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The Secret of a Heart Note

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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.

384 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 27, 2016

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About the author

Stacey Lee

9 books2,102 followers
Stacey Lee is the New York Times and Indie bestselling author of historical and contemporary young adult fiction, including THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL, Reese's Book Club Late Summer 2021 YA pick, and her most recent, LUCK OF THE TITANIC which received five starred reviews. A native of southern California and fourth-generation Chinese American, she is a founder of the We Need Diverse Books movement and writes stories for all kids (even the ones who look like adults). Find her
@staceyleeauthor on Instagram and Twitter, and @staceylee.author on Facebook.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 613 reviews
Profile Image for Sue.
781 reviews1,590 followers
April 15, 2017
The Secret of a Heart Note is everything I wanted in a book. It’s the perfect read for To All the Boys I’ve Loved You fans.  
It’s incredibly difficult to find a light book about people of color, where we experience racism, but it’s not the entire plot of the novel. I’m not discrediting stories that feature our struggles, but sometimes you just want to unwind, and read something that doesn’t show the hard truths of our lives. That’s rightfully justified. Reading stories with characters of color and seeing them fall in love, be happy, be successful are such a beautiful experience. It’s a protest to this publishing industry that continues to support harmful books. I want a variety of representation, most especially uplifting stories. The Secret of a Heart Note perfectly captured the essence that I’m looking for. 

The story follows Mimosa, who is one of the two remaining aromateurs in this world. Aromatuers have an impressive sense of smell that they use to create elixirs for the betterment of society. Their livelihood aims to help people open their eyes to the possibility of love. But like most traditional families, they have a filial duty, and rules to abide. Aromateurs are forbidden to fall in love, for it would rob them of their ability of smell.

When Mimosa grabbed the chance to attend a regular high school, she finds herself getting in tangled in a web of precarious situations. She accidentally gave an elixir to a heartbroken mother, who happened to be the mother of the school’s soccer star, who might or might not like her.

The Secret of a Heart Note immediately hooked me in. I love the swirling details, and the unique story-telling technique.

My heart does a backflip, and a dozen different scents bursts from me, the sugar maple of happiness, the chicory of regret, and more rambling sunflower, a plant notable for its tendency to change directions several times during the day.

How many books have you read that employ the aroma of flowers, and Mother Nature as a writing style? Nothing came to mind. The lovely descriptions evoke a sense of belonging and uniqueness. I find it eerily comforting. It reminds me of my Lola’s ancestral house.

The mother-daughter relationship of the protagonist, Mimosa and Dahlia resonate with me more. The story tackles family expectation and the burden that comes along with it. In addition to their dynamics, Lee also made a point to establish the family history of aromatuers. The supporting characters’ family woes are included in the plot as well.

The friendship is so heartwarming. It showcases high school’s meanness. How being different than your peers will make you a target. The only valid concern I have is there’s a token mean girl. That’s it, but as I said there’s also supportive friends 

The romance is so cute. It’s one of my favorite things about it. Truthfully, I get giddy whenever I read a love interest that isn’t a stereotyped asshole. I love the awkward fumbling sincerity of it.

This book is made for YA contemporary readers.  We have an unconventional gripping writing, well-crafted characters, family and friend’s dynamics, and a love story that would make you dizzy. If you’re looking for a YA book with an exceptional plot, that is fun and heartwarming. I hope you’d consider picking The Secret of a Heart Note. The recipe for this story is enticing. You won’t regret it.

Review also posted at Hollywood News Source.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,745 reviews1,306 followers
February 10, 2017
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“Love witches can’t love.”

This was a YA magical realism story, about a girl who created love elixirs using a heightened sense of smell.

Mimosa was an interesting character, and she certainly went out of her way to try and please her mother, even when it mean doing things she didn’t want to do.

The storyline in this was about Mimosa accidentally giving a love elixir to the wrong person, and then having to work to try and rectify her mistake by creating a new elixir to counteract the effects of the first. We also got quite a slow burning, forbidden romance happening between Mimosa and a boy called Court, as Mimosa had been brought up to believe that falling in love led to losing her heightened sense of smell, and her ability to create elixirs.

The ending to this was pretty good, and I was pleased with the way things were tied up.

7 out of 10
Profile Image for beautyliterate.
331 reviews1,371 followers
February 7, 2017
4/5 stars

Video Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmtY2...

