An excerpt of Chapter 1 from Beth Harbison's When in Doubt, Add Butter (out July 17, 2012) is available on Heroes and Heartbreakers to members. Please sign in or register at right to read the full excerpt!
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.
When I was twelve, a fortune-teller at the Herbert Hoover Junior High School carnival said to me: “Gemma Craig, you listen to me. Do not get married. Ever. If you do, you’ll end up cooking for a man who’d rather eat at McDonald’s; doing laundry for a man who sweats like a rabid pig, then criticizes you for not turning his T-shirts right side out; and cleaning the bathroom floor after a man whose aim is so bad, he can’t hit a hole the size of a watermelon—” This man sounded disgusting. “—make your own money and be independent. Having kids is fine, but get married and you will be miserable for the rest of your life. I promise you, the rest of your life.” This chilling prediction stayed with me long after I realized that the fortune-teller was, in fact, Mrs. Rooks, the PTA president and neighbor who always gave out full-sized 3 Musketeers bars on Halloween, and that her husband had left her that very morning for a cliché: a young, vapid, blond bombshell. Mrs. Rooks had four kids, and at the time, I thought of her as really old, and I didn’t quite get why she cared so much if she was married anymore or not.
Please sign in or register at right to read the full excerpt of When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison.