and hung up on this guy who isn’t worth it. I mean, maybe that is also the pitfall of comparison to the previous book I read. In the other book, the woman who is cheated on finds an old passion but never once is she hell bent on getting back together with the cheater.

California Summer by Anita Hughes seemed like it would be the kind of book that would be perfect to read out on the deck and kick off summer.

I guess this book is easy and breezy. It does go quick and you could probably read it all in one sitting. However, I just did not end up feeling any real depth or emotions. But, if you like a good setting book, you may like California Summer more than I did.


The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

I received this book for free from Library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

7 Women’s Fiction Books To Unwind WithThe Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Also by this author: The Kiss Quotient
Series: The Kiss Quotient #2
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Length: 10 Hours
Published by Penguin on May 7, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Women, Multicultural & Interracial
Pages: 320
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780451490834
Goodreads
five-stars

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Kiss Quotient comes a romantic novel about love that crosses international borders and all boundaries of the heart...

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he's defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can't turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn't go as planned. Esme's lessons in love seem to be working...but only on herself. She's hopelessly smitten with a man who's convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme's time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he's been wrong all along. And there's more than one way to love.

What Did I Think Of The Bride Test?

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang is set in the same universe as The Kiss Quotient and it proves that Hoang is not just some flash in the pan author. Her talent is genuine. This story follows Esme and Khai. Esme is essentially a janitor working in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam supporting her daughter and mother. She’s basically a single mother. Anyways, one day she happens to receive this opportunity to go to America and seduce Khai, this one woman’s son because Khai’s mother seems to think he’ll never get married and be forever alone. So, Esme takes the opportunity (it is a bit more complex than that) and flies out to California and ends up living with Khai while also attending all the weddings with him and working in his mother’s restaurant. Now, Khai is autistic and only speaks English. He can understand Vietnamese though. Meanwhile, Esme only speaks Vietnamese and understands English, but she wants to learn, badly.


For Esme, this is a huge chance to change her life around. And well, she ends up falling hard for Khai. Except, he doesn’t seem to reciprocate her feelings. I can’t really say anything at all about rep. But, I will say, I loved this book. I thought Esme’s character was very well written and so admirable. Her drive to obtain an education and make something of herself was so cool to read. I really rooted for her. And then Khai, I rooted for him as well. He makes some pretty big realizations. I think if you like character driven, you will for sure like The Bride Test. Also, definitely would recommend both books via audio.

How’s The Narration?

The audiobook of The Bride Test is narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. I am kind of neutral with her narration. There’s some books that she’s narrated that I love and some that I could take or leave. Blessedly, The Bride Test is a book that I loved. Granted, again, this is an audiobook that I listened to at 2x speed, because I think Zeller’s narration tends to be really slow. However, it was worth the listen. I think I liked this as much as I enjoyed listening to The Kiss Quotient. The audiobook is ten hours long. It’s very compelling and honestly Zeller does a superb job bringing the story to life. Plus, it was good to listen to because I was questioning how to pronounce things in the book and it was awesome to know how they should be pronounced.

Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

7 Women’s Fiction Books To Unwind WithWaiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Series: Waiting For Tom Hanks #1
Narrator: Rachel L. Jacobs
Length: 8 Hours 33 Minutes
Published by Penguin on June 11, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Contemporary, Women
Pages: 288
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9781984804037
Goodreads
three-half-stars

A rom-com-obsessed romantic waiting for her perfect leading man learns that life doesn’t always go according to a script in this delightfully charming and funny novel.Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days...can he?

What Did I Think of Waiting For Tom Hanks?

Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey is a super cute, super quick read. Was it earth shattering and life changing? No, definitely not. However, it is easy to follow and easy to like. For me, it probably suffers a little bit in comparison to The Friend Zone which I had read within like a week or two of Waiting For Tom Hanks. So, inevitably, I was comparing books of the same genre.