With this being my first Stacey Lee book I was ecstatic to read it since I have heard nothing but wonderful things about her other works. Now, that I have read one of her books I cannot wait to read more!

Her writing style is descriptive and vibrant. It almost felt like I could smell what she was describing. The main character was lovely and incredibly bright. I was happy at the fact although she is younger I never felt like she was in any way immature, it was refreshing.

I loved the idea of Mim and her mother being aromateurs, I had no knowledge before reading this novel but I found Stacey Lee incorporated it beautifully into the book. I found I enjoyed learning more about it and in my personal opinion, the idea of Mim and her mother being aromateurs made the book stand out.

***Was sent this book in exchange for an honest review***
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,741 reviews711 followers
December 10, 2016
I downloaded this on a whim, but wasn't quite sure what to expect.

I loved Mim. She's smart and well meaning and probably one of the most genuine MC's I've read before. I loved being in her head. There's also an excellent cast of secondary characters: I loved Kali and Court, but Bryony stole every scene she was in.

The best part of this book is the smells and how emotions are scented. If even half of the information about the flowers is correct, I'm seriously impressed. The writing is gorgeous and the story was an excellent mash up of decadence and whimsy. I'm sure it'll be one that I read again.

**Huge thanks to Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,345 followers
November 29, 2016
“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.
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,214 reviews11.8k followers
September 9, 2016
4.75 stars. You know when you read a book that just makes you feel all warm and wonderful on the inside? That leaves you with an ear to ear grin when you finish? That was this book for me. I fell in love with this story that plays out exactly like a romantic comedy, which I love! I liked the aromateur aspect, which was something I've not truly thought about or read before. There are a very few minor quibbles I have, but all in all, this was an extremely fun reading experience for me.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews908 followers
March 7, 2017
Mim and her mother are the last two aromateurs on Earth. They use their divine sense of smell to mix love potions for other people. But Mim starts to fall in love and that is forbidden because she could lose her aromateur powers. Will she choose love or lose it all?

I really love Mim and her mother's relationship. That was a highlight of the book. I also just loved her best friend Kali. I thought she was just unstoppable and amazing, and kind of wished she was the main character instead. I felt Mim to be too focused on her relationship and felt bored. That was my major issue with this one. That the romance was just the largest focus and everything else just fell away, so naturally with my short attention span, I grew bored. The writing is definitely on point and I love how the scent of sniffing out someone's personalities played with their magical powers. Reading about her powers was the most unique and descriptive part of the book and owns up Stacey Lee's unique writing style.

Read this one for the writing, for you won't be disappointed. Also bonus stars for that gorgeous eye-catching cover! Looking forward to reading more of Lee's books.

Profile Image for mith.
762 reviews265 followers
April 13, 2017
you can read my review HERE as well, if you'd like!
What an adorably unique book! As my first novel by Stacey Lee, I can proudly say that I loved this book and I do hope more people read it. Lee combines a contemporary California (I forgot where exactly, it's been like a month, and this review itself is way overdue) with a fresh blend of magical realism that makes this book both adorable and intricate!

Mim was just a darling character. She was torn between wanting to be a regular teenager--who can eat salty foods and go to math class and fall in love--and being the aromateur her strict mother is.

I absolutely adored her and her inner monologues. Mim was such a relatable character, despite the fact she basically has a supernose. Anyway, Mim's narration was as wonderful as her character. She never gave up despite how, well, admittedly, odd her situation was. She was fun, adorable, and a refreshing character, and I enjoyed her from page one.

The mother-daughter dynamic in this book was a complex one. Mim's mother follows the old traditions of aromateurs to the book and she implements the rules onto Mim, which, in turn, make it hard for Mim. She disagrees with many of the rules, so having to live with them was a bit difficult. At times, it causes Mim to wonder if her mom loves her or just her nose, and that kind of insecurity was always a bit hard to read because Mim was such a sweet and brilliant young lady.

Stacey Lee is an amazing writer and while that definitely shows through her characters, her descriptions also shine. She included a variety of emotions throughout the books, but what was more was that she also included their smells. Their scents, whatever, you get what I mean. The whole idea behind aromateurs was incredibly interesting--they made "love" potions based on a person's heart notes and emotions, a concept that was new to me and wholly intriguing to read about.

There was an adorable and slow build-up of a romance in the book! Court and Mim were so cute and each interaction was just super, well, cute. A bit weird, but it totally fit their characters and situation. I loved how Court wouldn't give up on Mim and I loved how Mim tried not to fall for Court and awwwwww. They made such a cute couple.

