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A British Girl's Guide to Hurricanes and Heartbreak

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About The Book

“All hurricane and heart and deep family roots.” —Jenna Evans Welch, New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato and Spells for Lost Things

In this highly anticipated companion to the New York Times bestseller and Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club YA Pick A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, Flora Maxwell heads to Miami to find a path for her future…and finds her heart along the way.

Winchester, England, has always been home for Flora, but when her mother dies after a long illness, Flora feels untethered. Her family expects her to apply to university and take a larger role in their tea-shop business, but Flora isn’t so sure. More than ever, she’s the chaotic “hurricane” in her household, and she doesn’t always know how to manage her stormy emotions.

So she decides to escape to Miami without telling anyone—especially her longtime friend Gordon Wallace.

But Flora’s tropical change of scenery doesn’t cast away her self-doubt. When it comes to university, she has no idea which passions she should follow. That’s also true in romance. Flora’s summer abroad lands her in the flashbulb world of teen influencer Baz Marín, a Miami Cuban who shares her love for photography. But Flora’s more conflicted than ever when she begins to see future architect Gordon in a new light.

In this powerfully emotional novel, Laura Taylor Namey navigates heartbreak that feels like a hurricane in a city that’s famous for them.

Excerpt

Chapter One: July ONE JULY
If that man would quit staring off into nowhere and move two measly steps, my next shot would be perfect. I arm my camera and hover my finger over the shutter button. Waiting. He must sense the impatient tapping of my foot against the pavement because he finally moves along. Now it’s perfect.

I passed this row of vintage motorbikes on my way into work. I’d hoped they’d still be parked in the designated bay a few streets over from my family’s tea-and-pastry shop when my break time came. The post-drizzle gloom at this time of day makes the best lighting for my photos.

Click, click, click.

I shoot the parts tightly, framing the promise of power and movement. Rain-dotted pipes, rotors, calipers. The gleaming bikes must belong to some kind of club. Millie, our grandfather’s restored Triumph Bonneville that Orion took to uni today, would fit right in with all the polished logos and buttery leather. Nothing sounds like these machines; Millie’s an angry, growling bitch.

It’s only when I pause to check my memory card that the time stamps clue me in. Christ, I’m late. I should’ve been back finishing strawberry empanadas at Maxwell’s twenty minutes ago. It’s a miracle Lila didn’t text me nineteen and a half minutes ago.

Luckily, I’m not far. I stride along, clutching my Canon DSLR. I bring it nearly everywhere and usually sacrifice my lunch break to shoot around the High Street. When Nan gave me the camera a year ago, she hoped it would become a fun hobby, but it’s become my everything. The lens holds some of what I can’t carry inside. Point and shoot. Capture. Refocus. The black case cages the secrets that stain my fingers like the fruit glazes Lila and I make. Eventually, I’ll work through what I’ve hidden. And then there’s the e-mail from Greenly in my box from yesterday—I’ll work through that, too. I want to speak this time. To share about Mum. But two months haven’t released the vise grip over my tongue, the fog filling my head. I don’t know how to do what they’re asking.

I stuff the anxiety back where it came from, but my stomach dives for another reason as I round the corner to Jewry Street. The Maxwell’s queue is monstrous. I elbow inside past eager customers, tucking away my camera and searching for my apron on a supply shelf. Perplexed, I actually look myself over and—bugger—I never took it off. My front’s stained with strawberry puree, and I must’ve looked like a walking crime scene out there.

“Sorry! I know, I know, I know,” I say to Lila Reyes when she pokes her head out from the kitchen. I pick up a rag and try to look productive.

“Don’t worry, amiga,” she calls from the back. “I’ve already got the baker’s version of burpees and squat jumps planned for you.”

“Of course you bloody do, and I love it!” Give me her annoyance over bland enabling any day. I know what to do with a little piss-off.

Lila enters and lobs a tremendous smirk. She wears a bandanna over the rise of her brown ponytail and a dozen other hats: Cuban-American chef and baker. Miami expat. Le Cordon Bleu graduate. The girl who loves Winchester nearly as much as she loves my brother. And whom I love like a sister.

She’s carrying a tray of blueberry scones, which I unload and slide into the dessert case that’s replaced our old tea-tasting bar. An appreciative gasp settles across the shop; those pastries will likely sell out in minutes while customers grab bags of their weekly English breakfast and Darjeeling. Partnering with Lila to bring in a pop-up version of her family’s Miami Cuban bakery was the best decision Dad’s made in years.

We work on refilling trays of Chelsea buns and Cuban butter biscuits when knocking sounds from the pass-through window. On it there’s a sign: Closed, Please Proceed to Our Front Entrance.

I spring around. Our friend Gordon Wallace is leaning his ruddy face into the glass. “Seriously? Is he going to melt if he stands in the regular queue?”

“Oh, he already tried this shit while you were on your extended break. I shooed him off,” Lila says as she runs toward a beeping oven timer.

