Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

“I lost nearly everything, and then I built something better.”

Say hello to Booktail’s first repeat author, Nina LaCour. If you enjoyed reading Watch Over Me with us last year, you’ll definitely want to pick up LaCour’s debut adult novel, Yerba Buena. Yerba Buena is a beautiful, modern love story, but it’s also a refreshing look into how a “romance” novel doesn’t have to focus solely on longing looks and stomachs full of butterflies. LaCour’s newest novel is a charmingly messy coming-of-age story centered around two women struggling with emotional baggage as they work to understand themselves more intimately. 

When we meet Sara Foster, she is a deeply feeling sixteen-year-old girl learning to navigate a world without her mother.

Sara’s life is far from easy with an absent father, a brother who needs her support, and a secret relationship with one of the girls in her class. Things only get more complicated for Sara when her girlfriend is found dead in the Russian River. Unable to deal with the losses threatening to destroy her, Sara decides to run away. With nothing but the clothes on her back and the $300 she earned from her father’s sleazy friend, Sara and a strange boy who’s been living in his car begin their drive from Geurnville to Los Angeles.

Years later, Sara is a talented bartender, praised for her creative cocktails, beauty, and the air of mystery surrounding her.

Across Los Angeles, Emilie DuBois is stuck in limbo. After seven years, Emilie is on her fifth major as an undergraduate and still has no clue what she wants to do with her life. She craves beauty and the sense of community her Creole grandparents cultivated when they first arrived in California.

In a moment of spontaneity, Emilie takes a job arranging flowers at Yerba Buena, a glamorous restaurant owned by an extraordinarily wealthy and handsome married man. The two quickly embark on a tumultuous affair. One morning, while Emilie is putting together a bouquet, Sara walks through the doors of Yerba Buena. The energy between our two protagonists is electric, and their connection is immediate. But unfortunately, the damage both Emilie and Sara carry, along with the choices they’ve made, interrupt their attempts at a relationship.

Just as Emilie begins to gain a sense of understanding when it comes to who she is and what she wants out of life, Sara’s old life catches up to her. As readers, we are left to wonder if their love is more powerful than their pasts.

Nina LaCour’s writing never disappoints.

Her ability to translate intense emotion onto the page is unparalleled, and her language is exceptionally poetic, resulting in a story you’ll fly through in a day or two and miss the moment you turn the final page. None of this is news to her dedicated readers, but Yerba Buena might just be my favorite LaCour novel yet. Don’t be fooled by its status as a romance novel. More than anything, Yerba Buena is about two people who fall in love with taking the ugly parts of life and transforming them into something beautiful to be shared.

Order a copy of Yerba Buena now and prepare to be inspired by descriptions of rain-soaked earth, flower blossoms, bitter sips, and perfectly spiced gumbo. Our Booktails cocktail and mocktail are basically plucked from the pages of Yerba Buena, the perfect compliment to this captivating story.

The Good Herb


  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce green Chartreuse liqueur
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 3 dashes cherry bitters
  • Yerba buena leaf to garnish (can be replaced by a mint leaf)


  1. Add the gin, Chartreuse, lime juice, cherry bitters, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake until cold.
  2. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  3. Garnish with yerba buena or mint leaf.

Something Better Mocktail

Grapefruit shrub:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Peel from one grapefruit
  • 1 cup fresh grapefruit segments
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

Place sugar in a large mason jar. Add grapefruit peel and muddle. Add grapefruit segments and continue to muddle. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Cover and let steep in the fridge for 2 days. Strain out solids and store the syrup in your fridge.


  • 1 ounce grapefruit shrub
  • 5 ounces tonic
  • 1 ounce rosemary syrup (fresh rosemary sprigs added to equal parts sugar and water,   heated in a pot until boiling then cooled)


Add grapefruit shrub and rosemary syrup to your favorite fancy glass filled with ice. Top with chilled tonic water. Stir to combine. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.