92 books like A Useful Woman

By Darcie Wilde,

Here are 92 books that A Useful Woman fans have personally recommended if you like A Useful Woman. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Emma

Charisse Cooke Author Of The Attachment Solution: How to develop secure, strong and lasting relationships

From my list on how to create a great relationship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was fortunate enough to meet my husband over 17 years ago, and we have packed a lot of life in since then. Along with two kids and a dog, we’ve had our fair share of tough moments: financial challenges, bereavement, family issues, marital disagreement, and traumatic life events that taught me just as much as my two decades-long career as a relationship psychotherapist has. This, combined with working with individuals, couples, and partners in search of what love means and how to practically go about achieving it, has clarified for me just how much we all need tools and teachings when it comes to matters of the heart.

Charisse's book list on how to create a great relationship

Charisse Cooke Why did Charisse love this book?

Jane Austen would have made such a great therapist! Her razor-sharp observations, combined with profound insights into people and relationships, make this book an all-time favorite of mine. I love her descriptions of falling in (and out of) love and how fallible each of her characters is, reminding us of our humanity–especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

What also strikes me is how true it is that pride, image, and status can still play out in our more modern relationships today. This book feels very old-fashioned in places, but it warns us how easily we can hurt other people and damage relationships, sometimes irrevocably. There’s a lot to learn from Emma, and I enjoy seeing relationships depicted in fiction, where so much can be explored through a fascinating and absorbing story, too.

By Jane Austen,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Emma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Her masterpiece, mixing the sparkle of her early books with a deep sensibility' Robert McCrum, Observer

Although described by Jane Austen as a character 'whom no one but myself will much like', the irrepressible Emma Woodhouse is one of her most beloved heroines. Clever, rich and beautiful, she sees no need for marriage, but loves interfering in the romantic lives of others, until her matchmaking plans unravel, with consequences that she never expected. Jane Austen's novel of youthful exuberance and gradual self-knowledge is a brilliant, sparkling comic masterpiece.

Edited with an Introduction by FIONA STAFFORD

Book cover of Maisie Dobbs

Ellen Barker Author Of East of Troost

From my list on magical books for realists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write and read realistic fiction. I’m not a fan of fantasy, sci-fi, ghost stories, or magical (other than, you know, Tolkien). I don’t want to have to suspend a lot of belief and buy into an alternate reality. And yet, and yet. . . . All these books have a little element of something going on, and they each grabbed me and kept my attention, and I didn’t roll my eyes once. The supernatural is just a little extra kick and, in every case, as believable as it can possibly be. 

Ellen's book list on magical books for realists

Ellen Barker Why did Ellen love this book?

This book is about a private investigator in London in the early 1900s. It is the first of a long series about Maisie’s cases and the people who are dear to her.

This first book gives us an introduction to Maisie and her working-class background, the people who influenced her, and the way she uses her own version of second sight to understand both clients and criminals. Her description of Maisie mimicking someone’s body movements to figure out their motives actually made me try it out.

I also got a strong sense of London during the difficult years of wars and depression and a bedraggled peace. If you enjoy this one, you’ll have a nice backlog to return to whenever you need more.

By Jacqueline Winspear,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Maisie Dobbs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A favorite mystery series of Hillary Clinton (as mentioned in What Happened, The New York Times Book Review, and New York Magazine)
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Agatha Award Winner for Best First Novel
Macavity Award Winner for Best First Novel
Alex Award Winner

Fiercely independent Maisie Dobbs has recently set herself up as a private detective. Such a move may not seem especially startling. But this is 1929, and Maisie is exceptional in many ways.

Having started as a maid to the London aristocracy, studied her way to Cambridge and served as a nurse in…

Book cover of The Rose Code

Bruce Stachenfeld Author Of Faythe of North Hinkapee: The Saga of a Young Woman’s Quest for Justice and Love in Colonial America

From my list on irrepressible, exciting and heroic female lead characters that you will never forget.

Why am I passionate about this?

I made up Faythe of North Hinkapee by being a jerk! I was ranting about how bad a "best seller" book I had read was. My wife looked at me and said, "So, could you write a bestseller?" I was challenged, and then, somehow, this book just tumbled out. It was about a girl in Colonial Timesher family burned as witchesvowing vengeance and how she gets it. My wife looked at me and said: “My God, that could be a bestseller!’ My kids also loved the story. For about twenty years, I planned to write it, and after a ton of work, I finally finished.

Bruce's book list on irrepressible, exciting and heroic female lead characters that you will never forget

Bruce Stachenfeld Why did Bruce love this book?

I loved this book!

Three women, all different, all with amazing characters, decoding Nazi transmissions during WWII. I loved the women as their characters developed. And I admit I was chilled and fearful as to how it would turn out since the beginning (almost) tells you the end, but definitely not quite. So, I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Not a book I would want to start reading before a work deadline since I would probably be up all night and blow the deadline.

