The Secret of a Heart Note – Stacey Lee – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 27 December 2016
Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.
I savoured this novel, delighting in the sights and vibrant smells of this love story. I loved disappearing into the lush, wonderful world Stacey Lee has created. It made me want to go and enjoy the garden, plant bulbs or run my hands through a lavender plant.
Mim is an aromateur, using her precise and extensive gift of smell to mix elixirs – love potions. But her gift comes at a price. Her mother has warned her many times over – if she falls in love she will lose her strong sense of smell and rob the world of one of its last aromateurs. Meanwhile, Mim just wants to finish high school, maybe convince her classmates she’s not an evil love witch, resist the pull of the charming and popular Court, and try not to cause too much chaos with her love potions.
I didn’t expect for the people around Mim to know about her being an aromateur, but her and her mother’s business is well know, if not understood. It makes for some interesting conversions between Mim and her classmates. I truly loved the world of smell in this novel. I liked how different smells meant different things and how they were all described and I loved how this was seamlessly interwoven into the story. I was happily immersed in Mim’s rich and detailed world.
The Secret of a Heart Note contains a diverse range of characters, one would expect nothing less from one of the founders of #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Mim is a fantastic lead character. She keeps her distance from people, both because she knows they prefer it that way and because too many people and all their scents can be overwhelming. Not to mention direct contact can leave a person entranced with Mim, much like a bee to pollen. But she doesn’t misuse this or her gift of smell. She’s okay being different. She has her own, eccentric sense of style. She stands out in all the right ways.
Mim doesn’t expect to be genuinely liked. Sure, people are attracted to her – she hangs around with aphrodisiacs all the time – but she knows she stands out, isn’t like others, and that people are afraid of her. It’s a little heartbreaking and so very satisfying when Court starts to display interest in Mim. The flirtation that sparks between Court and Mim is very sweet. It all starts with her saving his life, endangering his mother’s love life, and messing with his own feelings and only gets more complicated from there.
The Secret of a Heart Note is a very clever and enjoyable novel, contemporary romance with a touch of the fantastical, and very highly recommended.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Love, romance, mother-daughter relationships, plants, gardens, love potions, friendship, LGBT.
Reading age guide: Ages 12/13 and up.
Advisory: Infrequent coarse language, s***.
Published: 27 December 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 384 pages.