23 November 2016

Review #560: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The unnatural and the strange have a perfume of their own”

----Fernando Pessoa

Stacey Lee, a Chinese-American author, pens a charming tale of young love and perfume in her new young adult book, The Secret of a Heart Note that revolves around a teenage perfume maker, who has a nose for each individual's scent and can customize that perfume into love elixir to make people fall in love with one another, but her magic comes with a price of never falling in love with anyone, but the girl desires of a normal life with a high school, boyfriend and social reputation.


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.

Mimosa, a young teenage girl, born with a magical nose of recognizing the unique scent of each individuals and then customizing them to make and help people fall in love with one another in the form of love elixirs (its very different from the concept of love potions). Although this hereditary and ancestral magical gift comes with a hefty price that tells her never to fall in love with any man, as that will make her lose her magical power of her nose. Reluctantly she devotes herself in this family business along with her mother and almost all the times, against her wishes, she keeps her mother happy by being an aromateur. Mimosa longs for a normal teenage life with a high school to attend to, a boyfriend whom she could love and with a few best friends to talk to. Her dreams come almost true through her committal of a grave mistake by wrongly delivering an elixir to a woman that is meant for someone else. Before her mother finds out about such a mistake, Mim must find out a way to rectify her error and even if she needs some help from the local school's soccer star, Court, she must take it. But love has no course and comes knocking suddenly, can Mim stop herself from falling in love with Court?

Being a fan of Stacey Lee's young adult historical fiction books, I could not pass up the opportunity to read and review her new contemporary fantasy novel. And boy, oh boy, this delectable book simply made my heart sing the notes of love that Mim and Court made me feel it so strikingly. The whole story is laced with beautiful and heart felt emotions that sync well with the course of the story line, and not only that the author has managed to set the mood of the readers through her lyrical prose. The author's love for beautiful scented flora of nature is very evident from the way she has described about those flowers and the process of extracting the scents from them is vivid and arresting enough to drown the readers into the depths of such a world.

The writing is evocative and easy to contemplate with. The books opens in an engaging manner, and never once loses its hold from the minds of the readers. Even though there are not many layers or twists to explore, yet the friendship, relationship and the magic will keep a firm grip in the minds of the readers. The narrative is extremely alluring and free flowing and the readers will find it easy to comprehend with the tale.

The author explores the world from a teenage girl's perspective and that is done flawlessly by the author, as she creates some of the distinct and magnificent characters in YA contemporary fiction. Meaning, the characters are not only well developed but also shine through whatever demeanor they portray in the story. The main character, Mimosa, is highly interesting young girl, whose desperation to make thing better so that her realtionship with her mother does not falter is quite exceptional. Her fight to make things right after committing a mistake is wonderful as well as inspiring enough. Her skills and magical abilities though make her unique, her ethnic background makes her even more compelling enough for the readers to keep rooting for her till the very end. The supporting cast are also depicted from diverse ethnicity, who are honest, somewhat flawed and extremely real enough to make the readers connect with them easily.

The love story developed in a gradual motion, devoid of any cliched or mushy-mushy moments, yet filled neck deep with compassion and respect for one another. The author's approach to this teenage love story is marvelous and something that holds the power to make the readers feel that sting of the first love.

In a nutshell, this is an entertaining novel with a touch of magic and perfumes that only sound better but also smell better and the novel is bound to leave a lasting fragrance in the minds of the readers.

Verdict: A YA contemporary fiction that must not be missed by the readers.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author's publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review her book.

Author Info:
Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes YA fiction.
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