The relationship between Mim and her best friend was also another great aspect of the book. While I loved seeing it, there was a point in the story where they weren't talking so understandably, their interactions were limited. I get it, I do, but I still wished I'd seen more of them!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book! Super cute, super fun, and completely unique! If you love contemporaries novels with a little bit of magic, and need something light-hearted, you definitely need to pick this up! 4 stars!
Profile Image for Fiderly.
15 reviews303 followers
February 18, 2017
Finally got around to immersing myself into this novel. I loved it so much! All the diverse characters, the scent descriptions, botanical details, the plot everything. I loved every bit of this book and the way everything played out.
Profile Image for Sibel Gandy.
968 reviews57 followers
April 15, 2021
2,5 / 5
Kurgu ilginç, anlatım akıcı olsa da çiçekler ve kokular ile ilgili o kadar çok detaylı anlatım vardı ki bir süre sonra sıkıldım okurken 🙄
Profile Image for alexandra.
230 reviews1,523 followers
September 3, 2020
4.5/5 ★ The Secret of a Heart Note was super unique and cute! it's a fairly solid contemporary novel and i couldn't find any problems i had with it. (but i also couldn't find anything super spectacular about it....)
Profile Image for Tissy.
217 reviews
February 18, 2017
I give up. DNF 65%
Maybe I'm just not in the right mood for this type of book OR maybe it was just extremely boring.
I was drawn to this book based on the whimsy and magic of an aromatuer witch matchmaker but this idea plus the characters were all underdeveloped - you never got a true gauge on who any of the characters were and the romance was lustreless.
This could have been a good book but it was bombarded with descriptions on botany, plant scents and completely unfocused tidbits on historical folklore/tales that the plot felt like an afterthought.
I wanted a light, fun read instead my brain shrivelled with boredom.
Profile Image for Claire.
96 reviews36 followers
September 16, 2016
The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee is a perfect spice of romance and growing up. In addition, Lee adds a nice little touch of magic to the general story with our adorable main character, Mim, being an Aromateur. A type of "Witch" that has a nose unlike any other. Mim can smell the heart notes and the personality of the people around her, her ability to do this allows her to create the non-cliché version of a Love Potion.

Mimosa, the main character is what makes this book so fantastic. Her character is so unique. Not to mention, POC, and gosh yes I just loved it so much. One of my favorite things about Mimosa was that though she made mistakes, she is determined to fix them. Some books follow a similar plot, but they are written in such a way that the character sounds petulant and angsty. I felt none of this with Mim. Mim was definitely her own character. Moving on to Court (which I'll be honest I find that a ridiculous name), he was a normal guy. Perhaps a little cute, the star soccer player, but I loved how he was quite simply just a dude. He had family problems but wasn't a broken-hearted misunderstood teenage boy like many other teenage boys in YA. He was an extremely comforting character and I thought he supported and stood by Mim really well.

Moving to the plot, I felt like the plot was fantastic. I thought it was so much fun. I loved loved LOVED the concept of this book and the plot kept me loving it more throughout the entirety of the story. The beginning of course isn't the fastest thing in the world especially, but it was only "slow" for about 30 pages before we get into interesting conflicts. The romance aspect of the plot was adorable and though The Secret of a Heart Note is definitely about love, it isn't solely focused about love. Does that make any sense? I found the the romance plot mainly focused on Mim and the other characters in the story and how they developed. On a site note, I want to make sure you guys know Mim is only 15. I was stunned by this because I'm 15 and no way would I get a love story that epic at 15...hehe... anyway...

Overall, I really loved The Secret of a Heart Note. This was the first book of Stacey Lee's that I've read and it has definitely convinced me to read some of her other works. Everything about The Secret of a Heart Note was epic and a definite 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a cute fuzzy romance with a spice of magic.
Profile Image for Morgan (The Bookish Beagle).
754 reviews160 followers
May 30, 2017
I loved this book so much! I read a couple reviews that called it a modern California fairy tale and it really feels like that; it sort of reminds me of Practical Magic and Chocolat in the charming, witchy love aspects, meets Clueless for the mix ups. The aromateurs had such an interesting history and I love that this book had a fresh concept. It felt really unique! The characters were rich and complex, and I especially loved Mim. She was so relatable in her wish to be a normal teenager while still having this amazing gift. And the writing! The descriptions were lush and inviting, so easy to imagine the scents and smells. I've always had a thing about smells btw, and how they relate to memories. It never felt overdone to me; it was whimsical but not cloying. And the book was romantic! So romantic, though I loved that it focused on familial love and friendship too. Highly recommended :)
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,727 reviews867 followers
February 16, 2017
I have heard literally nothing but the highest of all praises for Stacey Lee’s novels. Everyone seems to simply adore her stories and writing so I knew that I would have to give something of hers a chance sooner rather than later. I didn’t think that there could be a better place to start than with The Secrets of a Heart Note whose premise I had already been salivating over for a while. Unfortunately, while I can honestly see why so many people adore her, this particular book just did not impress me as much as I would have liked.

