Our Mother’s Day Gift Guide: 12 Books Perfect for Mom

April 11 2022
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Yes, you read that headline right. Mother’s Day is just around the corner, coming this year on May 8. Make sure to order those gifts and write those cards. To help you out, we’ve collected some book recs from a wide array of genres below. And if you prefer to get mom a book bundle, we’ve also included book recs that’d make an excellent themed gift to give mom.

For more ideas, check out Simon & Schuster’s Mother’s Day Gift Guide!

Little Earthquakes
by Jennifer Weiner

For the chill mom who reads page-turners in the bath:

Follow several women as they navigate the hilarious, traumatic, and downright exhausting feats of new motherhood. Becky is a chef at a city-wide acclaimed restaurant with a great husband and newborn baby girl. But her real struggle lies in her monstrous mother-in-law from hell. Kelly is an event planner attempting to juggle work, raising a newborn, and balancing the needs of her unemployed husband who seems to have zero ambitions of finding work for himself. Ayinde is the wife of a superstar basketball player, but when he betrays her trust, he subjects his family to the humility of the public eye. And lastly there is Lia. She has left her husband and her entire life behind in Philadelphia to start anew, hoping to run away from her long-kept secrets. This wildly funny take on motherhood will have mothers across the board laughing, crying, and sympathizing along with these women as they attempt to wade through their own struggles.  –Holly Claytor

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Little Earthquakes
Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner's richest, wittiest, most true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate one of life's most wonderful and perilous transitions: the journay of new motherhood.

Becky is a plump, sexy chef who has a wonderfull husband and baby girl, a restaurant that received a citywide acclaim -- and the mother-in-law from hell. Kelly is an event planner who's struggling to balance her work and motherhood while dealing with unemployed husband who seems content to channel-surf for eight hours a day. Ayinde's basketball superstar husband breaks her trust at her most vulnerable moment, putting their new family even more in the public eye. Then, there's Lia, a Philadelphia native who has left her Hollywood career behind, along with her husband, and a tragic secret to start her life all over again.

From prenatal yoga to postbirth sex, Little Earthquakes is a frank, funny, fiercely perceptive take on the comedies and tragedies of love and marriage.

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One Italian Summer
by Rebecca Serle

For the mom who loves to cry:

Mother and daughter Carol and Katy are best friends. In Katy’s eyes, Carol is perfect and always knows exactly what to do. But when Carol dies, Katy becomes unsure of everything—including her marriage to Eric and the life she has chosen. Before Carol’s death, Katy planned a mother-daughter trip to Italy: two weeks in Positano, going to the same places Carol visited before she was married, before she had Katy. Now Katy must go alone. Once she’s there, it doesn’t take Katy long to understand why Carol loved it so. Katy feels such a connection to Carol that when she actually sees her mother one day—not as she knew her in the last years of her life but young and vivacious—she can almost believe it. In this time spent with Carol, Katy realizes she may not be getting the mother-daughter vacation she dreamed of, but maybe she’s experiencing something better: one last chance to really know who her mother was, to see her through different eyes, to heal and say goodbye. I read this book through laughter and tears. Don’t miss this beautiful story. –Karen Bellovich 

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One Italian Summer
Rebecca Serle

The New York Times bestselling author of the “heartwarming, heartbreaking, and hard to put down” (Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author) modern classic In Five Years returns with a moving and unforgettable exploration of the powerful bond between mother and daughter set on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.

When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and a daughter. With her signature “heartbreaking, redemptive, and authentic” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.

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Magpie
by Elizabeth Day

For the mom who likes thrillers:

Marisa and Jake are saving money to afford fertility treatments, so their new lodger, Kate, is a blessing—at first. Then Kate becomes the roommate of nightmares, invading the couple’s space and flirting with Jake. Distracted as she is by the all-consuming struggle of trying to get pregnant, though, Marisa doesn’t let the behavior trouble her too much, and she takes comfort in the knowledge that Kate will be gone soon. But as Kate continues to pry too close for comfort, Marisa starts to wonder who Kate really is and what she wants. Complete with a perfectly executed twist, this satisfying thriller comes out on May 3, just in time for Mother’s Day! –Emily Lewis

To turn this gift into a thrilling bundle, be sure to include Katherine Faulkner’s GREENWICH PARK and Jessamine Chan’s THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD MOTHERS.  

