Underrated Kindle Books You Need To Read, Based On Our Experience

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Whether it's romance books that BookTok has gone wild over or the five Kindle authors you need to be reading right now, the truth is that when it comes to selecting our next book to read, we often rely on reviews, top charts, editor's picks, and bestsellers. While there's nothing wrong with this approach — we get it, you want to invest your time and money wisely in a book that will definitely resonate with you — the practice of relying on ratings and record sales to dictate your next read may be robbing you of the opportunity to discover some hidden gems.

According to Toner Buzz, 500,000 to 1 million books are published every year, and if we take into account self-published authors, that number will rise all the way to 4 million — but only a mere fraction of these books make it to the top of the charts. Of those that do, even fewer will stay on top for more than a few weeks. Naturally, this leaves a whole wealth of books waiting to be discovered, and some genuinely magnificent ones will slip through the cracks and remain unnoticed.

With this in mind, we decided to put together a list of literary masterpieces that are underrated on Kindle but should be read nonetheless. We describe in more detail later how we chose each book in this list, but we made sure to several genres to cater to diverse reading tastes. 

Suspenseful romance in Victorian England: The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

"The Tea Rose" by Jennifer Donnelly is the first part in the romance trilogy, but can be read as a standalone book. Donnelly's skillful writing takes readers back to Victorian England and plunges them right onto the cobblestoned streets where Jack the Ripper terrorized the Whitechapel area. Amidst extreme poverty, harsh working conditions, and ludicrous work hours at the tea factory, Fiona Finnegan has no time to think much about the danger lurking in the dark alleys. She has a loving family and, of course, the love of her life, Joe, and she will soon become Mrs. Bristow. But her whole world is shattered when Joe chooses the prospect of a wealthy marriage over his love for her. Soon, Fiona realizes she must leave England, not only to forget all about Joe, but also to save her life.

Donnelly is an accomplished writer who even teamed up with Disney to write the bestselling "Waterfire Saga" series.  Nevertheless, "The Tea Rose" still has under 4,000 reviews (even after 10 years following its publication in 2014). Admittedly, her first epic historical romance novel has not received the recognition it deserves. Yet, the book has enchanted those lucky ones who have discovered it, with one riveted reviewer saying, "No doubt this book is a bit of an epic. The number of pages is probably a dead giveaway on that score. But, to tell the entire story, it needs to be. I will say that when I finished the book a few days ago, I was disappointed to see it end. I want to know what the next story is for Fiona and Joe. This book has it all."

Hot and steamy for fans of 50 Shades of Grey: Wicked Lessons by Siggy Shade

If you're looking for steamy books that will get your heart racing, then "Wicked Lessons" by Siggy Shade will not disappoint. The book, released in 2022, has only 990 reviews, but an average rating of 4.3 stars. One pleased reviewer said, "Wow, just wow ... I will definitely be re-reading this one, the spice and the story was chef's kiss."

When the protagonist needs money to pay for her tuition, she decides to take on a sugar daddy. She thinks she's found the perfect candidate in a fetish shop, only to discover that the tall, dark, ludicrously sexy man is actually her professor. Undeterred and eager to make him her own, she starts blackmailing him — but little did she know that the sexy professor has a few secrets of his own, and that she's in for more than she bargained for.

True to the path paved by global phenomenon "50 Shades of Grey," Shade's "Wicked Lessons" has it all — forbidden sex, a little bit of BDSM, a steamy student/professor relationship, and, of course, a slice of the underworld mafia hitmen in the mix. A smutty book that will keep you up all night? Check. But be warned, for as another reader said, "The amount of times I had to put it down and take a breath was insane."

A magical feel-good book: The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan

From bestselling author Ruth Hogan (you may remember "The Keeper of Lost Things") comes a lesser-known and highly underrated book that's so magical that we just had to include it in our list. "The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova" follows the story of Imelda Burova, a clairvoyant Tarot reader and palmist who has spent her life doing readings at the Brighton Pier. While she's ready to retire, she has one more task to complete before she can close this chapter of her life — she must deliver on a promise she made as a young girl, dreaming of a bright future that sadly never materialized. But as luck would have it, Billie, a recently divorced woman from London, comes knocking on Burova's door, looking for answers Imelda is unsure whether she should give.

Hogan weaves a truly enticing story that will captivate you from start to finish. Even though the book only has 853 reviews, its average rating is 4.4 stars. One enthusiastic reviewer wrote, "Beautiful story and well written! The author keeps everything interesting with a little romance, mystery, and fun! It is a lovely book and very enjoyable reading! I highly recommend this book!"