Mim was a fantastic protagonist. Under pressure from her domineering mother, she is a somewhat awkward and timid character but also incredibly relatable. She struggles with balancing high school and her home life while also forging friendships that actually matter and performing her duties as an aromateur. I loved that there was such a focus on her development as an individual. I always felt that I understood her motivations and actions, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with them. She was such a solid presence in my mind and the time the author spent on making her voice so distinctive and alive was certainly not lost on me. The fact that her relationship with her mother - which was quite tense at times - remained so central and integral to the overarching storyline but never took unnecessary preference also made me happy. While I did find myself frustrated with how Mim’s mother treated her and the pressure she placed on her to follow in her footsteps, the development of this relationships was practically flawless. It felt raw and realistic without being overpowering, and added to Mim’s developed as our protagonist - such a bonus! I think it’s fair to say that no one - no matter their overall thoughts on the book - can claim that Mim was in any way an underdeveloped protagonist.

What let me down - and what really made this story a bust for me, personally - was the romance. I did not get attached to Court as a character. While he was undeniably sweet, he was also… boring? I don’t think we ever really got to know him on an intimate level or at least, I could never personally get a read on him. I don’t know if that was the writing and his characterisation or maybe something on my end. Either way, I found him a forgettable character as a whole and a dull love interest for such an amazing protagonist like Mim. This also made it hard for me to care enough about them together to ship them so while they had some sweet moments, I never got onboard with the romance like I would have hoped.

This was not helped by the fact that this story had the one trope I hate more than anything: the ‘bitchy/bullying girlfriend’ trope. You know the one where the love interest already has a girlfriend so to make it okay that our MC is interested in him - and to make our protagonist seem better in comparison - the LI’s girlfriend is either the dumb/vain cheerleading type or a bitchy mean girl/bully. In this story, Court does not have a girlfriend persay but a ex-girlfriend with an ego who bullies our protagonist and her best friend. I seriously hate this trope with a passion! It comes across just as cheap and shallow as a poorly written villain. No one likes a villain when all they do is evilly cackle as they plan to blow up the whole world for no good reason. For the same reasons, I don’t like antagonists without proper motivations and I really don’t like poorly developed female character who perpetuate stereotypes. This was a major problem for me.

The plotline was also a little bit too… all of the place. I wished the story had focused on one thing and ran with it. I liked that Mim’s relationship with her mother was central to the story and I wouldn’t have minded if we solely focused on that. I think adding in friendship drama, blackmail, secret potion-making escapades and romance was a bit too much at times. Maybe just because it felt like Mim’s excursions were excuses for romantic scenes with Court rather than anything else (and I had no investment in their relationship)? I just wish that the storyline had been more streamlined.

With all that being said, I absolutely adored the aromateur and potion-making aspects of this story. My God, Lee’s writing was just so vivid in these sections! I could practically smell/taste the plants she was describing. I loooved this part of the story so much, and for that alone, I would have been happy to give this book a chance. I did struggle to understand the aromateur culture and the purpose of their rules, especially the one where the cannot profit of their gift. I’m not sure how they were expected to make enough money to live comfortably? But the actual idea of everyone having a distinctive smell and being about to tap into these and weave potions from plant life is just… I love it so much! I would honestly read a boring old handbook about this if Lee published it.


The Secret of a Heart Note was my first Stacey Lee book but definitely not my last. I adored her writing style and the vividness of her descriptions. She created an amazing protagonist in Mim who I couldn’t help but adore but while I completely fell in love with some aspects of the story, I really did not connect to Court or the romance. This plummeted my overall enjoyment of the story and made it hard for me to read. I do still recommend this one to readers who think it sounds like their sort of thing but I’m hoping Lee’s backlist titles will be more my thing.