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Magpie
Elizabeth Day

She has almost everything. The rest she’ll take.

For fans of Gone Girl and The Perfect Nanny, a taut, psychological suspense novel about a perfect couple and their seemingly perfect roommate—that is until she threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to create.

Marisa and Jake are a perfect couple. And Kate, their new lodger, is the perfect roommate—and not just because her rent payments will give them the income they need to start trying for the baby of their dreams.

Except—no one is truly perfect. Sure, Kate doesn’t seem to care much about personal boundaries and can occasionally seem overly-familiar with Jake. But Marisa doesn’t let it concern her, knowing that soon Kate will be gone, and it will just be her, Jake, and their future baby.

Conceiving a baby is easier said than done, though, and Jake and Marisa’s perfect relationship is put to the test through months of fertility treatments and false starts. To make matters worse, Kate’s boundary-pushing turns into an all-out obsession—with Jake, with Marisa, and with their future child. Who is this woman? Why does she seem to know everything about Marisa and Jake?

In her quest to find out who Kate really is, Marisa might destroy everything she’s worked so hard to create—her perfect romance, her perfect family, and her perfect self.

Jake doesn’t know the half of what Marisa has created—and what she stands to lose.

For fans of Gone Girl and The Perfect Nanny, Magpie is a tense and twisting novel about mothers and children, envy and possession, and the dangers of getting everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

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Speak
by Tunde Oyeneyin

For the Peloton-obsessed mom:

Tunde Oyeneyin is not only a Peloton instructor and emerging celebrity, but also the founder of SPEAK, an acronym for her personal manifesto: Surrender, Power, Empathy, Authenticity, and Knowledge. In her new memoir, Oyeneyin shares the experiences that led her to this empowering message and offers inspiring lessons on loss, love, body image, joy, and more. Perfect for fans of Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle, this book has the power to change lives and spread positivity. –Emily Lewis

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Speak
Tunde Oyeneyin

From Tunde Oyeneyin, the massively popular Peloton instructor, fitness star, and founder of SPEAK, comes an empowering, inspiring book that shows how she transformed grief, setbacks, and flaws into growth, self-confidence, and triumph—for fans of Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle.

On any given day, thousands of devoted people clip into their bikes and have their lives changed by Tunde Oyeneyin. From her platform in a Peloton studio, she encourages riders with her trademark blend of positivity, empathy, and motivational “Tunde-isms,” to push themselves to their limits both on and off the bike. Now, fans and readers everywhere can learn about her personal journey, and discover how they too can “live a life of purpose, on purpose” with Speak, a memoir-manifesto-guide to life inspired by her immensely popular Instagram Live series of the same name.

Taking us through each step of the SPEAK acronym—Surrender, Power, Empathy, Authenticity, and Knowledge—Oyeneyin shares the lessons she has learned about loss, love, body image, and how she has successfully created an intentional, joyful life for herself, offering an accessible blueprint for anyone looking to make a positive change in their lives.

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The Possible World
by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

For the mom who loves flowers:

While a classic flower arrangement never goes out of style, a book bouquet with a bright array of floral covers would make an even more personal gift if Mom’s an avid reader. We recommend including the beautiful novel THE POSSIBLE WORLD, which spans nearly a century of time, from the Great Depression through the Vietnam War era and into the present. It’s about the converging lives of a young boy who witnesses a brutal murder, the doctor who tends to him, and an old woman guarding her long-buried past. –Off the Shelf Staff

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The Possible World
Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

“A brilliantly written, moving story” (The Washington Book Review) about the converging lives of a young boy who witnesses a brutal murder, the doctor who tends to him, and an old woman guarding her long-buried past.

