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When in Doubt, Add Butter

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  8,002 Ratings  ·  1,009 Reviews
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 h
Hardcover, 338 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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The Cupcake Queen by Heather HeplerIt's Raining Cupcakes by Lisa SchroederSprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlayComfort Food by Kate JacobsIf You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Cupcakes on the Cover!
7th out of 139 books — 108 voters
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Foodie Novels
15th out of 183 books — 133 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 26, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it
What I hope to find (and what will get me to spend my money quicker and invest hours upon hours of my own time) when I pick up a book is one that doesn’t sound like 95 out of 100 books that I pick up and read the first few pages of, a voice that grabs my nose and yanks harder than a semi-truck in the middle of I-95.

WHEN IN DOUBT, ADD BUTTER is such a book, and it managed this feat admirably from the very first sentence of the very first page. “When I was twelve, a fortune-teller at the Herbert H
Love Fool
Mar 17, 2015 Love Fool rated it really liked 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.
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
Aug 30, 2014 Aditi rated it liked it
Shelves: my-reviews
Another cheesy-breezy chick-lit novel. Its fun, light, witty and no doubt, mind-blowingly delicious(literally, from its cover to its tid-bits). "When in Doubt, Add Butter" will remind you more of Catherine Zeta-Jones movie "No Reservations".

Its about Gemma, who's in her late 30s, having no life of her own, works as a personal chef for five different clients. She enjoys catering for parties in the weekends at a country club. One day she gets fired by one of her clients, as a result getting a rar
Jun 06, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
**review includes mild spoilers**

If I could, I'd give this book 2.5 stars. It was OK, not terrible, but not great either. Gemma is a 37 year old private chef in DC and the book covers her relationships with her clients (one for every night of the week) as well as her relationships outside of work (her cousin Penny, friend Lynn, and her dating interests.)

This is obviously chick-lit, so I tend to have lower expectations for these kinds of books - nothing heavy, just light and engaging. I did zip r
May 09, 2012 Amy rated it liked it
When a book shows up at my doorstep (a Goodreads ARC) with colorful cupcakes on the cover, it has a lot to live up to. When that cover also uses the word “Butter” in the title, whoa, that’s raising the bar even higher. As a chick-lit novel, this book does live up to both those cover points as a tasty confection to inhale curled up in bed.

The book focuses on Gemma Craig, personal chef, with all her personal foibles. She is a somewhat stereotypical late 30s single woman, bemoaning her lack of rel
May 16, 2012 Lorretta rated it it was ok
I received this through GoodReads Giveaways.

I read chick lit only occasionally, but I do enjoy it for quick reads on trips or in hotel rooms.

I wanted to really like this book because of the potential food descriptions and recipes. Alas, there was only miniscule description of food and zero recipes. How can a character boast that she makes the best meatloaf and then not provide a recipe?

The main character Gemma Craig starts off very likable and has an engaging way of describing her clients and t
Apr 08, 2012 Roberta rated it did not like it
Send Back this Chicken Soup
(note: contains mild spoilers)

America, land of many appetites: Americans do love their food, and when they’re not eating, they love looking at cooking shows or reading about food. I am no exception, and as a chronic dieter, seek vicarious living through scrumptious food writing, so I considered myself fortunate to receive an Advance Reading Copy of Harbison’s book. (After all, who with a pulse doesn’t love butter?) I was anticipating something along the lines of Choc
Allie Smith
Sep 11, 2012 Allie Smith rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-chicklit
Really, a 3.5. I thought this was an interesting book. I bought it because Beth Harbison wrote it (I LOVED Always Something There to Remind Me) and let’ face, the cover is gorgeous! My kids thought it was a cookbook and kept asking me when I was going to bake them cupcakes. The heroine, Gemma, is a chef, so there’s quite a bit of food and cooking throughout the book - don’t read it when you’re hungry. Foodies, who love a good story, will be thrilled.

Gemma is a personal chef for five different ho
When in Doubt, Add Butter is an airy, happy story where the bad things are uncomfortable but not too bad, and the good things are easy and happy. I think this book is less of a beach read, but a better choice for a rainy day or when you need something to cheer you up.

