Review: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

Title: The Secret of a Heart Note

Author: Stacey Lee

Series: Standalone

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Coming-of-Age

Publication Date: December 27, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

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.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.


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“The power of the flower.”

The Secret of a Heart Note is about a young girl, Mimosa, A.K.A. Mim, who has a keen sense of smell that allows her to read emotions, personalities, and even make elixirs for those seeking love. During a routine love matching, Mim makes the mistake of matching the wrong couple and as a result, she is on a mission to rectify the error before it’s too late.

The synopsis of The Secret of a Heart Note gives a good idea about the book, but there is so much more than that. The number intricate subplots might be confusing to keep up with, but I think they make this story more complete. Despite the predictable ending, I find no fault in this storyline, which kept me entertained the entire time, and occasionally, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the scenes. The secondary characters are not just carbon-copies of cliches, but they’re a diverse bunch that hold more complexities and depth, setting a more realistic tone.

But the character that really stood out was our protagonist, Mimosa. She was a delight to read. She stands out in a crowd and accepts that her peers find her odd instead of dwelling in self-depreciation and the “woo-is-me” attitude. She carries a confidence in her, even in moments of vulnerability, that is inspiring. I love her overall attitude and personality.

“Her eyes almost cross. ‘And those amber eyes, like that cougar I saw on Big Cats. A little mascara and gloss, you could do runway. You’ve got the height and the lines.”

“‘Thanks’ I’m not sure what kind of lines she’s talking about. Far as I know, models don’t really speak at all.”

Another character I really enjoyed was the love interest, Court. The boy-next-door with family issues who falls in love with the quirky outsider is not a new concept, but the execution was perfect. You can’t help, but fall in love with Court and his loyalty to his family. The romance is a part of the story, but doesn’t dominate the storyline.  

You don’t just get a fiction romance with The Secret of a Heart Note. Readers can also learn quite a bit about flowers, their origins, and capabilities from this read. The descriptions of smell is an impressive feat too. Smell is very difficult sense to convey, but Stacey Lee knows her olfactory senses, because I could actually picture the smell with her descriptions. The writing is noteworthy (Get it? Because of the title…Ok, I’ll stop.) and should not be neglected.

“This is a key part of the interview. A lie smells like pewter and sour grass with stale yellow undertones, rather like a sweaty palm that has been clutching dirty coins.”

Mim’s gets herself in pickle and although I didn’t approve of some of her decisions, the overall story was very well-written. There are some instances that were predictable (at least for me), but I didn’t let that stop me. The diverse set of characters, various subplots, and exceptional writing makes The Secret of a Heart Note a memorable read. I enjoyed this book and I think many others will too.

All quotes are from a finished e-copy.