Not Like Before
By Lily Seabrooke and Jacqueline Ramsden
Filming alongside a celebrity could be her ticket to love
Lola never wanted to be on camera alongside an A-list star—but maybe Mackenzie is everything she needs.
History professor Lola Barnes never cared about celebrities, and filming alongside superstar actress Mackenzie Vale isn’t exactly on her bucket list. But there aren’t a lot of experts on Mackenzie’s hometown on the remote Celadon Isles, so when the studio filming a deep dive of Mackenzie’s backstory comes knocking, no isn’t really an option.
This exposé is the last thing Mackenzie wants to do. She’s had a good run as an actress without the ravenous press finding out she’s trans, but keeping it that way when the media is digging around in her childhood and with her gossipy family isn’t going to be easy. But it might be her last shot at her dream casting—and her agent doesn’t take no for an answer, anyway.
And it isn’t any easier when Mackenzie is immediately head-over-heels for the gorgeous professor they tapped to film with her. And it isn’t any easier when going back to the isles means confronting all the things Lola ran away from there over twenty years ago—and that the only thing comforting her is a bond with the last person she’d ever expect to fall for.
As a tight filming schedule, a nosy agent and a relentless director force Lola and Mackenzie to face the ghosts of their pasts, will they crumble in the face of everything they ran from once? Or can they find strength in one another and be more than they were before?
Not Like Before is a 90,000-word grumpy/sunshine celebrity romance with a trans woman lead set on a fictional island where everyone is at least a little gossipy, and is the second collaborative novel between Lily Seabrooke and Jacqueline Ramsden. Features a celebrity actress made of pure sunshine and a historian who’s secretly soft under the surface, a meddling ex, Mackenzie’s meddling family, Lola’s meddling friend who loves Mackenzie more than she loves life, and Mackenzie’s agent, who is, unsurprisingly, meddling. Content warnings for on-page sex, a toxic ex, parental abandonment, gambling addiction, implicit threats of outing, a panic attack, falling off a boat, Hope being a fangirl, Taron being smug, and of course, the granny bra incident.