"I was really caught off-guard," recalls Hannah Brown of learning that Tyler Cameron was dating Gigi Hadid in 2019
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Hannah Brown Author Photo
Hannah Brown
| Credit: Lauren Alexandra

Hannah Brown didn't find her happy ending on her season of The Bachelorette in 2019, but for a moment, it appeared she would rekindle a relationship with fan favorite and runner-up Tyler Cameron.

"I was really hoping that we would start dating again," Brown, who split from her pick Jed Wyatt before the finale aired, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "I thought I'd made a mistake. I had feelings for Tyler. And I wanted to make things work."

But as the reality star, 27, details in her new memoir God Bless This Mess, available Tuesday, things did not go as she had hoped.

For more from Hannah Brown, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

Hannah Brown and Tyler Cameron
Hannah and Tyler

After Brown publicly asked Cameron out during her season's After the Final Rose special (sending fans into a tizzy!), the former couple spent time together in her Los Angeles home in early August 2019.

"We had really intimate conversations about planning trips and things," says Brown. "I wanted it to work and to know that everything had happened for a reason. But maybe there was some miscommunication of what that meant."

TYLER C., HANNAH BROWN
Tyler Cameron, Hannah Brown
| Credit: Mark Bourdillon/ ABC
TYLER C., HANNAH BROWN
Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown on The Bachelorette finale.

Miscommunication or not, two days after their night together, photos of Cameron with supermodel Gigi Hadid emerged. "I was really caught off-guard," Brown says. "I knew we were not together or openly dating, but just from the conversations we'd had, it was so shocking — and so public."

Continues Brown: "I felt like I had to be strong and pretend it didn't bother me when it did. I was already on the ground [following her breakup with Wyatt] and this was another kick. I was deeply hurt. I said to Tyler, 'I'd date Gigi Hadid too if I could, I get it.' But it was not the way I wish it was handled."

In the months following, "we didn't talk," says Brown. "I was upset with him."

hannah brown book

But then, when Brown learned that Cameron's beloved mother Andrea had been hospitalized in February 2020, she reached out.

"He told me he had been thinking about me and he apologized for how everything went down," says Brown. "The next day my brother had an overdose. We bonded over each other's trauma."

Tragically, Cameron's mother died at the end of February (Brown's brother survived). Brown went to visit Cameron in Florida days before the COVID-19 lockdown began and suddenly found herself stranded with her ex and his friends. (The group documented much of their time together on Instagram and TikTok.)

"I didn't know how to be there," says Brown. "I was stranded in a house with a bunch of yucky boys. And Tyler and I were both hurting really bad."

But instead of communicating, Brown says Cameron would often go "days" without speaking to her. "There was nothing romantic about that time," she says. "We didn't even kiss! And it was really confusing because I told him I still had feelings for him and he rejected me."

Ultimately, when Brown was able to travel safely she left, and says she hasn't spoken to Cameron since.

"I was embarrassed about it for a while, but I learned so much," says Brown, who has been happily dating Adam Woolard for a year. "It wouldn't have worked with Tyler. Yes, there was chemistry and we had fun together, but I don't know if I had what he wants in a person or if he had what I wanted."

Ultimately, "things might not turn out the way you expected, but I try to learn from every moment," Brown says. "I don't wish ill on anybody. I've been through growing pains. But I'm happy. And I'm in a really good place."

God Bless This Mess: Learning to Live and Love Through Life's Best (and Worst) Moments hits bookshelves on Tuesday.