by Lily Baines
Publication: March 16, 2022
Series: Riviera View #2
Chemistry pulls them together. Falling in love might tear them apart.
Hope Hays, a divorced mother of two, has decided it’s finally time to test the waters in the dating world. Her first excruciating attempt at flirting combusts—the failed experiment even more humiliating as it is witnessed by a handsome stranger.
Political advisor Jordan Delaney swam with D.C. sharks until he bled. Now licking his wounds in his hometown, he is reluctantly intrigued by the quirky redhead chatting up a bartender with obscure chemistry facts.
In this small-town meetings are unavoidable and Jordan finds Hope’s awkward sincerity refreshing after the poker faces of politics. He falls for her the more he knows her, fearing she’d like him less if she knew him more. Hope falls for the man who makes her feel seen even though she’s certain someone like him would never want a single mother’s unglamorous life.
Their undeniable chemistry is an inflammable combination, but her scars and a secret from his past threaten to burn them both down.
‘You Didn’t Know Me Then’ is perfect for readers who love small-town, slow-burn romance, opposites attract, a relatable, everyday heroine, and the gorgeous man (inside and out!) who falls for her. It’s book 2 in the Riviera View series but can be read as a standalone.
It was the first time she had seen Jordan in a t-shirt and a pair of jeans, and by God, it didn’t make matters easier. All the muscles she had felt under his shirt with her eager palms when they had kissed, were now exposed and were in every way as mouthwatering as she had imagined they’d look. And just where the sleeve of his blue tee ended, over his left bicep, was a tattoo. A wave rising and curling in black and grey ink.
To battle her unwarranted attraction to him, especially in light of what had happened, she had told herself that he was just a slick-talking ivy league and ivy life champion who was circling way out of her orbit, crashed against her accidentally, caused a little earthquake, and regretted it immediately. But somehow a tattoo made him seem so … down to earth.
Silly as it was, it now became an intervening variable in her experiment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lily Baines is a mother, wife, and author (not always in this order). For 20 years she worked in Human Resources but kept writing to maintain her sanity and flow of creative juices. For the last 3 years Lily is dedicating her time to her 3 children, husband, family dog, bottomless laundry basket, full kitchen sink, and her writing. Her first book was published in 2020. This is her 6th book.
**I was provided a copy of the book by Give Me Books as part of the promotional campaign. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
I began You Didn’t Know Me Then with a guarded heart. I adore Lily Baines but was deathly afraid she would further shatter what was left of it. (See reviews for You Didn’t Love Me Then and A Case of Longing for how she broke me.) I should have known that if she could break it, she would also be able to mend it.
You Didn’t Know Me Then focuses on a different kind of love from the first novel. Luke and Libby’s relationship centers on unrequited love, a longing for, and in many instances fighting against, a second chance. Hope and Jordan’s romance, on the other hand, is about beginnings, moving toward a fresh start with someone new. It didn’t tug at my emotions in the same way–you know, hurting me so much that I wanted to throw the book across the room–nor was I drowning in a flood of emotions. Instead, I felt…grounded. Their relationship soothed me in the best way possible. It was two imperfect individuals falling in love with each other. Hope and Jordan’s romance mended the fractures of my heart before expanding it to twice its size. By the end of the novel, I felt whole.
As two individuals without a shared past, Hope and Jordan’s relationship unfurls within the pages of the book. Baines successfully conjures the nervousness and excitement that accompanies new love. I delighted in the accidental meetings and furtive glances even as I cringed alongside Hope at her most awkward moments. And when they shared their first kiss, my only thought was, “I wish first kisses were always like this.”
The romance didn’t sweep me off my feet, and I didn’t want it to or need it to. I loved the realistic depiction of their relationship. Their mutual attraction gradually transformed into love. They understood that a new beginning didn’t mean a blank slate. Being in a relationship meant they came with experiences, fears, and insecurities. It was the focus on these things that forced me to let down the walls I had erected to protect my heart. It was impossible to guard myself against someone like Jordan who loved every part of Hope, especially those parts of her that made her overly self-conscious. To know that he didn’t see them as flaws but an inextricable part of what made him love her was deeply moving. It wasn’t only Hope that was overcome with emotion when he confessed this. I was near tears because he even made me feel beautiful.
Their road to happily ever after is a bumpy one. There’s a lot that happens in the book, but every time I glimpse its cover or reread it, I will always remember one thing: I am enough exactly as I am. We all need a Jordan Delaney in our lives. Someone who doesn’t love us in spite of who we are, but loves us in our entirety. Someone who is reassuring, who banishes our insecurities by transforming them into a part of what makes us desirable. He reminded me that my flaws are part of who I am, and they contribute to what makes me beautiful. Luke may have broken my heart, but Jordan Delaney healed me.