A riveting historical fiction novel: The Spirit of the Dragon by William Andrews

"The Spirit of The Dragon" is the third installment in the historical fiction trilogy by William Andrews. The books revolve around one of the lesser-known facets of WWII — the tragic story of Korean comfort women, young girls forced to become sex slaves for the soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army occupying Korea. The BBC reports that an estimated 200,000 women and girls were forced into prostitution, and the story was hushed until 16 of those surviving comfort women filed a lawsuit against Japan in 2016.

Andrews' book follows a 99-year-old Korean woman, Suk-bo Yi, who finds herself caught in the middle of a murder investigation. With a story to tell, Suk-bo decides she will only speak to international rights lawyer Anna Carlson. Starting her tale in 1937, when she was forced to marry a Japanese man, Suk-bo found herself unexpectedly in love, despite their stark cultural differences. When her husband, Hisashi, disappeared within the Imperial Army's ranks, she vowed to find him. Little by little, Suk-bo's epic love story unfolds for Anna, and as it does, the tragic history of the atrocities Koreans suffered during WWII comes to light right before the reader's eyes. As one reviewer said, "This historical fiction uncovers so many aspects of the horrific times Korea faced ... during the Japanese occupation. It personalizes the human suffering through the eyes of a young woman, Suk-bo, who meets up with love." Another reviewer chimed in: "[This] story should be in every history book."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Enemies to lovers, the plot that we love to hate: Bride or Die by Madison Score

Madison Score's "Bride or Die" is an enemies-to-lovers book that will make you a fan of the trope. Although the book only has 463 reviews, it's received high accolades by enthusiastic readers and an average rating of 4.5 stars. One enamored reader wrote, "This delightful debut by Madison Score has a bit of everything I love — a smart heroine, swoony romance, and a keep-you-wondering mystery ... While all the suspects were laid out for us at the perfect pace, I was still questioning which one was the actual culprit by the end, so super-sized kudos for keeping this suspense-loving junkie on my toes."

The story follows wedding proposal planner Claire Hartley as she teams up with the very hot — and very unlikeable — film producer, Luke, in planning her best friend's surprise proposal. When her ex-college roommate disappears, Claire takes matters into her own hands and decides to solve the mystery. However, she finds herself in too deep when she starts receiving mysterious threats and realizes that West Haven's suspected serial killer might be on to her. Is she in real danger? And what about the annoying filmmaker with the sexy six-pack abs that she can't stand — or stop thinking about?

If you love a good mystery but prefer it on the lighter side, this book will keep you guessing and laughing out loud at the same time. Underrated yes, but we don't expect it to stay this way for long!

A pulse-pounding, unexpected psychological thriller: The Marriage Counselor by Dea Poirier

While not the addictive thriller that Kindle readers are obsessing over right now, "The Marriage Counselor" by Dea Poirier should definitely be read by all psychological thriller aficionados. But you don't have to take just our word for it; the words of a riveted reader should be enticing enough: "WHAT did I just read!!!! WOW!!! I mean seriously wow!! ... My heart was in my throat ... An absolutely page-turning, addictive, gripping, and explosive must-read." The book's 920 reviews average out to a 3.9-star rating — though to be fair, a majority of reviewers gave a solid 5 stars. For fans of "The Wife Before Me," "The Perfect Marriage," and "Gone Girl," this is one book you won't want to skip.

The story follows a successful marriage counselor who fails to keep her own marriage alive. Even though she's a confidant and advisor to many couples — and the bearer of many secrets — she struggles to grapple with the skeletons she finds in her own husband's closet. Once he's left her, the facade of a perfect marriage crumbles to the floor.  Shattered, she discovers a hidden box of baby clothes in the closet and realizes that her husband has a second family out there. However, he's not the only one with secrets — nor does he know just what she's willing to do to protect her seemingly idyllic life.

How we chose our books

Choosing books that aren't on the top charts, spoken widely about on BookTok, or have thousands of reviews is not an easy task. The absence of these factors makes it difficult to pick books that are guaranteed to be liked, and underrated books can be a hit or miss. Consequently, we decided only to include books that we've read ourselves and which, of course, we liked. As such, we scoured our own Kindles and created a list of our favorites. Plus, we made sure to include books from various genres to accommodate diverse tastes.

Any book that had over 3,900 reviews was removed from our list. Ideally, we looked for books with 1,000 reviews or fewer. We then checked the ratings on these underrated to-be-classics for a minimum requirement of 3.9 stars. The good news? Our recommendations average out to a healthy 4.5-star rating. And even though we liked the book, we also wanted to ensure that other readers enjoyed it, too. So, checking reviewers' comments and seeing just how much they enjoyed the reading experience — and why — was the final component of our selection process.