Guide to Katherine Center Books in Order

If you’ve been a Book Girls’ Guide reader for very long, you know that we always seem to connect with Katherine Center books. She writes excellent contemporary fiction books with realistically flawed characters facing challenging life issues, each with an uplifting message and a touch of romance.

We often see questions about which Katherine Center book someone should read first, or whether any of her books have connected characters or storylines. We’re here to answer those questions and give you a synopsis of each of her books in order of publication!

Five Katherine Center books standing side by side with pink flowers in front

Katherine Center Books

Below is a list of every Katherine Center book in order of publication. While we provided a synopsis of each book, be aware that each title goes deeper into the character’s life struggles than you may expect. If you are sensitive to any topics, be sure to check trigger warnings before reading any of her titles. We did not include trigger warnings for all the books as many would be spoilers.

Bright Side of Disaster book cover

Book Summary

Jenny and her fiancé Dean are starting a family a little earlier than planned. While she’s okay with that, he’s been getting more distant as her due date approaches. One night, he leaves for an errand and never returns.

Jenny’s plunged into single motherhood, which keeps her busy enough to distract her from her broken heart. Then, just as she’s getting the hang of everything and is becoming closer to her handsome and helpful neighbor, Dean reappears. But does she still want him back, or is she better off without him?

Everyone is Beautiful book cover

Book Summary

After fifteen years of marriage and three babies, Lanie’s family is making a big move from Texas to Massachusetts so her husband can follow his dream of being a musician. In the midst of leaving everything she knows behind, Lanie remembers that at one point, she had her own dreams.

When another mom accidentally criticizes her appearance, Lanie is determined to find her old self again. As she starts going to a gym, signs up for a photography class, and finds a new best friend, the ramifications threaten the comfortable life she’s known for the last decade.

Get Lucky book cover

Book Summary

Sarah suspects that some of the bad decisions she has made may actually be good decisions in disguise. After forwarding an inappropriate email to her entire company, she’s now jobless and has plenty of time to visit her sister, Mackie, in Houston for Thanksgiving.

When she arrives, Mackie has her own problems, she’s planning on selling everything she bought for her baby nursery after years of infertility. But this gives Sarah an idea that could fix everyone’s problems! Can the younger sister save the day and change her own luck along the way?

Lost Husband book cover

Book Summary

After the unexpected death of her husband, Libby and her two children moved in with her hypercritical mother. When her crazy Aunt Jean finds out about this, she offers Libby the chance to stay at her farm in the Texas Hill Country.

While the goat farm requires strenuous work, Libby also finds peace in the deep quiet of the country. Between the gruff farm manager, formerly-famous feed store clerk, and eccentric aunt, Libby realizes that family can look different than she expected. But this might be just what she needed to thrive again.

The Book Girls Say…

The Lost Husband was adapted into a 2020 Netflix movie starring Leslie Bibb and Josh Duhamel. Watch the trailer here.

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

96% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Helen is recovering from a miscarriage followed by a divorce. Her younger brother wants to help her heal, so he convinces her to attend a wilderness survival course in the Absaroka Mountains of Wyoming (pronounced “Ab-soar-kas”). She’s ready to take the time out to pull herself together, but then she finds out that her brother’s annoying best friend will also be on the trip.

In a period of three weeks, she’ll have to face both fears and annoyances, but through those experiences, she also learns more about herself and how to be brave.

The Book Girls Say…

This novel includes an element of contemporary romance mixed with an uplifting story of personal growth and discovery.

Katherine Center based this book (including the mid-summer blizzard) on her experience doing a month-long survival course in Wyoming while she was a college student. 

While we also enjoyed the Netflix movie version of this book starring Ellie Kemper, we were disappointed that it was not set in Wyoming.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center book cover

Book Summary

After a tragic accident immediately after becoming engaged, Margaret is stuck in a hospital bed trying to face her new reality. Her previously perfect life is changing in every way.

When she’s assigned the toughest physical therapist at the hospital, her nurse doesn’t think it will be a good match. Margaret understands when she realizes the other therapists are smiling and encouraging and Ian is…not.

But can he still help her heal?