It seems like just another night shift for Lucy, an overworked ER physician in Providence, Rhode Island, until six-year-old Ben is brought in as the sole survivor from a crime scene. He’s traumatized and wordless; everything he knows has been taken from him in an afternoon. It’s not clear what he saw or what he remembers.

Lucy, who’s grappling with the demise of her marriage, feels a profound, unexpected connection to the little boy. She wants to help him…but will recovering his memory heal him or damage him further?

Across town, Clare will soon be turning one hundred years old. She has long believed that the secrets she’s been keeping don’t matter to anyone anymore, but a surprising encounter makes her realize that the time has come to tell her story.

As Ben, Lucy, and Clare struggle to confront the events that shattered their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together.

“Schwarz blends a clear-eyed acceptance of life’s pain and cruelties with a hopeful message about the enduring power of love in this rich and memorable novel” (Publishers Weekly). The Possible World spans nearly a century—from the Great Depression through the Vietnam War era and into the present—and “in beautifully crafted prose” (Booklist) captures the complicated ways our pasts shape our identities, and how timeless bonds can triumph over grief. “A bittersweet story full of imagination and nostalgia, loss and redemption…The Possible World will seize readers from the first scene and hold tight until its satisfying conclusion” (Kirkus Reviews).

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Slightly South of Simple
by Kristy Woodson Harvey

For the mom who’s struggling with an empty nest:

I love Kristy Woodson Harvey, and while her books definitely cater to a lot of romance fans, they are still incredibly family oriented and packed with simple heartfelt moments. This book makes me happy, like staying in a full beach house ready to celebrate the summer with the people I love. Caroline is a New Yorker born and bred and swore never to return to the small town of Peachtree Bluff her mother moved her to during her senior year of high school. But when her high society marriage falls apart in a very public and embarrassing way, she decides she needs an escape. So Caroline finds herself back in Peachtree Bluff with her mother, Ansley, and her nine-year-old daughter. Ansley has always put her daughters first, but with her own design business and place in Peachtree Bluff, she finally feels like she has a life of her own. So when her other two daughters, Sloane and Emerson, also show up, Ansley can’t help but feel like a piece of herself is slipping away again. This book is full of love, family drama, secrets, and of course southern charm. –Maddie Ehrenreich

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Slightly South of Simple
Kristy Woodson Harvey

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
*Glitter Guide’s “Must Reads for April”
*PopSugar’s “Ultimate Summer Reading”
*Bustle’s Books to Read and Discuss With Your Mom and Grandma
*New York Live’s “Ashley’s A-List” Pick

“One of the hottest new Southern writers.” —Parade

From the next “major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author) comes the first in an all-new series chronicling the journeys of three sisters and their mother—and a secret from their past that has the potential to tear them apart and reshape their very definition of what it means to be a family.

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she'd spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley's life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.

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Little Disasters
by Sarah Vaughan

For the mom who watches Law & Order:

Sarah Vaughan’s haunting portrait of a mother placed under investigation after her baby sustains a suspicious injury opens with a horribly recognizable scene: a newborn baby that will not stop crying, and a mother pushed to her limits. When the same mother, Jess, arrives at her local hospital with an injured baby Betsey, the doctor on duty is her friend Liz, whom she met at prenatal class. Betsey has a fractured skull, and Liz’s colleagues feel the incident is suspicious. But Liz knows Jess is a good mother—an almost perfect mother, in fact. She knows she would never do anything to harm her baby. Doesn’t she? As dark secrets from the past begin to emerge, the friendship between the two mothers is pushed to the breaking point. A brilliant and deeply unsettling read. –Katherine Faulkner, author of GREENWICH PARK 

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Little Disasters
Sarah Vaughan

“Taut, clever, compelling, and guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.” —Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

From the bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal—soon to be a Netflix series—a new thought-provoking novel exploring the complexity of motherhood and all that connects and disconnects us.

You think you know her…but look a little closer.

She is a stay-at-home mother-of-three with boundless reserves of patience, energy, and love. After being friends for a decade, this is how Liz sees Jess.

Then one moment changes everything.

