Book Review: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

secretheartnoteThe Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

Published by HarperCollins on December 27, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Magical Realism

Pages: 384 Format: Hardcover Source: Purchased

4.5/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

Love chose me, and I tried, but I couldn’t stop the arrow in its flight.

As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, fifteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of using her extraordinary sense of smell to mix base notes, top notes, and heart notes into elixirs that help others fall in love.

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 existence—taking up a sport and limping away flush from victory, joining the debate club and saying things like “That’s a logical fallacy!” Having a boyfriend.

When she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the school soccer star to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that when it comes to falling in love, the choice isn’t always hers to make.


 As a huge fan of Stacey Lee’s YA historical fiction, I was pleased to see her take on a bit of contemporary and magical realism with A Secret of a Heart Note. Bringing her detailed style of writing to the California coast and adding a heaping dose of whimsy, Lee brings us a tale of aromateurs, the woes of love, and even the difficulties of high school life through Mimosa’s eyes.

 Honestly the concept of aromateurs is fascinating and I was blown away with how descriptive and unique each and every smell was. From the herbs in a garden to the flowers in a park; even people and emotions had their own unique scent. Lee uses language and I imagine a fair bit of research to convey every single one with ease. Elixirs take serious work and in-depth knowledge though to have the desired effect, and I loved that as aromateurs there’s a rule book and code to follow.

But Mimosa wanted more than an aromateur life. She craved knowledge and experience of an everyday nature despite not fitting in at school. Mim made plenty of mistakes but also tried to rectify them. Court wanted more too. Not to be weighed down by the future; for his mom to find happiness. The two of them cared so much, trying so hard to make a difference. I think that’s what bonded them together the most.

The depth of the story was really fleshed out in the side characters. Kali, only friend to Mim, was a wonderful, take no shit poet who was coming to terms with her sexuality. Aunt Briony was also a breath of fresh air to her sister’s strict nature offering up some serious humor and clarity. Life lessons were doled out left and right when these two came onto the page and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed A Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee. It was ridiculously cute and had the perfect touch of magic to make my day. Mim and Court made my heart shine and while I’d like to have seen a little more of them the side stories totally made up for it. Honestly being an aromateur is a job I could get behind and I definitely encourage people to pick up this book just to discover it’s intricacies.

So have you picked up A Secret of a Heart Note yet? Did the aromateurs spark your interest? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below!

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