ARC Review: The Secret of a Heart Note

The Secret of a Heart NoteThe Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release date: December 27, 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.

This book was adorable! The story is about Mimosa, who is kind of like cupid botanist. She and her mother (as well as a long line of women going back in history) are people with an evolved olfactory system (bloodhound noses, basically). Their sense of smell is strong enough to identify the nature of a person and judge compatibility, so they are called love witches. There is this jinx on them, so while Mim likes this guy at school, she absolutely can’t fall in love with him. But when she accidentally arrows his mother, well, their paths cross in an interesting way.

The best thing I loved about the book was how the extra-sensory perception Mim had enriched the descriptions in the novel. There aren’t just visual cues of the scene, but also olfactory ones. So, suppose she says she senses a character is angry, she can smell burnt rubber. And over the course of the novel, the indication of smells clues you into the scene mood. It was like another language of emotions being present, and a different experience to imagine how having an extra sense would feel like. I also loved Mim as a character; she is humorous, kind, and witty. There were definitely Rapunzel-like vibes coming in the parts surrounding the jinx, and her identity is tied into how she perceives the world. I did feel that the female interactions in the book could have been better; Vicky, for example, is a classic evil ex-girlfriend trend that I wish would die down soon. But otherwise, this book is brilliant, and a good dose of magic realism.

Received a free galley from Katherine Tegen Books, via Edelweiss.

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