Dark thoughts and carefully guarded secrets surface—and Liz is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her friend, and about herself. The truth can’t come soon enough.

With Sarah Vaughan’s signature “clever and compelling” (Claire Douglas, author of Last Seen Alive) prose, Little Disasters is a tightly-wound and evocative page-turner that will haunt you long after you finish the last page.

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The Invisible Bridge
by Julie Orringer

For the mom who wants to read what the other moms are reading:

An intricately layered historical novel that’s perfect for fans of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE and CUTTING FOR STONE, Julie Orringer’s THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE begins in the late 1930s, when a young Hungarian-Jewish man named Andras Levi arrives in Paris to study architecture. There, he falls in love with a ballet teacher, but their relationship is cut short when his visa is revoked and he must return to Hungary for the labor service. As the war begins and anti-Semitism intensifies, his life—and the world—will be changed forever. –Off the Shelf writer Max’s Mom

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The Invisible Bridge
Julie Orringer

The course of a Hungarian-Jewish family’s history is forever altered when a secret comes to light. This novel of love, loss, loyalty, and luck is told across war-torn countries during World War II.

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The Code Breaker
by Walter Isaacson

For the mom who’s always learning:

Talk about riveting! THE CODE BREAKER by Walter Isaacson is my new go-to favorite for nonfiction. At the beginning, we learn that Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna was told as a youngster that girls couldn't become scientists! I mean, c’mon! Luckily, Doudna took that as a challenge and ended up with a Nobel for editing DNA. Isaacson’s writing prowess makes this true story as thrilling as a detective novel. All I can do is shout about how great it is. –Carol Ann Tack, Head of Reader Services at Merrick Library

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The Code Breaker
Walter Isaacson

A Best Book of 2021 by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Time, and The Washington Post

The bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a “compelling” (The Washington Post) account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies.

When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.

Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his codiscovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.

The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.

Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm…Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids?

After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is an “enthralling detective story” (Oprah Daily) that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species.

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Infinite Country
by Patricia Engel

For the mom who never misses book club:

INFINITE COUNTRY launches the reader straight into a race-against-the-clock plot with fifteen-year-old Talia strategizing how to escape from a correctional facility in Bogota, Colombia, to reunite with her father and board a plane to the United States. Author Patricia Engel impressively entwines Andean myth with alternate POVs and timelines, as when she explores the thrill, years earlier, when Talia’s parents fall in love, and then the tragedy as they’re forced to flee because of the Colombian civil war and end up in the U.S. on a temporary visa.  –Off the Shelf Staff

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Infinite Country
Patricia Engel

A REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK and INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A profound, beautiful novel.” — People * “Poignant.” —BuzzFeed * “A breathtaking story of the unimaginable prices paid for a better life.” —Esquire

This “heartbreaking portrait of a family dealing with the realities of migration and separation” (Time) is “a sweeping love story and tragic drama [and] an authentic vision of what the American Dream looks like in a nationalistic country” (Elle).

I often wonder if we are living the wrong life in the wrong country.

Talia is being held at a correctional facility for adolescent girls in the forested mountains of Colombia after committing an impulsive act of violence that may or may not have been warranted. She urgently needs to get out and get back home to Bogotá, where her father and a plane ticket to the United States are waiting for her. If she misses her flight, she might also miss her chance to finally be reunited with her family.

How this family came to occupy two different countries, two different worlds, comes into focus like twists of a kaleidoscope. We see Talia’s parents, Mauro and Elena, fall in love in a market stall as teenagers against a backdrop of civil war and social unrest. We see them leave Bogotá with their firstborn, Karina, in pursuit of safety and opportunity in the United States on a temporary visa, and we see the births of two more children, Nando and Talia, on American soil. We witness the decisions and indecisions that lead to Mauro’s deportation and the family’s splintering—the costs they’ve all been living with ever since.

Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Patricia Engel, herself a dual citizen and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, gives voice to all five family members as they navigate the particulars of their respective circumstances. Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality of the undocumented in America, Infinite Country “is as much an all-American story as it is a global one” (Booklist, starred review).