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Rose Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything-beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses-but she burns to…

Book cover of And Only to Deceive

Tracy Grant Author Of The Seven Dials Affair

From my list on unraveling the secrets at the heart of a marriage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been fascinated by stories about married couples, especially when there are secrets in the marriage. My series The Rannoch Fraser Mysteries follows Mélanie and Malcolm Rannoch, whose marriage began when Mélanie, a French agent, married British agent Malcolm to spy on him during the Napoleonic Wars. As the Rannochs investigate mysteries, they grapple with personal and political betrayals and the secrets between them. 

Tracy's book list on unraveling the secrets at the heart of a marriage

Tracy Grant Why did Tracy love this book?

I love this whole series, but what drew me to the first book was the story of a young widow unraveling the secrets of her late husband.

It’s poignant to see her only fall in love with him after he's gone. But at the same time it's fascinating to see her finding herself even as she learns that the man she was married to was far more complicated than she realized.

By Tasha Alexander,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked And Only to Deceive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author Tasha Alexander comes a stunning novel of historical suspense set in Victorian England, meticulously researched and with a twisty plot that involves stolen antiquities, betrayal, and murder

Lady Emily's first mystery . . .

For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was just an easy way to escape her stifling home life and overbearing mother. So when her new husband dies on safari soon after the wedding, she feels little grief. After all, she barely knew the man.

Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different…

Book cover of The Anatomist's Wife

Jennifer Kincheloe Author Of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

From my list on smart historical mysteries that start a series.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a public health research scientist who writes humorous historical mysteries set in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD. Like you, I read. I love smart, well-researched historical fiction with strong female protagonists and a good romantic subplot. Extra points if the book is funny because studies show laughter is good for you. 

Jennifer's book list on smart historical mysteries that start a series

Jennifer Kincheloe Why did Jennifer love this book?

Have you ever picked up a historical romance novel, attracted by the era, then read the book and said to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be great to explore other genres in this setting?” Then you need Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby mystery series. I picked up The Anatomist’s Wife at random from the library and was instantly confused. It seemed like the setting for a romance novel—1830s Scotland—but it’s first and foremost a mystery. Her characters are interesting and complex, the mystery is solid, and her beautiful prose elevates the genre.

By Anna Lee Huber,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Anatomist's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“A riveting debut…an original premise, an enigmatic heroine, and a compelling Highland setting…a book you won’t want to put down.”—New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister’s estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own…

Book cover of Frederica

Kathleen Buckley Author Of By Sword and Fan

From my list on navigating family and romance in the Georgian/Regency period.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved history and historical fiction since childhood and have been writing historical fiction/historical romance for about ten years. To give readers a sense of what life was really like almost three hundred years ago, I do extensive research: the weight of a 1717 French musket, the terrain where my story is set, and guardianship law, among other details. Titled men, gentlemen smugglers, and ballrooms are mostly absent because although they’re the stuff of daydreams, our most common problems center around family relationships. Making ends meet, difficult relatives, loyalty to family versus honor, or one’s own best interests or duty offer plenty of scope for conflict (and excitement and romance, too).

Kathleen's book list on navigating family and romance in the Georgian/Regency period

Kathleen Buckley Why did Kathleen love this book?

I hated having to put this book down to sleep, go to work, go back to work, eat, or whatever. I love Heyer's humor. After reading the book many, many times for its warm, feel-good story, I still laugh at some of the predicaments Frederica's adventurous young siblings fall into. And Endymion Dauntry, her silly sister’s cork-brained beau! 

Her writing style is polished and the dialogue is witty. The love interest is believable as is not always the case with romance novels. Accuracy in detail and depiction of the period is important to me, too, and Heyer delivers it. The story is engaging and fun without being silly, and as it’s an older book, it’s free of tedious sex scenes. It’s a feel-good story.

By Georgette Heyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Georgette Heyer's beloved tale of an entertaining heroine stumbling on happiness when her marital machinations for her sister go awry.

Determined to secure a brilliant marriage for her beautiful sister, Frederica seeks out their distant cousin the Marquis of Alverstoke. Lovely, competent, and refreshingly straightforward, Frederica makes such a strong impression on him that to his own amazement, the Marquis agrees to help launch them all into society.

Normally Lord Alverstoke keeps his distance from his family, which includes two overbearing sisters and innumerable favor-seekers. But with his enterprising—and altogether entertaining—country cousins chasing wishes and…

Book cover of Death Comes to Pemberley

Karen J. Hasley Author Of Claire, After All

From my list on women who have more on their minds than romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

The 17th and 18th- century female poets who were the focus of my master’s degree thesis in English inspired me to write several true-to-life historical novels with strong, intelligent, and engaging heroines. When I wrote Claire, After All, however, I needed and thought readers might welcome something more light-hearted. Life can be grim and the nightly news distressing. How about a break from all that drama? So as a longtime Georgette Heyer fan and as homage to her delightful romantic heroines, I created Claire Penwarren, a woman who loves her family, makes mistakes but fixes them, and eventually lives happily ever after. No soap boxes. No surprise endings. Just fun. 

Karen's book list on women who have more on their minds than romance

Karen J. Hasley Why did Karen love this book?