I stomp over, grab the window latch, and slide. “You!” I point at Gordon, who has the audacity to look affronted. “Yes, you’ve been throwing pebbles against this thing like a ginger Romeo for days.”

The pass-through on the exterior side wall was Orion’s latest idea to allow customers to step up for a quick snack. Something for Lila alone. Outside, there’s a smart awning and chalkboard menu sign. And a Gordon angling his torso over the short counter. He’s in a checkered shirt, sleeves rolled up. The blues and greens look good against his deep-auburn hair—I’ll give him that.

“You can’t blame me for enjoying the novelty of your little snack stop.” Gordy proceeds to slide the windowpane along the frame, back and forth, with childlike fascination. “Well built, that,” he muses. When it’s impossible for me to contort my face any further, he stops with a hitched laugh. “Oh, and I want a Chelsea bun. Please,” he adds, like it’s some great thing.

“You’re paying with real money and not game pieces?”

“Or you could put it on my tab.”

God help me, I step back and grab the bun and even wrap it up neatly. “What tab?” I say as I pass it over. “You usually get your fix free of charge because Lila’s nicer than me.”

Gordon tears off a bit of the bun. Shoves it in and disintegrates into bliss. “What’s that say about you if a girl with South Beach, café cubano, and guayaba in her blood is the nicer one?”

Being both half Venezuelan and a far-removed relative of Lila’s, he says the Spanish bits correctly. Lila originally visited Winchester three years ago because her distant cousin and tía of her heart—Gordon’s mum—lives here. The Wallaces were the start of why we have Lila at all.

Before I can shoot back something clever, Gordon faces me head-on. “Come on. You’re nice enough. A good friend, too.”

I bite my lip, tasting the dregs of vanilla balm. “Don’t go too soft on me.” Especially after what I’ve lost. I might shatter. Don’t be too kind; I don’t deserve it.

“Never.” He tips his chin. “Well, off I go.” He launches into a grand exit show, his movements wonky and overblown as he backs away. All he’s missing is a court-jester suit.

“Flora?”

I pivot. While other employees handle the queue, I join Lila over a tablet where she plans out menu items.

“For tomorrow, I’m thinking brioche and levain loaves. Plus cherry-chocolate scones and tres leches cakes. I also feel like doing up some mille-feuille.”

A thousand sheets. Lila will handle that delicate French confection similar to a layered napoleon. And I’ll help with the rest. “I can start more pastry dough?”

She gives a thumbs-up and scoots off to make herself a cuppa.

Halfway to the kitchen, my heart quits when I lock eyes with an enormous RAT! I scream and follow with a round of my choicest words. I left the window open, and a rat’s crawled onto the service ledge.

A hundred things happen in the course of three seconds:

The shop queue goes to pieces. (Sorry, everyone.) All of the High Street’s surely heard me. And just as Lila rushes over, I peer closer and find that the creature’s not moving. With newfound courage mixed with mortification, I grab the disgustingly lifelike and utterly fake rat, holding it by the rubber tail. The queue’s now laughing. (You’re welcome, should I take a sodding bow?)

“Gordon!” I yell out the window.

After years of pranks, Gordon Wallace might as well have signed his name on this one. Today, he’s in for a special kind of payback. I flip around to Lila, already undoing my apron strings. “I know we have work, and I was late, but—”

“Um, hell no. You’d better run, chica,” Lila says.

I flash a wicked grin, toss the rat to Lila, and bolt.

The queue parts with gasps and grunts. “Get ’em good. I wouldn’t stand for that,” one of our regulars calls out as I hit the pavement.

Either Gordy’s gained speed along with height and muscle in the last couple years, or he has accomplices. Not a red hair in sight. After a moment of hesitation, I launch myself across the rain-washed street toward the secondhand shop. Owner Victoria’s sweeping her entrance. She sees me coming, pausing her task when I skid to a stop.

“Gordon?” she asks, reading my mind. When I nod furiously, she cackles and points with her broom. “Thataway. Took off like a wildcat.”

“Thanks, V!”

Of course he’d pick the bustling High Street. Plenty of places to duck into and loads of pedestrians and bikes to dodge. I weave along, leaping puddles and catching enthusiastic echoes of my name as I pass.

“Oi, Flora!”

“She’s little but speedy!”

“Someone’s done it now!”

Growing up here, I know most everyone. I acknowledge them with a splayed hand or pumped fist.

Two streets in, I lose the band cinching my hair. My tight blond curls are going to swell like proofed dough, soaking up the remnants of drizzle and wind.

On a hunch, I sprint until I reach a stone building with a cobalt-blue door—the architecture firm where Gordon works part-time. Sonder, Fagan, and Michl reads the sign hovering over the entrance. I burst through the door, triggering a bell.

Mr. Fagan, founding partner, steps out of my way. “Goodness, miss.”

Panting, I will my feet to stop. “Oof, sorry.” Left-right-left my gaze flips. I smooth my curls, cringing at the storm-cloud feel. “Did Gordon pop in here just now?”

