The best books about family drama and romance

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing about motherhood, family, love, loss, and finding yourself for over fifteen years. I have been a journalist, wife, mother-of-three-boys (yes, that’s one word), aerobics teacher, puppy wrestler, and novelist. Being a novelist is by far the hardest job but it’s the most rewarding. (OK, boys, no – motherhood is really.) I enjoy reading stories about family, love, and relationships in all their guises, good, bad, and messy, just like life – and I’m keen to write stories that readers will remember too. My latest book is about two sisters who, after a car crash, are affected differently, yet both are on a journey for the truth. 

I wrote...

Everything Has Changed

By Kendra Smith,

Book cover of Everything Has Changed

What is my book about?

One car crash. Two sisters’ lives changed forever.

Victoria’s new world baffles her: she has adorable 10-year-old twins, right? Wrong. Her babies have grown into sulky teenagers – amnesia from a car crash has stolen nearly six years from her and she’s woken up a stranger in her own life. With a now-frosty relationship with her husband James, maybe this collision is a chance to start over with those she loves most. Meanwhile, sister Lulu appears to have escaped the crash unscathed, but the accident has been a catalyst for unearthing the demons from her past, and they’re dragging her deeper into the bottle. Seeking refuge in a relationship that doesn’t quite fit, Lulu knows things can’t continue as they are. Do these two sisters have the courage to re-write their past and face their future?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of I Don't Know How She Does It: A Comedy about Failure, a Tragedy about Success

Kendra Smith Why did I love this book?

If there was ever a book that inspired me to write, it’s this!

Pearson captures the push-pull of motherhood and trying to have a career and the fragile relationship with Kate Reddy and her husband so well.

This book ‘talked’ to me as a mother and journalist and was one of the most ‘real’ books I’d ever read about family dynamics and having young children.

Kate Reddy is a fund manager and a mother of two who is trying to survive in a man’s world. Only she’s a woman! Loved it.

By Allison Pearson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked I Don't Know How She Does It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The prequel to How Hard Can It Be?

Meet Kate Reddy, fund manager and mother of two. Always time-poor, Kate counts seconds like other women count calories. Factor in a manipulative nanny, an Australian boss who looks at Kate's breasts as if they're on special offer, a long-suffering husband, her quietly aghast in-laws, two needy children and an email lover, and you have a woman juggling so many balls that some day something's going to hit the ground.

In an uproariously funny and achingly sad novel, Allison Pearson brilliantly dramatises the dilemma of working motherhood at the…

Book cover of Apples Never Fall

Kendra Smith Why did I love this book?

I have absolutely loved all of Liane Moriarty’s books (although NPS may have been too many POVs) and her dry wit.

This one encapsulates the stories of all the members of the Delaney family from their POVs and I especially related to Joy – the matriarch of the piece. The romance was there in this novel (between Joy and her husband amongst others); you were left wondering will they, won’t they – but the themes also verged on domestic noir/mystery.

The whole cast provided differing accounts of the same event, whether told in the present or past. Lenses are so different depending on who is in the driver’s seat. Fascinating and real. 

By Liane Moriarty,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Apples Never Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

From Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, comes Apples Never Fall, a novel that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest.

The Delaney family love one another dearly―it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in…

Book cover of This Holey Life

Kendra Smith Why did I love this book?

A more measured read than the above two authors, but I loved it just the same and it tackles family dysfunction with humour and grace.

Vicky is a curate’s wife but she’s not as keen on finding God as her partner. She’s also a mother of three who has to deal with her brother coming to stay with his teenage son.

Written in diary style, you connect with Vicky’s struggles – sometimes they seem a bit far-fetched but you warm to the main character and have a few chuckles along the way. 

By Sophie Duffy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Holey Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sophie Duffy is a real find. Sharp as a tack. Laurie Graham

By turns deeply moving and funny, the narrative zips along in an appealing and spirited voice. Kate Long

 ... that was the point at which I should've put my foot down. Stamped it hard. Stopped the past repeating itself. But what did I do? I did what Mum used to do in times of crisis. I left the room and went to put the kettle on.' 

Vicky is a reluctant curate's wife, struggling to come to terms with her own bereavement and her husband's new-found faith. Then, one…

Book cover of Love Untold

Kendra Smith Why did I love this book?

Ruth Jones is a new author for me but she packs a punch with this family saga and story of four generations and their relationships.

I particularly identified with the matriarch and grandma (not that I am one!) in this, Grace, who is the all- seeing and all-knowing thread that knits the other family members together.

Told in mainly present day, the novel also time-slips back to the 60s to give another angle on the family dynamic – and dysfunction. One of the most outré of all the characters is Alys, a recovering alcoholic but some of the situations Jones has put her in will have you laughing.

I also love the minor character Soozi. Just read it to see what I mean.

By Ruth Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love Untold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*'Heartfelt, joyful, brave, utterly compelling' RACHEL JOYCE
*'I feel bereft now it's over' CLARE POOLEY
*'Ruth Jones at her very best' SARAH TURNER

The funny, moving and uplifting new novel from Ruth Jones, co-creator of Gavin & Stacey and author of the Sunday Times bestsellers Never Greener and Us Three.

Grace is about to turn ninety. She doesn't want parties or presents or fuss. She just wants to heal the family rift that's been breaking her heart for decades.

But to do that she must find her daughter Alys - the only person who can help to put things right.…

Book cover of One Plus One

Kendra Smith Why did I love this book?

I dare you not to love a Jojo Moyes book!

In this one, it’s part romance, part road trip, with a big dose of family drama... Jess is a single mum and Ed is a stranger who gives her and her two children a lift. But he doesn’t stay a stranger for long.

The characters grow on you and it’s quite a slow burn of a love story, but there are family dynamics that will have you tearing up as well as laughing out loud.

I enjoy Moyes’ more gentle writing about motherhood and love.   

By Jojo Moyes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked One Plus One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Giver of Stars

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can't afford to pay for. That's Jess's life in a nutshell-until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess's knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has…

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The Woodland Stranger: A Fairy Tale with Benefits

By Jane Buehler,

Book cover of The Woodland Stranger: A Fairy Tale with Benefits

Jane Buehler Author Of The Ocean Girl

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Introvert Romantic Norm avoider Backyard birdwatcher

Jane's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Burne’s been hiding out in the forest since deserting the King’s Guard. Each time he tries to return to the village, he begins to panic. And then one day, he encounters a handsome stranger picking flowers and hides behind a tree instead of talking.

He wants to be braver—and he’s about to get another chance. Because the stranger is Gray, a fairy and master of illusions who’s now following Burne home. And Gray’s got more on his mind than talking. Would a fairy that beautiful ever want someone like him? Stranger things have happened.

The Woodland Stranger: A Fairy Tale with Benefits

By Jane Buehler,

What is this book about?

Whoever said, Don't talk to strangers?

Burne hid behind a tree. He wanted to talk to the handsome man picking flowers at the edge of the forest, but he'd only flub it if he tried-he'd stumble over his words and blush bright red. And now the man is gone.

He tries to continue on to the village, but the same thing happens as always: his hands start shaking and panic wells up inside him. What if he runs into the bullies who tormented him in the King's Guard last spring? Ever since he deserted, he has hidden out in the…

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