What do you get when you combine the great 20th-century mystery writer P. D. James and the great 18th-century social commentator Jane Austen? You get Death Comes to Pemberley, that’s what. Austen’s beloved Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice are happily married living at Pemberley with their children until along comes that dastardly George Wickham (also from P & P) who has the nerve to get murdered, leaving it up to Lizzy to figure out the culprit! A Regency whodunit is the best of both worlds.  

By P. D. James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death Comes to Pemberley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.
It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic…

Book cover of A Brazen Curiosity

Nancy MacCreery Author Of Andromache's Story: What Really Happened in Troy

From my list on stories that make you smile.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are many reasons to read, one of them is to escape from day-to-day life. As an avid reader and author of five novels, I think the ideal books for a mental getaway contain not only a good story and engaging characters, but also touches of humor. These bright spots can make you smile or even laugh out loud, heightening your reading pleasure. When I write, I try to give my readers a chuckle or two, like the books I’m recommending here. I hope you will enjoy them! 😊

Nancy's book list on stories that make you smile

Nancy MacCreery Why did Nancy love this book?

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the imagined food fight in the beginning of this cozy mystery that shines with social satire, witty tongue-in-cheek dialog, and situational humor. The mystery is entertaining and the characters of Miss Beatrice Hyde-Clare and the Duke of Kesgrave are both well developed and amusing.  

By Lynn Messina,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Brazen Curiosity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nothing ruins a lovely house party like bloody murder.

At the decrepit old age of six-and-twenty, Miss Beatrice Hyde-Clare has virtually no hope of landing a husband. An orphan living off her relatives' charity, her job is to sit with her needlework and to keep her thoughts to herself.

When Bea receives an invitation to an elegant country party, she intends to do just that. Not even the presence of the aggravatingly handsome Duke of Kesgrave could lead this young lady to scandal. True, she might wish to pour her bowl of turtle soup on his aristocratic head - however,…

Book cover of Silent in the Grave

Bob Burnett Author Of Death is Potential: A Kate Swift Mystery

From my list on mysteries featuring steamy romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

At one time, it was commonplace for male mystery writers to devote a substantial amount of plot to romance; for example, Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White or Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon. In recent years, this tradition has eroded to the point where romantic mysteries are primarily written by women. I think romance spices up mysteries. In Death is Potential, Kate Swift is more invested in solving the murder mystery because she is protecting her lover.

Bob's book list on mysteries featuring steamy romance

Bob Burnett Why did Bob love this book?

I like this series set in 1880s London. Julia Grey is trapped in an unsatisfying marriage to Sir Edward Grey. When he is poisoned, Julia gets an opportunity to restart her life.

She not only has to manage the estate left to her by her husband, but also deal with the murder of her husband. She retains a private investigator, Nicolas Brisbane, and develops a passionate attraction to this difficult man.

By Deanna Raybourn,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Silent in the Grave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Go back to where it all began with the original Lady Julia Grey historical mystery series from New York Times bestselling author of Killers of a Certain Age, Deanna Raybourn.

“Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.”

These ominous words are the last threat that Sir Edward Grey receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, he collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept…

Book cover of Why Kings Confess

Karen Hanson Stuyck Author Of Death of an Unfortunate Woman

From my list on strong women solving mysteries in Great Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up loving stories set in the 1800s. I read Little Women six times, determined to become a writer just like Jo March. Eventually, I became one, writing everything from newspaper articles to medical brochures, short stories, and nine mystery novels. I set my latest book in 1819 Regency England. The myriad rules governing every aspect of proper behavior for “gently bred women” meant that any female refusing to conform faced scandal and ostracism from society. Any woman who managed to forge a life of her own design had to be strong, determined, and feisty—just the kind of female I want to read and write about.

Karen's book list on strong women solving mysteries in Great Britain

Karen Hanson Stuyck Why did Karen love this book?

Unlike my other book choices, Why Kings Confess has a male protagonist, Sebastian St. Cyr. In my opinion, a very good historical mystery series got even better when Sebastian married Hero Jarvis, the brilliant and outspoken daughter of Sebastian’s mortal enemy, Lord Jarvis, a ruthless advisor to the crown. Hero writes searing investigative articles on societal injustice and, despite being heavily pregnant, participates actively in Sebastian’s work. In this book they investigate the brutal death of a man who was part of a secret delegation sent by Napoleon to determine the possibility of peace with Britain. The author is a historian who manages to seamlessly incorporate a lot of fascinating information about Regency England.

By C. S. Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Kings Confess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The gruesome murder of a young French physician draws aristocratic investigator Sebastian St. Cyr and his pregnant wife, Hero, into a dangerous, decades-old mystery as a wrenching piece of Sebastian’s past puts him to the ultimate test.

Regency England, January 1813: When a badly injured Frenchwoman is found beside the mutilated body of Dr. Damion Pelletan in one of London’s worst slums, Sebastian finds himself caught in a high-stakes tangle of murder and revenge. Although the woman, Alexi Sauvage, has no memory of the attack, Sebastian knows her all too well from an incident in his past—an act of wartime…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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