Winfrey’s book is about a writer named Annie who is obsessed with romantic comedies. She grew up watching them with her mom. So, she expects to have a love story that is similar to a romantic comedy and will not settle for less. Anyways, one day Annie has an encounter with this movie star named Drew who has come to town to star in a romantic comedy. Annie decides she cannot stand Drew. Unfortunately for her, she ends up working as an assistant on the movie and has to work a lot with Drew. As all romantic comedies go, the hate ends up turning into something that absolutely does not look like hate.


Well, I liked all the references to movies that I love. I thought it was funny how Annie is so determined to live her life that way. And then there’s a part of me that thinks, we all deserve a great love story and for someone to treat us excellently. So, I could get behind her state of mind and life in Waiting For Tom Hanks. Also, Annie’s Uncle is a treasure. Most of the side characters are great in this book.

How’s The Narration?

The audiobook of Waiting For Tom Hanks is narrated by Rachel L. Jacobs and is 8 hours 33 minutes long. Of course, I listened to this sped up and in a single day. Jacobs does a great job voicing Annie — making her sound a bit on the young side and kind of naive. But still, nailing her growth as a character. I’d for sure recommend this audiobook.

In This Moment by Karma Brown

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

7 Women’s Fiction Books To Unwind WithIn This Moment by Karma Brown
Published by Harlequin on May 30, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Women, Family Life, General, Literary
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9781460396674
Goodreads
four-stars

Bestselling author Karma Brown is back with a morally infused and emotionally riveting exploration of one woman's guilt over an unexpected—yet avoidable—tragedy

Meg Pepper has a fulfilling career and a happy family. Most days she's able to keep it all together and glide through life. But then, in one unalterable moment, everything changes.

After school pickup one day, she stops her car to wave a teenage boy across the street…just as another car comes hurtling down the road and slams into him.

Meg can't help but blame herself for her role in this horrific disaster. Full of remorse, she throws herself into helping the boy's family as he rehabs from his injuries. But the more Meg tries to absolve herself, the more she alienates her own family—and the more she finds herself being drawn to the boy's father.

Soon Meg's picture-perfect life is unravelling before her eyes. As the painful secrets she's been burying bubble dangerously close to the surface, she will have to decide: Can she forgive herself, or will she risk losing everything she holds dear to her heart?

One of my favorite people in the world, my dear friend Allison is a massive Karma Brown fan. So I have been meaning to get to her books for what feels like forever. Finally I got the chance to just sit down and read In This Moment by Karma Brown. The experience was one that I am absolutely willing to repeat. I am so glad that I waited to read this book and read it while I am married with a kid. It just makes it so much easier to relate to the main character and what she’s experiencing in the plot.

In This Moment follows Meg Pepper who is driving her daughter Audrey to a dentist appointment after school when she makes a terrible mistake. She waves a boy, Jack, to cross the road in front of her car. Unfortunately, a driver in the opposite lane doesn’t see Jack and hits him. It’s a horrific accident and Meg blames herself for what happens. The repercussions of this spread throughout Meg’s life, impacting her work as well as her marriage. Meg is unable to focus at work and finds herself screwing up. Meanwhile, she finds herself not maintaining healthy boundaries and trying to do more and more to help Jack’s family – including forming a bit of an unhealthy attachment/friendship with his father Andrew.

And well, the accident brings up some trauma from Meg’s teenage years that it looks like she hasn’t ever really processed. So, Meg is losing sleep. Her daughter is acting in an uncharacteristic way. Plus, she’s feeling distant from her husband, Ryan.

Finally I got the chance to just sit down and read In This Moment by Karma Brown. The experience was one that I am absolutely willing to repeat.

I really enjoyed my time reading this book. The chapters are short. Meg is so compelling – the woman just needs a break. I can see how her exhaustion and overwhelmed state is driving a lot of her bad choices. Plus all the pressure she puts on herself. I loved her friendship with Julie. Also, how she batch cooks and how I should probably do that after learning how to cook. ALSO In This Moment is therapy positive which also very much appreciate. Definitely would recommend – particularly if you’re also an overwhelmed person – it’s great to wind down with.

The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

7 Women’s Fiction Books To Unwind WithThe One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel
Published by St. Martin's Press on August 22, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Women
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9781250130372
Goodreads
four-stars

Melissa Pimentel delivers smart, funny, and modern retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, where a young woman comes face-to-face with a lost love, proving that the one that got away is sometimes the one you get back.

