You Didn't Know Me Then (Riviera View Book 2) by Lily Baines
You Didn't Know Me Then Book Cover You Didn't Know Me Then
Riviera View Book 2
Lily Baines
Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Independently Published
March 7, 2022
Kindle, Paperback

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's 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.

Opposite polarities do attract!

Lily Baines returns us to the quaint northern California coastal town of Riviera View and her Riviera View Series in her new release You Didn’t Know Me Then. We met Jordan and Hope briefly in You Didn’t Love Me Then and while their story orbits through this same world and among the same relationships it is easily read as a stand-alone. While Hope and Jordan know the same people and town, they are strangers to each other, as Hope moved to the area after college with her husband by the time Jordan had already relocated to Washington DC with only sporadic visits to family. As fate usually has it, the timing of their meeting, with regards to where their lives were at that moment, is the key to their instant attraction. Even though they would have never connected years before, its those past lives and the baggage that comes with it which may very well stand in the way of a future together.

“She made herself seem – maybe even thought of herself as – a simple, small-town school teacher. But she was so much more to him. He found himself looking up to her, admiring her, wanting that elusive, unscathed quality in her, that genuineness, that agenda-less goodness to rub off on him.

Lily Baines demonstrates again in You Didn’t Love Me Then her ability to create flawed and relatable characters who find each other in unexpected but whirlwind conditions. Hope and Jordan have never had genuine relationships where they were loved and desired for who they were. Hope’s narcissistic ex-husband had battered her self-esteem to the point where she doubted someone like Jordan would even want her. But for Jordan, Hope’s unpretentiousness and wholesomeness is a breath of fresh air from his world of calculated and constructed personas that have left him feeling empty inside. Together they experience completeness and a combusting attraction they never imagined finding.

“She missed him, and not just with her body. Her soul missed him – his presence, his dry humor, the sun of his real and metaphorical gaze on her that illuminated parts of her that had long ago dimmed.”

I really enjoyed the escape Lily Baines provides in the Riviera View Series and this new installment, You Didn’t Love Me Then. It’s an entertaining and engrossing story that is easy to read and flows effortlessly from page to page. One of my favorite parts was how Hope, a science teacher and mom of two young girls, talked incessantly when she was nervous and used chemistry and analytical observation as a way to function in life. This quality led to some very humorous interactions between not only Hope and Jordan but also Hope and her two best girlfriends. These light-hearted moments in a conjunction with a whirlwind and passionate romance were the perfect combination to make You Didn’t Love Me Then such an endearing book, one you will definitely want to read.