For Readers

Women’s Lit Books To Kick Off 2024

By: Hidden Gems on January 2, 2024

Hidden Gems Books ARC service.

By: Hidden Gems on January 2, 2024


Explore this selection of women’s literature from the Hidden Gems ARC program—ranging from lighthearted to heart-wrenching. These novels, rich in themes of exploration and redemption, delve into the complexities of family and friendship relationships. Whether you’re seeking a moment of “me time” or your next book club pick, these compelling reads promise an engaging journey through relatable and resonant stories.

Bouquets and Breakups

Bouquets and Breakups by Jules Matthew

Poppi Applewhaite’s meticulously crafted to-do list is her roadmap to success, but as life throws unexpected curveballs, she finds herself juggling professional aspirations and personal loyalties. Tasked with orchestrating the grandest wedding in Barbados, Poppi sees it as her golden opportunity to ascend the career ladder and prove herself to her affluent circle. However, her ambitions face sabotage from an unexpected source, threatening not only her professional standing but also unveiling buried personal truths.

“I really loved this book,” writes Anonymous in their 5-star review. “I love a book that can evoke emotions from me and make me care about the characters. It also had some funny moments with very relatable situations that had me rooting for the main character Poppi. This book kept me interested with the shenanigans she got herself in!”

“Very descriptive book with lots of threads weaving characters together,” writes Anonymous in their 5-star review. “A cozy corner, lazy day read as you explore the characters’ flaws.”

Mary Not Broken

Mary Not Broken by Deborah L. King

In 1930s Mississippi, Mary Johnson dreams of escaping her family’s farm and the confines of her father’s church to pursue a life of music and love with Mason Carter. When pressured into a loveless union with wealthy preacher William Bevers, Mary rebels, eloping with Mason to Chicago. However, the northern lights lose their shine, leading Mary back home. Faced with the prospect of a forced marriage, Mary considers William’s proposal, only to realize that the safety he offers may come at the cost of her dreams. In a poignant tale of resilience, Mary must navigate societal expectations and her own desires to find true happiness.

“With compassion and a little wit, Deborah takes us into Mary’s life, going back and forth between Chicago and Mississippi,” writes Anonymous in their 5-star review. “So many great characters and a picture of an Era and a community.”

Mary Not Broken grabs you by the shoulders and squeezes until the very last page,” writes JP in their 5-star review. “Highly recommend this book, as well as the entire series.”

Vastly Underrated

Vastly Underrated by Rachel Rafferty

Dedicated counselor Debra always sticks to her to-do list—until family needs lead her to a spontaneous decision, leaving her job and partner behind in Ireland. In the unfolding journey, romance and a dream career spark newfound vitality. Yet, an unexpected call from home challenges her newfound freedom. At fifty, Debra faces a pivotal choice: return to the familiar or embrace a reinvented life. Can she defy the odds, break free from her comfort zone, and become the master of her destiny? Debra navigates love, loss, and the pursuit of her long-buried ambitions.

Vastly Underrated is a lovely and thought provoking story. This is Debra’s journey of coming to grips with her life at fifty,” writes Renee in their 5-star review. “A tragedy sends her into an emotional tailspin and sets her off on a life changing trajectory. She examines every element of her life – family and love relationships, career dreams, a personal passions. She embarks on an incredible adventure of self discovery and reflection. She meets new and exciting people, and discovers her purpose. A wonderfully written story for women of any age.”

“Beautiful book about everyday struggles and the impact of sudden tragedy on throwing a spotlight on prioritising your own happiness,” writes Anonymous in their 5-star review. “Life is to be lived and this fabulous book captures it so well.”

Weekend Friends

Weekend Friends by Bella Ellwood-Clayton

Food photographer Rebecca and her daughter Willow relocate from Alaska to Boca Raton, escaping a dark secret. As Willow grapples with bullying, Rebecca finds solace in a heated relationship with the school’s charismatic head. Lies and secrets spiral out of control, leading mother and daughter to face devastating consequences outside their gated community.

“Intense, compelling, and thought provoking, I devoured Weekend Friends in two sittings,” writes Lisa H. in their 5-star review. “Beautifully written and constructed, Weekend Friends is a multifaceted study of mother/daughter relationships, toxic friendships, and the lies people tell and secrets they will hold, to keep up appearances.”

“This is an engaging story of a mother and tween daughter struggling with grief and starting over after a move from Alaska to Boca Raton, FL,” writes Lisa A. in their 5-star review. “The exact cause of the loss of Rebecca’s husband, Willow’s father, is somewhat mysterious at first, and gradually revealed prompting me to really think about the challenges facing such a difficult decision. The novel is written in such a relatable manner that I found myself going through a range of emotions along with the characters. You could feel the confusion about moving on and still coping with the waves of sadness. There are some trigger warnings to be aware of, but there is also humor, hope, love, and acceptance. I love a thought-provoking, well-written novel that gives me all the feels.”

When Cardinals Appear by Katie Eagan Schenck

In the aftermath of her mother’s death, Lanie McAllister is determined to fulfill a promise and leave painful memories behind. Yet, a persistent red bird and a twist of fate throw her plans into disarray, leading her to confront the man who once shattered her heart. As she grapples with the wounds of the past and navigates a present filled with unexpected revelations, Lanie begins to question her pursuit of happiness. Is the cardinal a harbinger of a hidden truth, suggesting that her true joy might be closer than she thinks? In this heartwarming tale of love, loss, and rediscovery, Lanie learns that sometimes the path to fulfillment requires revisiting the promises we make to ourselves and those we hold dear.

When Cardinals Appear may rip your heart to shreds, and it’s well worth it. If you shed a few tears or even a bucket full, it’s still worth it,” writes Rachel in their 5-star review. “This is a powerful novel about a mother and daughter relationship, how parenting can sometimes cause us to act, say, and do things to ‘protect’ our children, usually ends up causing more hurt than if noses had been kept out of it and allowed children to learn their own lessons and make their own way, bitterness, heartbreak, betrayal, forgiveness, and grief.”

“This book is a true coming-of-age story following a young woman who struggles with these questions,” writes Christina in their 5-star review. “When Cardinals Appear was a touching, sweet, and very charming read. The perfect small-town setting filled with love, loss, grief, confusion, and huge decisions to be made. I was emotionally invested through every turn of the page.”

Hidden Gems readers got to read these women’s literature novels first, so if you want more stories that will stay with you, sign up today! Subscribers to Hidden Gems receive invitations to read books like these – plus other titles from any of up to 15 other genres – for free. All we ask is that you consider leaving an honest review of them on Amazon when you’re done reading!

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