When in Doubt, Add Butter follows the life of Gemma, a personal chef, for a few months. Having tried other careers, Gemma has found happiness in her passion for cooking and running her own business. Unfortunately, many of the people
Aug 12, 2015 Beyza rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kitabımızın orijinal adı: When Doubt, Add Butter (Şüphe Duyuyorsan, Tereyağı Ekle - syf. 173)
İsmi zaten içeriğine göz kırpan şirin bir şey, niye orijinaline sadık kalmazlar hiç anlamıyorum! Bulduğunuz da bir şeye benzese bari; ben bile daha uygununu buldum: “Hayırlısı Be Gülüm!" ;)

Okumak isteyenler için içeriğinden bahsedecek olursak;
Gemma -otuz yedi yaşında- haftanın her günü farklı kişilerin evlerine giderek çalışan özel bir aşçı. Aşk hayatından yana nasibini almış; yani herhangi bir beklentis
Apr 22, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing
I am not sure if I am happy that I waited this long to enjoy this book or sad that I didn't read it sooner. Either way, I found a really great gem in my to read stack!
Connie N.
I'd rate this 4.5 stars, but because I have such a feel-good feeling about it, I'm rounding up to 5 stars for Goodreads. What a warm and charming chick-lit. Gemma is a private chef who has a different regular client each day of the week, and we get to know each of them as we get to know her. She's intelligent, funny, and a strong nurturer who does a great job of creating menus for the different lifestyles and preferences of each of her clients. We meet the Van Loudens--extremely picky and uppity ...more
Jul 14, 2014 Lindsay rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 21, 2012 Erin rated it it was ok
I get really frustrated by books like this, that seem so cobbled together that you wonder if anyone actually read the final product before releasing it. It wasn't terrible, but the lack of attention to detail, even in a lighter read, really bothered me. Early on, the main character mentions that she delighted her mother by taking a corporate job with benefits at age 26. A few chapters later she mentions that she lost her mother to a heart attack shortly after her 22nd birthday. Really? No one ca ...more
May 15, 2012 Brenda rated it did not like it
At first, I really liked the heroine of When in Doubt, Add Butter. She was quick, sassy, and self-deprecating. She owned her own business and took care of herself. She had the potential to be a really interesting character but then the plot sabotaged her and made her into an unlikable idiot. About a third of the way through, quick and sassy Gemma became stupid and whiny. I couldn't actually believe how stupid she became. I mean she wasn't living in an Agatha Christie novel. Every major plot twis ...more
Marathon County Public Library MCPL

Private Chef Gemma Craig has given up on dating. Instead, she focuses on her steady catering clients: The Russian family, the high-maintenance society wife, the food-allergy obsessed housewife, "Mr. Tuesday" and the asexual businessman. Each client has their own quirks, but each brings Gemma some degree of satisfaction. When that begins to fall apart, Gemma goes out with her friend and ends up with a one-night stand that will change her life.

The characters are engaging and well developed and th

Apr 19, 2012 Amanda rated it liked it
I tend to have different expectations of books I read from the chick-lit genre. I like these books to be light and fluffy, expect to read about ridiculous and unrealistic situations, expect nothing truly bad to happen, and expect that everything will all turn out okay. Basically, I want to read them on the beach with a smile on my face and a willingness to set them down and do other vacation stuff. Based on these expectations I enjoyed When in Doubt, Add Butter.

- I enjoyed reading abo
Apr 12, 2012 Carrie rated it it was amazing
I won this ARC copy through the First Reads program and couldn't have been happier to read it! I've read 2 other books by Beth Harbison that I was partial to due to the writing. But this one was a truly fun read. I was hooked after the first chapter...and that is due to the hilarity that ensued.

Gemma Craig (no relation to Jenny Craig) is a personal chef who works for an array of families in the DC area. One is a cast member of a reality show (similar to the RHO franchise), another has some of t
Jill Marie Hackett
Apr 18, 2012 Jill Marie Hackett rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: chicks
I LOVED this book! I almost NEVER read romances but this one was just absolutely perfect in every way and I enjoyed it so much. Gosh, I feel like such a gooey little girl with rose-colored glasses and too much sugar in her veins but it was just so good!

It's so refreshing to read a book written by someone who honest to god knows how to write and tell a good story. If you're looking for a read that you can trust to have a happy ending and will fulfill all your expectations, this is the book for yo
Jun 02, 2015 Cyndi rated it it was ok
Ok book. Could have used a murder. If he had killed his wife, instead of sleeping around, Gemma could have had Mr. Tuesday for her lawyer. Better "meet-cute" than a hallway.
Lauren Bowman
Feb 11, 2014 Lauren Bowman rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, romance
Originally from http://thebittersweetbookworm.wordpre...