The Book Girls Say…

This was the first Katherine Center book that either Book Girl read, and we were instantly hooked. We appreciate that it’s so real and raw but with a satisfying romance subplot.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 05/31/2024
Things You Save in a Fire Book Cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

96% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Cassie Hanwell was a firefighter in Austin and loved her job. But when her mother asks her to move to Boston despite their strained relationship, Cassie’s experience at the new fire house couldn’t be more different.

With a lack of funding, poor facilities, and an old-school hazing culture, the firehouse is not happy to have a woman join their crew.

The Book Girls Say…

As with most Katherine Center novels, this one does include an element of romance. However, in this book in particular, we feel like the romance is secondary to Cassie’s relationship with her mom. Additionally, this novel highlights how the role and treatment of women continued to evolve in the last decade.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 06/03/2024

Book Summary

This short story brings together Margaret from How to Walk Away and Cassie from Things You Save in a Fire, creating a bridge between these two novels.

It is a retelling of the first chapter of How to Walk Away told from the point of view of Cassie, the firefighter who saved Margaret’s life.

The Book Girls Say…

This short story is printed at the back of newer copies of How to Walk Away or you can read it on Katherine Center’s website here.

There are also two free ways to listen to this short story read by the author herself – on Google Play or Apple Books.

What You Wish For book cover

Book Summary

Samantha is a school librarian who loves her job at her current school and who has a bold zest for life…but she hasn’t always been that way. Duncan, the new school principal is very regimented and unwilling to stray from the rules…but he hasn’t always been that way.

Sam and Duncan have met before. They worked together at another school years ago, back when they were both very different people. When Duncan takes over as the new principal at Sam’s school, she’s shocked to discover that the fun-loving guy she remembers has turned into a completely different person – one she’s afraid will ruin everything she loves about her loving and welcoming school community.

As things spiral out of control, Sam and Duncan are forced to get real with one another and reveal the traumas from their pasts to save the school – and themselves.

The Book Girls Say…

The first few chapters of What You Wish For may have you convinced that you’ve picked up just another romance, but as the story unfolds you’ll find so much more.

Katherine Center’s writing captures the bittersweet struggles of real-life and the two main characters are each struggling with traumatic pasts. You’ll alternate between laughing out loud and reaching for the tissues, but this story is ultimately uplifting.

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Book Summary

This short story creates a bridge between Happiness for Beginners and What You Wish For.

This short story tells of the first meeting between Jake and Helen – the main characters from Happiness for Beginners. Told from Jake’s perspective, we hear his first impressions of Helen when he crashes her wedding at the age of 16. Jake is best friends with Helen’s younger brother, Duncan, who is the main character in What You Wish For.

Despite the fact that Helen is a year older than him (and in the process of marrying someone else), Jake never forgets that first encounter with her. This short story is narrated in turns by Duncan, Jake, and Helen.

The Book Girls Say…

This short story is printed at the back of newer copies of What You Wish For or you can read it on Katherine Center’s website here.

There are also two free ways to listen to this short story read by the author herself – on Google Play or Apple Books.

Bodyguard book cover

Book Summary

Hannah may look like a kindergarten teacher who could only wrangle young children, but she’s more dangerous than she seems. Her excellent skills as an Executive Protection Agent (aka bodyguard) just earned her a job protecting a superstar actor, Jack. He has some unlikely enemies – like a middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker and a brother who seems to hate him.

When Jack has to return to the family ranch in Texas during his mom’s cancer treatment, he doesn’t want her to find out about the stalker. This means she can’t know he needs a bodyguard to be safe. What could go wrong when Hannah has to pretend to be his girlfriend in front of his whole family?

The Book Girls Say…

While many of Center’s other books are best classified as contemporary fiction with an element of romance, this one is shamelessly romantic and swoon-worthy (but NOT steamy – any romance scenes are closed-door). She said that she wrote the book as her own escape during the pandemic, and wanted it to be lighter. We really enjoyed that it still felt like her writing, but with a bit more humor. However, she doesn’t totally depart from mixing in challenging issues, so the characters still feel real.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 06/03/2024

Book Summary

Sadie is a talented portrait artist, who is finally getting the recognition she deserves as a finalist in the North American Portrait Society competition. Before her death, her mom was a finalist in the same competition, so Sadie is full of emotions about the new painting she must produce as part of the contest.
However, in one moment, everything changes for Sadie. The only constant is her beloved dog, Peanut. With both her work and her family in chaos, how will Sadie overcome the hardest period in her life?