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Anna
by Amy Odell

For the mom whose fashionable clothes are now yours:

This riveting biography of Anna Wintour captures the iconic Vogue editor-in-chief’s childhood in the 1960s, the origins of her passion for fashion, and the influence her father had on her career. Readers are invited to follow along as Wintour makes her way through the competitive, fast-paced magazine industry, where her ambitious, relentless personality helped her overcome every obstacle that arose. Journalist and author Amy Odell interviewed many of Wintour’s close friends and colleagues to compile this revealing portrait. –Emily Lewis

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Anna
Amy Odell

Bloomberg’s 10 Most Compelling Books to Put on Your Reading List This Spring

This definitive biography of Anna Wintour follows the steep climb of an ambitious young woman who would—with singular and legendary focus—become one of the most powerful people in media.

As a child, Anna Wintour was a tomboy with no apparent interest in clothing but, seduced by the miniskirts and bob haircuts of swinging 1960s London, she grew into a fashion-obsessed teenager. Her father, an influential newspaper editor, loomed large in her life, and once he decided she should become editor-in-chief of Vogue, she never looked back.

Impatient to start her career, she left high school and got a job at a trendy boutique in London—an experience that would be the first of many defeats. Undeterred, she found work in the competitive world of magazines, eventually embarking on a journey to New York and a battle to ascend, no matter who or what stood in her way. Once she was crowned editor-in-chief of Vogue—in one of the stormiest transitions in fashion magazine history—she continued the fight to retain her enviable position, ultimately rising to dominate all of Condé Nast.

Based on extensive interviews with Anna Wintour’s closest friends and collaborators, including some of the biggest names in fashion, journalist Amy Odell has crafted the most revealing portrait of Wintour ever published. Weaving Anna’s personal story into a larger narrative about the hierarchical dynamics of the fashion industry and the complex world of Condé Nast, Anna charts the relentless ambition of the woman who would become an icon.

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The Recovery Agent
by Janet Evanovich

For the adventurous mom: 

As a recovery agent, Gabriela Rose is used to helping others: she has reunited clients and companies with lost treasures, stolen heirlooms, and missing assets. But this time it’s her own family’s well-being that is at stake. As she navigates through the jungles of Peru, searching for the elusive Ring of Solomon with her ex-husband, you’ll start to feel the same drive for success that motivates Gabriela. In fact, you’ll feel like you’re the one who’s on the mission!

Read more of 7 Books That Make You Feel Like a Main Character

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The Recovery Agent
Janet Evanovich

#1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich returns with the launch of a blockbuster new series that blends wild adventure, hugely appealing characters, and pitch-perfect humor, proving once again why she’s “the most popular mystery writer alive” (The New York Times).

Lost something? Gabriela Rose knows how to get it back. As a recovery agent, she’s hired by individuals and companies seeking lost treasures, stolen heirlooms, or missing assets of any kind. She’s reliable, cool under pressure, and well trained in weapons of all types. But Gabriela’s latest job isn’t for some bamboozled billionaire, it’s for her own family, whose home is going to be wiped off the map if they can’t come up with a lot of money fast.

Inspired by an old family legend, Gabriela sets off for the jungles of Peru in pursuit of the Ring of Solomon and the lost treasure of Lima. But this particular job comes with a huge problem attached to it—Gabriela’s ex-husband, Rafer. It’s Rafer who has the map that possibly points the way to the treasure, and he’s not about to let Gabriela find it without him.

Rafer is as relaxed as Gabriela is driven, and he has a lifetime’s experience getting under his ex-wife’s skin. But when they aren’t bickering about old times the two make a formidable team, and it’s going to take a team to defeat the vicious drug lord who has also been searching for the fabled ring. A drug lord who doesn’t mind leaving a large body count behind him to get it.

The Recovery Agent marks the start of an irresistible new series that will have you clamoring for more and cheering for the unstoppable Gabriela Rose on every page.

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Photo credit: iStock / VeranoVerde

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