Contrary to most of the reviews that I read about this book, I liked it. I didn’t love it or think it was a super fantastic novel, but for a light read it was perfect! It was carefree and sweet and exactly what I needed for today, because I was avoiding studying and classes were cancelled due to icy roads.

I absolutely loved this line: “There you are, all ready to pass Go and collect two hundred dollars, and suddenly Colonel Mustard is trapp
Gemma works as a private chef on the weekdays and does catering for special events on the weekends. Her life isn't exactly what she pictured at 37, but she's just trying to get through it as best she can. After losing one of her jobs, she heads out for some drinks and a good time. She meets an attractive man. Sparks fly and they have an amazing night together. All this ends the next morning as reality hits. She must seek other employment options to keep afloat financially. Suspiciously she start ...more
Ciji W
May 20, 2012 Ciji W rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jo Anne B
Aug 29, 2012 Jo Anne B rated it liked it
I really enjoyed is book. It was so fun and light-hearted which reminded me of the whimsical Donut Shop books. I thought the premise of this book was original and that is hard to find in these kind of books. The main character is a private chef which was very interesting to read about. I would love to have one of these and only thought celebrities and rich people had them. In this book, regular people were her customers. Some did have peculiar requests and it did shed some insight into the life ...more
Oct 08, 2012 Sara rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult-lit, audiobook
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 09, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book from a Goodreads first-reads giveaway.

When In Doubt, Add Butter is the story about a personal chef, Gemma Craig (not to be confused with Jenny Craig!) and the quirky people who she cooks for. When Gemma was 12 years old, she was told by a fortune teller to never marry because she would be miserable for the rest of her life. The fortune teller ended up being a disgruntled teacher dressed up, but when the story opens, Gemma is 37 years old and has never been married. She works for
Apr 28, 2012 Cheryl rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
When in Doubt, Add Butter is about Gemma Craig, a thirty-seven year old personal chef and the things she goes through working for a wide variety of clients, while trying to keep her head financially above water and have some semblance of a life.

I won this on Goodreads and I’ll admit the cover is what made me check it out (well played, art department) and when I looked at a couple of reviews, I thought that it would be a mostly light chick-lit type book about a personal chef and her clients. For
Angela Risner
Oct 19, 2012 Angela Risner rated it it was amazing
Beth Harbison's writing can be hit (Shoe Addicts) and miss (Hope in a Jar), but thankfully this is definitely a hit.

The story follows Gemma, a private chef who cooks for a different client every day. Gemma is single and 37, thus she is what Jane Austen would call a spinster without much hope. She doesn't see herself as anything special.

Gemma's clients run the gamut from Snooty McSnootertons to Mr. Tuesday Night (whom she's never met in person) to possible members of the Russian Mafia. When she l
May 17, 2012 Julia rated it it was amazing
I received this book through Goodreads Giveaways. Thanks for the advanced copy!

When in Doubt, Add Butter falls into the chick lit genre. I really enjoyed the book despite my initial book cover judgement (The cupcakes looked good, but I thought the novel itself would be boring. I thought it would be one of those typical "this is my recipe" at the beginning of every chapter let me relate it to my life kind of books -- it's not.). The various characters Gemma cooks for are interesting, and I love t
May 19, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, arcs
I received this book through Goodreads Giveaways.
I was excited to jump into the world of baking and love. Turns out, main character Gemma Craig is not a baker of cupcakes, but rather a personal chef. I enjoyed meeting all of the crazy families and personalities that she cooks for each week. Many of them seemed so real and interesting. Gemma was a relatable protagonist but at times she could be whiney and come off a little immature. (A 37 year old woman needs to think about savings!) I loved the
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Beth Harbison grew up in Potomac, Maryland, in the shadow of Washington, D.C. Apart from the occasional irritation at being held up in traffic by a presidential motorcade, she has remained fairly uninvolved in the politics that define her home town. Her latest novel, ONE LESS PROBLEM WITHOUT YOU, comes out July 26, 2016.

More about Beth Harbison...

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“No one promised life would be easy or that the game wouldn't change without warning. There you are, all ready to pass Go and collect two hundred dollars, and suddenly Colonel Mustard is trapped in the conservatory, ranting and raving and waving a wrench, and no one knows what exactly a conservatory is or why anyone thought a wrench - of all things - would be a good murder weapon, or what branch of the military Colonel Mustard even served in! Has anyone seen his credentials?” 7 likes
“Well, you get my point: You've go one life with zero guarantees, so you do your best, adapt if possible, and keep on breathing. I recommend striving for happiness, but many opt for duty and responsibility. Mileage varies.” 7 likes
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