The Book Girls Say…

We kept our summary more vague than the publisher’s so you can be as surprised as the main character by some of her experiences. It’s rare a book provides a real surprise, and this one does it well.

Like Center’s other books, you get a mix of a main character with internal struggles, family drama, and some romance. However, these common pieces do not make her books predictable. They each have their own unique characters and setting. Hello, Stranger is no exception!

Don’t miss the author’s notes at the end for her thoughts on romance novels and the reasons they are so delightful!

New Katherine Center Book for 2024

Rom-commers book cover.

Book Summary

Emma has spent her life as an aspiring (and talented) screenwriter, but a past family tragedy keeps her in Texas as a full-time caregiver. However, when the opportunity of a lifetime is presented, it may finally be her chance to pursue the career of her dreams.

Emma’s screenwriting idol, Charlie Yates, has written his first romance script – and it’s terrible. His agent wants to bring in Emma to help with the rewrite, but there are problems. Charlie is cranky, he doesn’t work with co-writers, and he doesn’t believe in love.

Can Emma convince him that romance and love exist? And, can her younger sister handle caring for their dad while she is away?

The Book Girls Say…

Like Emily Henry, Katherine Center’s books bring a page-turning mix of humor, emotion, and serious chemistry between the characters. You’ll love and hate almost every character at different points because she writes in a way that makes you care about each one. Like the rest of us, they’re flawed humans who don’t always say the right thing.

While this is a rom-com by every definition, be warned that there are also enough meaty topics to make it a stellar book club pick. The final chapters are especially lovely, with a perspective on grief that is likely to trigger some reflection.

Do you need to read Katherine Center’s books in order?

No, each of Katherine Center’s novels reads as a standalone. Although she has written two short stories that bring together the characters from some of her books, these characters have no overlaps within the novels themselves (with one minor exception). As a result, her novels can be read in any order.

Center’s short stories (which are included in the book list above) are both written as prequels to her full-length novels, but are best enjoyed after reading their full-length counterparts because they provide further insights into the characters.

The Girl In the Plane brings together Margaret from How to Walk Away and Cassie from Things You Save in a Fire, creating a bridge between these two novels. And The Guy at the Wedding creates a bridge between Happiness for Beginners and What You Wish For.

Printable Katherine Center Book Tracker

Looking for a printable version of this chronological Katherine Center novel list? Our Buy Me a Coffee BFF’s have access to a cute printable tracker featuring the covers of all her novels, including her 2024 release, The Rom-Commers. Join our membership site today for instant access to your copy, along with some other fun perks!

Katherine Center printable book tracker

Are There Any Katherine Center Movies?

Two of Katherine Center’s novels have been adapted into Netflix films. The Lost Husband was made into a 2020 Netflix movie starring Leslie Bibb and Josh Duhamel (watch the trailer here). In 2023, Netflix released Happiness for Beginners staring Ellie Kemper and Luke Grimes. While we also enjoyed the Netflix movie version of Happiness for Beginners, we were disappointed that it was not set in Wyoming.

We would love to see more of Center’s books made into movies, although we strongly believe that the book is always better. If we hear any updates on future film adaptations, we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

About Katherine Center

Katherine Center always knew she wanted to become an author. She wrote her first novel in sixth grade, won a creative writing scholarship in high school, majored in creative writing at Vassar College, and won the Vassar College Fiction Prize. But the life of a writer is not an easy one, and it took a decade of struggles before she succeeded at publishing her first novel, The Bright Side of Disaster.

Like many of the characters in her novels, Center learned a lot from the experience of getting knocked down and getting back up again. Those lessons have certainly found their way into her writing.

Stack of Katherine Center books with one open to Katherine Center's author photo and bio

Center was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where she is now raising a family of her own. Her love of her home state comes through in many of her novels, including The Bodyguard, which she set on a ranch like the one her grandparents owned along the Brazos River west of Houston.

More Authors You’ll Love

If you enjoy Katherine Center, we think you’ll also enjoy novels by some of our other favorite authors, including Abby Jimenez and Emily Henry. Like Katherine Center, each of their books are a balance of romance stories with deeper topics.