A British Girl’s Guide to Hurricanes and Heartbreak by Laura Taylor Namey delivers an unexpected love triangle but ultimately, I couldn’t get past the writing style. This novel acts as a sequel to A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, but it also stands alone, so no need to read it beforehand.
Plagued by grief
We met Flora Maxwell on the day of her mother’s funeral. She’s supposed to give a speech, but when the moment comes, she ends up running away instead, too emotional to confront her feelings. But it’s not grief that’s holding her back–it’s guilt. Guilt because she wasn’t there the day her mother died, and because she lied to her dad about why.
In the first chapter, she plays up this lie as some deep, dark secret, which she feels is crushing her. I assumed she would carry this secret close to chest, and throughout the story we would slowly learn more and more pieces until it’s finally revealed. I expected good storytelling, but no, that was too much to ask for. Instead, she blurts out her secret to her whole family in Chapter 2, completely destroying the tension.
She immediately runs away to sunny Miami to stay with her brother’s girlfriend’s family so she never has to face the consequences of her own actions. And her dad just… lets her. I know she’s technically an adult, but her family’s reaction didn’t ring true to me. My parents would have loaded me on the next flight home. Instead, she spends the rest of the novel in Miami, working through her issues.
Unfortunately, the book lacked focus. Sometimes, it feels like a book about the grief of losing your mom. But more often, it felt like it was trying to be a romance instead. It would have been better off choosing a lane and sticking to it. I would’ve preferred the grief lane, because I’ve read enough terrible love triangles to last a lifetime.
In the opening chapter, we meet Gordan, a friend Flora has known since childhood. He takes her out on a picnic and asks her out. Immediately, I struggled with this, because I felt no connection to the character, and so I felt nothing when Flora sadly rejects him. Later in the story, when he inevitably shows up in Florida, Flora finds herself catching feelings.
But she’s already met someone else in Miami: Baz Marín, the son of the famous photographer. Flora needs him to shoot her friend’s wedding after her photographer backed out. At first, he refuses, but then it turns out that he needs something from her too… a fake girlfriend. So, they strike a deal.
Based on the tropes that we all know and love, it seems obvious that she’ll fall for Baz. He’s sexy, and they bond over deep conversations about photography. What’s not to love? But as the story goes on, it becomes really unclear who she will choose. Neither love interest is developed enough for you to root for them, so the love triangle is unpredictable, and yet…passionless. The story tries to focus on both the romance and the grief storylines and it does as much of a disservice to the romance as it does to the grief plot.
Flora. Just Flora.
I don’t think I can emphasize enough how much I disliked this main character. I found her personality grating. She’s bold, brash, and this leads her to outbursts in almost every situation. I mean, she blurts out her deep, dark secret with almost no provocation. She flies to another country to avoid dealing with her family. She yells at random strangers gossiping about her family. I’m sorry, girl, but I am not letting you off on the grief card. Do better.
Other reviewers have read and enjoyed this book, but sadly, I’m simply not one of them. But if you enjoy drama queens, photography stories, and hot Cuban boys, you just might give it a try.
Featured image courtesy of Simon Teen.
'A British Girl’s Guide to Hurricanes and Heartbreak' review: Laura Taylor Namey's new novel tries to do too much - 5/10