When I reviewed M.A. Binfield’s debut novel, One Small Step, in December 2019, I wrote that at first it was a bit too much tell, not enough show then got a lot better, which made it very promising. Not This Time doesn’t have this problem at all and finds its pace right from the start.
The story begins with Sofia and Maddie wondering if their relationship can survive Sofia leaving the girl band they form with two other women. Sofia wants to try her luck on her own, but part of her motivation is the chance to live their relationship openly. Five years later, Sofia, now 32, is a star in her own right but clearly on the edge of burnout. Her fake boyfriend’s possessiveness isn’t helping. As to Maddie, she’s back in Miami with her toddler. She’s not in the music business anymore and has become an interior designer. And guess who needs a designer for her new house?
Not This Time is a pretty exciting second-chance romance. Five years after their breakup, both women still feel betrayed and let down by the other, and it will take more than one chance meeting for them to be able to trust again. Yet at the same time, the pull, the chemistry haven’t changed.
I loved how the author wrote the characters’ journey back to each other. It never feels forced, the miscommunication that is usually annoying in lesfic is justified by their common history, the chemistry is palpable because the love is undeniable. There’s character-growth too, especially on Sofia’s part. Maddie is too worried about what the consequences of taking a chance would have on her son to be very flexible and it’s absolutely understandable. Sofia, on the other hand, is ready for a big change in her life. The freedom she thought she would find by going solo never materialized and she’s more than ready to finally take charge of her own destiny. Finding Maddie again is just the incentive she needed.
If there’s one thing that’s never in doubt between Sofia and Maddie, it’s chemistry. Every time they’re in the same room, it’s there. You just know that when they finally allow themselves to do something about it, they’ll combust.
There are also pretty good secondary characters. Noah, the fake boyfriend, made me cringe quite a few times. Sofia’s mom too, for different reasons. I liked how Sofia’s manager evolved. Maddie’s son Matteo is adorable, and I really enjoyed her relationship with her sister and with Daya, her former bandmate.
After a promising debut novel, M.A. Binfield firmly establishes herself as an author to watch out for.