Review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,120 reviews1,365 followers
November 23, 2016

Stacey Lee has fast become one of my favorite YA authors. She pens stories that are real, raw and hopeful, the kind of stories that anyone can relate to no matter what cultural background they come from. Every time I pick up a book by her, I know I’m in for a treat. The Secret of A Heart Note is a veering from her past historical novels, but it was just as beautiful of a story as Under A Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon were.

Like with Lee’s other stories, there are prevalent themes throughout The Secret of a Heart Note, one of them being family, as you can tell from the title of this post. She excels at developing relationships and at showing all the nuances and complexities there are to relationships. Here, we are privy to the complicated, yet heartfelt relationship between a mother and a daughter. Mim and her mother come from a long line of aromateurs – they can smell heart notes and figure out people’s personalities and make love potions for them. With that kind of family legacy, comes a lot of expectations. This story is about Mim’s struggles with these expectations. While she enjoys creating these potions, part of her desires a normal teenage experience and she battles with that throughout the story. Family expectations can be rough on teenagers and I loved how deeply Stacey Lee explored that here. There were tense moments between Mim and her mother, but there were also those scenes that portrayed the pure love and respect they had for each other. It was a complicated and messy relationship, but it was inherently very authentic.

Mim, herself as a protagonist, was more on the quiet side, her abilities not really allowing her to find her place in life. After a drastic mistake on her part, she goes on an incredibly journey, discovering her true self along the way. I loved her growth throughout The Secret of a Heart Note. She also finds love on her path, with a sweet-hearted boy who challenges her all the way. The romance, while very very subtle, was heartwarming. I would have liked to know Court a little better, but this was Mim’s story and I didn’t really mind that. The love story, while a crucial part of the story, wasn’t the main focus. I have never quite read a story like The Secret of a Heart Note. It was very quirky with all the elixir-making, and surprisingly, those were my favorite scenes of the book. I loved all the descriptions of the scents, the process of making the elixirs and the effect of using these potions. There was something very magical about the whole thing.

With the amount of books I’m lucky enough to read in a year, I don’t remember every story that I’ve read, but I can wholeheartedly say that The Secret of a Heart Note is going to be that exceptional book that I will remember for a long time. If you’re looking for a special YA story, then this magical realism book might be right up your alley.
Profile Image for Sarah Glenn Marsh.
Author 21 books774 followers
October 17, 2016
I can't recommend this beauty highly enough!

If you're a fan of clever female protags (and who isn't?!), slow-burn romance, quirky characters, and the most wonderful, lush, vivid prose that engages all your senses...pick this book up ASAP!

I'm normally a pretty quick reader, but I limited myself to a few chapters a night on this one, because I wanted to savor every page and stay in Mim's world as long as possible--and I'm glad I did, because I'm bummed that it's over now. This story is *gorgeous*, *fun*, and *full of heart!*

Have I convinced you to try it yet? Go, go!
Profile Image for Mónica Bustamante Wagner.
Author 4 books113 followers
April 4, 2015
This book!! I love this book--even though I read an early version, I thought it was sooo original. I loved the elixir magic, how the love witches mixed the spells, and how they worked. Mim, the protag is a sweet girl, and I like that there's forbidden romance (!!) and she messes up things with a potion and.... oh, man. I can't wait for this one to be officially out! :D
Profile Image for Jenna.
569 reviews237 followers
March 31, 2017
This review also appears on my blog, Reading with Jenna.

I have a few Stacey Lee books at home on my shelf but The Secret of a Heart Note is the first one that I’ve picked up, and it absolutely blew me away. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately and this was just what I needed. It was not only cute and a feel-good read, but also a really refreshing contemporary story with a sprinkle of magical realism.

This book follows Mimosa, who is one of two aromateurs left on the planet. Her role as an aromateur involves making love elixirs and playing matchmakers for the clients who visit her and her mother for help. These elixirs are based on the scents or notes of her clients and there are lots of intricacies involved. Mim has a superior sense of smell because of her being an aromateur, which brings a lot of pros but a few cons as well. There are lots of rules involved and not all of the rules are agreeable to Mim, especially the one dictating that she must never find love in her own life, or she’ll cease to be an aromateur due to her superior olfactory senses fading away. Having just recently gotten her reluctant mother to allow her to attend high school, rather than continuing to be home-schooled, Mim finds her time as a student in jeopardy when she accidentally gives the wrong target a love elixir. In order to fix this problem, she requires the help of Court, the rich boy and school soccer star, but quickly finds herself falling for him.

