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Out of Warranty    by Haywood Smith order for
Out of Warranty
by Haywood Smith
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Smith takes aim at the American heath care system in this often-funny look into one woman's battle to cope with the rising costs of staying healthy.

It's only been a year since Cassie lost the love of her life. She's rattling around in her big house with nothing to do but pine for her husband and worry about her failing health. She eventually seeks help at the Fungal Institute and has her first consultation with Dr. Shamlan Patel - who thankfully is not another of the dozens of 'pompous ass' specialists she's been to see over the years. His diagnosis: Cassie has a 'rare genetic form of arthritis secondary to an immune deficiency and an extremely severe allergy to any form of yeast, mould or fungus'.

She's ecstatic! Finally, a firm diagnosis - she's not a hypochondriac after all! However, as Patel thoroughly outlines the cost of more tests, treatments and required lifestyle changes, the cash register in Cassie's head goes into overdrive. She'll be in the poor house within a year.

Jack Wilson is in the same predicament, despite having a much healthier insurance plan than Cassie. As they share waiting space in Patel's office week after week, Cassie forces grumpy Jack into conversations and eventually suggests he move into her house as a tenant. She's paid a small fortune to have it completely sanitized while Jack's rundown old farmhouse would never pass muster.

He decides that maybe he won't sit around waiting to die and agrees, under the condition that once there, she leave him strictly alone. Cassie's positive nature and incessant chatter grates on Jack's nerves on a good day, even if she is just trying to be nice. In fact, he decides, why not help her land a new husband so she might shower him with all that annoying Southern charm?

But after only a few weeks, and to his horror, Jack realises he actually likes spending time with Cassie. He offers marriage, strictly a business arrangement, he insists, since her health insurance and savings are nearly depleted while his would see them through a few more years. But how long their 'separate bedroom' stipulation will last is hard to say.

According to the author, there is actually a condition like Cassie's - in fact, Haywood Smith suffers from it and brings it to light with the help of two delightfully quirky characters. Cassie is a strong woman to put up with Jack, who's often downright rude. But her charm and caring nature eventually breaks through his curmudgeonly shell.

The story's ending was a bit abrupt, but overall I loved Cassie and Jack, especially Cassie's dreadful dating disasters.

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