The Dysfunctional Test

Kelly Moran
The Dysfunctional Test
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Samhain Publishing
Release Date
September 2013
Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy

You are cordially challenged to a test of true love.

Growing up in her large, crazy Serbian family, Camryn Covic became an expert at shutting down her emotions in order to maintain her sanity. But when she loses her apartment, her job and her boyfriend all in one day, she hits her breaking point.

Worse, if her family finds out she's single again, her sister's upcoming wedding will be a disaster. The bride-to-be has a plan, though. A plan that involves an old friend, a pretend relationship…and the probability of ending up in a padded cell. This time for real.

Troy Lanske agreed to the crazy plan only because, when he was a lonely foster child, Camryn was his lifeline. But she isn't the idealistic girl he remembers. She's become so jaded that she doesn't even believe in love anymore.

He sets out to restore her faith in happily-ever-afters, but his plan backfires when the fake relationship begins to feel all too real. Falling for the one woman he can't have could mean losing more than just his honorary family. He could lose everything.

Warning: Contains a Playgirl-material hero and a woman who thinks she couldn't be any more wrong for him. Enter one "Big Fat Overly Romantic Serbian Family". Sit back and watch the magic happen. Enjoy!

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Sep 12, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
212 people found the following review helpful
There are some books that are so good that my first instinct is to urge readers to put this review away and simply start reading it. THE DYSFUNCTIONAL TEST is absolutely one of those books. Funny and insightful and stunningly, achingly romantic, this is one of the most moving and exhilarating books I've read this year and has quickly become one of my all time favorites.

Despite spending her whole life with her enormous, brash and slightly crazy Serbian family, Cameron Covic has never quite fit in with them. Consequently, she's developed a number of ways of hiding the stress, the hurt and the embarrassment they cause in hopes of keeping off the family's radar. But when she loses her apartment, her job and her boyfriend all in one day, even her fortified defenses aren't enough to deflect the pain.

To make matters even worse, her sister, the ever-perfect Heather, is about to get married, and Cameron knows the wedding will be a disaster if her family learns that she appears without her promised date. Desperate and thoroughly disheartened from her losses, Cameron agrees to Heather's crazy, reckless plan—-to secure her a fake boyfriend for the weeklong wedding preparations.

Troy Lanske could never deny Cameron anything. When he was dropped off at the Covic family home as a foster child years ago, it was Cameron who believed in him, who made him feel like someone, and who gave him a reason to hope in tomorrow. But when he sees how jaded she's become, he realizes that Cameron needs so much more than a pretend boyfriend, and that he wants much more from her than pretending. So Troy sets out to help Cameron believe in love again with a series of challenges: dancing in the rain, wishing on stars, all the kind of things that Cameron has ruled ridiculous.

But with Troy, Cam feels at last free to indulge a side of her she never knew existed and she revels in the idea of having Troy by her side for much longer than a week. And with each successful challenge, Troy realizes that his feelings towards Cameron have grown into something so much stronger than friendship, but losing her means losing the only family he has ever known.

Kelly Moran's sense of humor is delightfully wacky and she manages to make the most routine of family interactions into wonderfully memorable, often cringe-inducing scenes. Her supporting cast of aunts and uncles leap off the page in all their brazen glory. Though they often come across as nearly cruel, Ms Moran is smart enough to show how deep and fierce they all truly love each other beneath the teasing and the bantering. As the wedding weekend continues, she is also careful to show the evolution of their interactions with Cameron, yet another effect of Troy's campaign. Amidst the chaos, there are moments of such stark, simple love that it took my breath away, even as I couldn't help but laugh.

The real magic of this book, however, is in the relationship between Cameron and Troy. They are so beautifully balanced and their connection is so touching that it becomes something absolutely transformative and unforgettable. On paper, they are the most unlikely of couples—-a playboy construction worker and a self-effacing, uptight perfectionist; an abused, lonely boy with a girl who has lived her whole life in the bosom (and at the mercy) of her family; a man who hides his pain by laughing his way through life and a woman who has lost her smile.

Nevertheless, it is in each other that Cam and Troy find their meaning and their true sense of self. From the day they met, these two shared a special connection, and as the details of their shared history emerge, it not only solidifies their bond, but also explains the hesitation they both feel over their evolving relationship. The fears are real, both of them confronting their feelings about each other and dealing with their insecurities about themselves, but so is the desire and the need that sparks between them. These characters are so fabulously real and vulnerable and perfect together that their physical scenes become something much more than sex, and their silly escapades carry the emotional weight of a great revelation. It's impossible to do justice to a match this phenomenal, so I urge you to read this one for yourself.

This was by far one of my favorite romances of the year, if not of all time. The bond between the main characters, the wonderment of their developing love and the bright, brash humor that is laced through every scene is simply extraordinary and the recipes included allows readers to bring a piece of the magic to their very own kitchen. I can't recommend this story more highly and will read anything Kelly Moran writes with joy!
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