Title: Deja Date (Better Date Than Never #9)
Author: Susan Hatler
From Goodreads: "Melinda Morgan commits to running her favorite neighborhood bakery when the owner, who’s like a second dad to her, falls ill. Then she finds out his adventurous son, Nate Carter, is back in town. Nate was Melinda’s first kiss and greatest heartbreak all rolled into one, yet he’s still as charming as ever.
When Melinda learns Nate’s dad is selling his bakery, she realizes her dream to own the bakery herself. But in order to access her inheritance funds, she must first complete her father’s Carpe Diem list, which challenges her to take risks she normally wouldn’t—like only dating someone who leaves her breathless.
Nate wants a second chance with her and she finds him nearly impossible to resist. Could he be the key to completing her dad’s list and saving the bakery? And can he help her do both without breaking her heart all over again?"
My Opinion: I didn't realize when I requested this book through NetGalley that it was the ninth book in a series, but luckily, it could stand alone, too! I enjoyed it so much! I loved the characters, who were flawed and realistic. I loved watching Melinda open her heart to people, even though it seemed like it almost physically hurt sometimes. I know that feeling, and Susan Hatler captured it perfectly!
Melinda starts out getting fired from her customer service job, which she absolutely hated, and agreeing to take on the manager position at Bernie's Bakery, both to help out Bernie who is having problems with his health and needs to take a break, and also because some of her happiest teenage memories are when she worked there. Enter Nate, Bernie's drop dead gorgeous son, and Melinda's first love, and the first man to break her heart when he just disappeared when they were teenagers and she never heard from him again, until now. Unfortunately, she has completely closed off her heart to him to avoid getting hurt again and nothing Nate does can change that. She is also still grieving the loss of her father in a hot air balloon accident when she was 14, and because of that she refuses to take a chance on anything that might break her heart.
When Bernie's Bakery comes up for sale, Melinda decides to take her inheritance from her father, which she has refused until now, to buy the bakery since she realizes that would really make her happy. This is when her mother finds a letter that Melinda's father wrote to her naming the conditions that she must fulfill in order to receive her inheritance - he calls it her Carpe Diem list.
I loved watching Melinda make friends, even though that was scary because she always felt that she didn't measure up to the other girls, and basically just allowing herself to be happy.
In summary, even though I haven't read the other books in this series, I absolutely adored Deja Date, and I have made it my Carpe Diem list to read the other eight books in the series! This is a short story and reads very quickly. The characters grow from beginning to end and the pacing of the story is perfect. I would recommend this book enthusiastically to any lovers of contemporary romantic fiction, and give it a very happy 5 stars :D
I received a copy of this book free of charge through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.