“Sorry, haven’t seen him.”

“Right. Thanks anyway,” I say, miffed at my gut for being wrong. I take two steps before the admin, Oliver, exits the conference room and flags me.

“Gordy was here, maybe twenty minutes ago.” Oliver pulls an object from his pocket, hands it over. “Said you might come by, and if so, I’m to give you this.”

My mouth drops. I’m holding a golden owl trinket no bigger than a paper clip. A clue—one that’s insultingly easy. So Gordon wants me to find him? And he not only knew I’d stop here; he stopped here first on his way to the tea shop. What the hell is going on?

“Thanks, Ollie. I think.” I reach for the doorknob.

Now I’m certain Gordon’s expecting me to sprint over to his family’s inn, the Owl and Crow—cute, Gordy. And ten quid says Oliver sent a text saying I took the bait. Why not take my time and make Gordon think I’ve given up on revenge? Make him sweat a little?

I change direction and stroll, the golden owl tucked into my fist. I really look where I’m going this time. A hundred uncaptured photos frame themselves, teasing my imagination. I’ve walked this road since I was a girl. Masked, I could find my way along the grayish pavers and narrow streets. From Primark to Waterstones, to the homemade soap shop Lila and I love to visit.

But the world turning over this street is new each day; life and people change. Only my camera can capture them as they are, or as I want them to be. When I’m shooting photos, people leave me alone. I like that. And they don’t know that sometimes I’m not trying to preserve a moment, but to twist the appearances of things. A digital stage where I choose the players, decide who sings and dances and loves. And who lives.

Life is not like that at all.

I take the long route around Winchester Cathedral to the St. Cross neighborhood. My family lives in this part, too, a few minutes away from the Owl and Crow Inn. Gordon’s family keeps the grounds of their Georgian bed-and-breakfast tidier than most parks. And Lila’s still Gordon’s hallway neighbor in the Wallace family’s third-story flat, three years after a summer visit turned into her new home.

Rounding the corner, you can’t help but notice the towering brick structure. The rose arbor is in full bloom, but not fragrant enough to mask the wily stink of the boy waiting out front.

I halt. We lock eyes, and I’m dreaming up all the ways to—

“Well done, you!” Gordon calls, brandishing a white hand towel. Christ.

Well done? I set my jaw and spring forward, white flag or not. When close enough, I pelt the little owl straight at him; infuriatingly, he catches it.

“Dammit, Wallace,” I snarl.

“Wait, wait, wait.” He holds out his arms.

“You little—”

Wait, then.” He steps into my zone as if it’s safe. “If in ten seconds you still want to pummel me with any other objects, I’ll be a statue.”

“Not just me, you twit. Lila might do you worse because we have work and you tricked me into the middle of a toddler game.”

“Had to get you here somehow. You wouldn’t have come here first because it’s too obvious. Had to plan for that.” He wiggles the little owl.

My brows narrow, and once again, I hate that he’s right.

“As for Lila, I don’t think so.” The corner of his mouth crinkles. “You’ll see why she gave you the rest of the day off in a minute.”

“You’re out of seconds.”

“I can count, Squiggs.” Gordon’s nickname for me curls around his tongue like my corkscrew hair that inspired it. He leads me around the inn to the vast garden and guest recreation area.

And… Oh! The scene in front of me hits all warm and wonderful at first. But guilt rarely works alone. It messes with other, good feelings all the time. Clouds them like this bloated sky. And I don’t want to think what I’m thinking as we walk across the lawn, but I can’t help it.

Don’t be too nice. I don’t deserve it.

About The Author

Photograph by J. Chang-Tablada

Laura Taylor Namey is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of young adult fiction including Reese’s Book Club pick A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and TomorrowA British Girl’s Guide to Hurricanes and HeartbreakWhen We Were Them, and With Love, Echo Park. A proud Cuban American, she can be found hunting for vintage treasures and wishing she was in London or Paris. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two children. Visit her at LauraTaylorNamey.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (September 26, 2023)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665915335
  • Ages: 12 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

“Exactly the kind of love story I love most, all hurricane and heart and deep family roots. Flora is a force to be reckoned with."

– Jenna Evans Welch, New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato and Spells for Lost Things

"Every bit as swoony, delicious, and heartfelt as you could hope for and then some. There is so much love infused in every page of this story that you feel it like a warm hug. Laura Taylor Namey has written yet another deeply relatable, iconic love story you’ll want to revisit again and again."

– Emma Lord, New York Times bestselling author of You Have a Match and When You Get the Chance

"A compelling torrent of emotion and healing."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Flora’s voice and personality are distinctive, and Namey’s consistently lush, evocative writing brings the Miami setting to life. . . . Although there are brief appearances made by characters from A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, this story stands fully on its own."

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More books from this author: Laura Taylor Namey

More books in this series: Cuban Girl’s Guide