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren't.

Ten years later, Ruby's single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There's barely time for a trip to England for her little sister's wedding. And there's certainly not time to think about seeing Ethan there for the first time in years.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can't help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago? Because there's nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past . . .

The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel is exactly what I wanted to read at the time I wanted to read. This book is a story of lost love and love reignited, set against the backdrop of a wedding in England. Of course I loved my time with The One That Got Away, although there’s just one small thing that bothered me while reading.

The One That Got Away follows Ruby Atlas, a thirty something NYC dweller who works in advertising. Ruby is heading to England for her sister Piper’s wedding. Unfortunately for Ruby, her ex boyfriend Ethan will be at the wedding as well, as Ethan is best friends with the groom, Charlie. So, the story goes back and forth between past and present leading up to why Ruby and Ethan broke up in the first place.

I’d say this book isn’t earth shattering or anything. It is supposedly a retelling of Persuasion, but there’s no Captain Wentworth letter. I can see how certain parts of the plot and characterization connect to the Jane Austen story, but for the most part, I’d say this is a very loose retelling without the best part (the letter). On the whole though, The One That Got Away is a quick, engaging light read and you will absolutely root for Ruby and Ethan.

The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel is exactly what I wanted to read at the time I wanted to read. This book is a story of lost love and love reignited, set against the backdrop of a wedding in England.

The only thing I didn’t like was the reason Ruby and Ethan broke up as well as the blame Ruby carries. What happened is: View Spoiler »

Definitely give this a book shot though if you want something light and easy.

The Choices We Make by Karma Brown

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

7 Women’s Fiction Books To Unwind WithThe Choices We Make by Karma Brown
Published by MIRA on July 12, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Women, Family Life, Literary
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9781459293984
Goodreads
three-half-stars

"She's the female Nicholas Sparks." — Redbook magazine

Following her bestselling debut novel Come Away with Me, Karma Brown returns with an unforgettable story that explores the intricate dynamics of friendship and parenthood

Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate's skirt with a mirror. While they've been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can't help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.

She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah's heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it's Kate's turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah's surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.

Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of an incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.

The Choices We Make by Karma Brown really has quite the difficult to get through plot. I mean about 2/3 of the way through the book something happens that kind of put me off this book – which I guess is the whole point the story pivots around. Anyways, if you enjoy reading Jodi Piccoult, I guarantee you will enjoy this book. It has that same kind of ethical dilemma.

The Choices We Make is about two best friends – Kate and Hannah. Kate is a stay at home mother to two girls. Hannah is a recipe developer for a magazine and dealing with infertility. Kate who is too pure for this world offers to be a surrogate for Hannah as well as an egg donor. And so, she carries a baby for Hannah – going completely above and beyond for her friend. This book navigates that friendship and then navigates into when the unthinkable happens and how to handle it.

On the whole, this book didn’t quite jibe with me as much as In This Moment. I guess I just didn’t care for the twist. There were a lot of hints of what was going to happen. And I didn’t like at all how it played out. I feel somewhat emotionally manipulated into being sad over this book – sort of how I felt after two of Jodi Picoult’s books. The friendship between Kate and Hannah and the interactions with their respective spouses David and Ben were great and seemed realistic.


Overall The Choices We Make by Karma Brown is a quick read and even though I absolutely did not connect with it like I wanted to, there’s an audience. That audience is not me per se, but people who like ethical dilemmas and sad stories and tragedies.

The Choices We Make is about two best friends - Kate and Hannah. Kate is a stay at home mother to two girls. Hannah is a recipe developer for a magazine and dealing with infertility. Kate who is too pure for this world offers to be a surrogate for Hannah as well as an egg donor. And so, she carries a baby for Hannah - going completely above and beyond for her friend. This book navigates that friendship and then navigates into when the unthinkable happens and how to handle it.

four-stars
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Comments

  1. Nice list but… some of the romance ones don’t really look like women’s fiction to me. No matter.

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