Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: When in Doubt, Add Butter (Audio)

Summary: From the New York Times bestselling author of Shoe Addicts Anonymous and Always Something There to Remind Me comes a delicious new novel about the search for true love and all the ingredients that go into it.

As far as Gemma is concerned, her days of dating are over. In fact, it’s her job to cater other peoples’ dates, and that’s just fine by her. At thirty-seven, she has her own business, working as a private chef, and her life feels full and secure. She’s got six steady clients that keep her hands full. 

There’s Lex, the fussy but fabulous department store owner who loves Oysters Rockefeller and 1950s comfort food; Willa, who needs to lose weight under doctor’s orders but still believes butter makes everything better; a colorful family who may or may not be part of the Russian mob; an überwealthy Georgetown family; the picture-perfect Van Houghtens, whose matriarch is “allergic to everything”; and finally, a man she calls “Mr. Tuesday,” whom she has never met but who she is strangely drawn to. 

For Gemma, cooking is predictable. Recipes are certain. Use good ingredients, follow the directions, and you are assured success. Life, on the other hand, is full of variables. So when Gemma’s takes an unexpected turn on a road she always thought was straight and narrow, she must face her past and move on in ways she never would have imagined. Because sometimes in life, all you need is a little hope, a lot of courage, and---oh yes---butter. -- Macmillan Audio

I love to listen to audio books every morning during my workout. I've tried a variety of genres, but sometimes you just need some good old chick lit when you are gasping for air in the middle of a hot summer! One book that I recently listened to was WHEN IN DOUBT, ADD BUTTER by Beth Harbison. I feel in love with the cover of this book and those pastel-iced cupcakes just screamed comfort food for the mind.

WHEN IN DOUBT, ADD BUTTER tells the story of Gemma a woman in her late 30s who has become pretty successful as a private chef. That's not exactly the case with her love life, though. Gemma has her regular customers for each day of the week and the occasional catering job, but she doesn't have time to date or even socialize much with friends. That's okay with her though -- her job is what keeps her steady.

However, Gemma has a passionate, one-night stand with a guy she picked up at a bar and discovers that, while her job is great, she can't stop thinking about him. Unfortunately, she doesn't know his real name or even how to contact him. When there are unexpected consequences from her fling, Gemma finds that she has to face her past and make some plans for her future. Fortunately, she has her strength and determination (along with a little luck), and she's able to find true happiness!

WHEN IN DOUBT, ADD BUTTER is the first novel that I've read by Beth Harbison; and I can see why she's a best-selling author. It's part chick lit, part women's fiction, with a little bit of mom lit; and that makes it ideal for summer reading (or running!) And this shouldn't come as a surprise to you since Gemma was a personal chef, but there were lots of descriptions of food... mouth-watering food. This book is so geared towards women like me!

I don't know that I'd say I loved WHEN IN DOUBT, ADD BUTTER, but there were quite a few things that I appreciated about it. First of all, I really liked the cast of characters especially Gemma -- and I think that's extremely important when reading a book like this. She was a fantastic character who was very, very funny. In fact, there are a few scenes (one with a peacock!) that just cracked me up! But she was also a woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it. She was a hard-worker and definitely had her hands full with her quirky assortment of clients, but I appreciated how dedicated she was to making them quality food that met their expectations.

In addition, the supporting characters were fun. Gemma's clients were quite interesting... and good for a few laughs. She had a wide variety of clients -- from the fussy mother who had a restrictive diet and claimed she was allergic to everything, to mysterious Mr. Tuesday, to the obese woman who wouldn't leave her home, to the family of Russian Mob members. I appreciated Gemma's interactions with all of them and they definitely added to the quirkiness of the novel.

Another thing I really liked about WHEN IN DOUBT, ADD BUTTER was that it had a nice plot twist that caught me a bit off guard! While much of this novel was predictable (I think that often times comes with this genre), Ms. Harbison managed to keep so many of the characters and events fresh. And as far as the surprise goes... it was a definitely a good one -- both for Gemma and the reader. 

There is no doubt that this novel is fun and fluffy (just like the cupcake icing on the cover), but I'm happy to say that it also had some substance. Gemma was a very structured person and likes predictability (thus her comfort level with cooking and recipes!) She survived a pretty traumatic event from her teen years and was able to most past it (for the most part.) I liked how the author made this entertaining character complex (and also flawed) by showing how her past actions had a long-lasting effect on her current behavior.

The audio version of WHEN IN DOUBT, ADD BUTTER was read by Orlagh Cassidy. This is my first time listening to her narrate a book, but I'm pretty sure she reads all of the Beth Harbison novels in addition to THE POSTMISTRESS. While I wasn't familiar with her as an audio book narrator, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she is an actress whom I recognized from a number of television shows and commercials. I thought she did a great job of bringing Gemma to life, and she showed some variety in both the male and female voices as well as some the different accents. If you'd like to sample some of the audio book, here's the link.

WHEN IN DOUBT, ADD BUTTER is a fun love story that will make you laugh and also touch your heart. Recommended for fans of chick lit and women's fiction.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this audiobook.


Marg said...

This sounds like a fun read! I have requested it from the library and will hopefully get to it in time.

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like a lot of fun! I hope to listen to it soon.

Book of Secrets said...

Fun but with substance - sounds great!

Beth F said...

This does sound fun! Sometimes a light audio is perfect.