I thought this story was so adorable. It was whimsical and fun and I have to say that the magical realism really added to the story here. It made it a really unique and refreshing read and I fell in love with it from page one. But that wasn’t the only thing that I loved about the story. I really enjoyed all of the relationships that were explored in this book and I loved that it wasn’t only about romance but was also about familial love and the relationship between Mim and her mother. With the weight of the world and the family aromateur legacy on her shoulders, Mim has always felt that she needed to be exceptional in order to not disappoint her mother and to uphold the legacy of her family, even though she longs to just be an ordinary girl. It was really great to see Stacey Lee explore that in detail and to focus on those family elements in the novel. But that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the romance between Court and Mim. I found it to be really endearing and sweet, and I looked forward to every scene with the two of them. I liked the dynamics of the relationship, especially the forbidden love aspects, and it’s one of my favourite romance stories that I’ve read so far this year.

I also loved almost every single character in the book but Mim was definitely my favourite. She was an extremely relatable character because, while she had an extraordinary gift, her wants, desires and though processes were really ordinary and relatable. I admired her tenacity and her wanting to set things right whenever she made mistakes and I loved following her on her journey. I also absolutely loved Court, even though sometimes he made rash decisions that frustrated me. The other side characters in the book were all a lot of fun to read about and I really loved the reading experience because of how much fun I had reading about the characters and their antics.

Overall, I absolutely loved The Secret of a Heart Note. It was an extremely unique read and I finished it in two sittings because I was so captivated by the story. It’s one of my favourite books that I’ve read so far this year and I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a light read that will leave you with all the warm and fuzzies.
Profile Image for Selin.
198 reviews
April 8, 2021
”Ey Kokubaz, aşk tuzaklarını kur ancak onlara yakalanmaktan kendini sakın.”

Mimosa dünyadaki son iki kokubazdan biridir.Bir diğeri ise annesidir.Çiçeklerle, aşk iksirleriyle, çöpçatanlıkla ve bolca koklamayla geçen bir hayatları vardır.Başkalarının aşk hayatlarına katkıda bulunabilselerde kendi aşk hayatlarını yaşamaları yasaktır.Çünkü eğer aşık olurlarsa tek sahip oldukları yetenek olan hassas koku alma duyusunu geri dönülemez şekilde kaybederler.Bunun en büyük örneği teyzesi Bryony’dir.

Mimosa hem kokubazlığı hem de lise hayatını bir arada yürütebileceğini annesine kanıtlamak istiyordur ve bunun için de mükemmel bir fırsat bulmuştur.Matematik öğretmeni hoşlandığı kütüphaneci için bir iksir ister.İksir hazırlanır, kütüphanecinin yanına gidilir ve masasındaki kahveye dökülür.Ancak kahve kütüphanecinin değil, Mimosa’nın hoşlandığı çocuğun yani Court’ün annesinindir ve gözleri önünde kadın kahveyi bir güzel içmiştir.İşte bundan sonrası bol aşklı ve kokulu bir koşturmaca.

Çok güzel bir kitaptı.Keyifle okunacak bir kitap arıyorsanız buldunuz demektir.Her insandan parfüm gibi notalı kokuların yayılması, duyguların bile kokularının olması çok güzeldi.Ayrıca kokubazlar kokubaz poleni yaydıkları için erkekler size direk aşık oluyor ve bunu engellemek için bir iksir sıkmanız gerekiyor, bu kısım da çok hoşuma gitti.Genel olarak ben çok sevdim, tavsiyemdir.
Profile Image for fem.
165 reviews70 followers
August 12, 2017
well i am glad i finally finished this. bored me to death.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
670 reviews1,714 followers
December 27, 2016

I had the privilege of winning this book through the author's giveaway! Many thanks to the publisher for providing an advanced readers copy. 

Have you ever felt that pure sense of contentment after finishing a book? That's how I felt after reading The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee. What a lovely, lovely book.

In The Secret of a Heart Note, we see the extraordinary, unique, and magical life of being an aromateur. Paired with Lee’s splendid writing, Mim’s perspective was enjoyable and utterly unique. I loved learning about Mim’s world of being an aromateur, her struggles, and her way of life. The narrative evokes the olfactory senses with a variety of scents and smells intertwining with the storytelling. What I loved was that Lee used simple smells that readers are likely to be familiar with – blueberries, burned tires, and plums – rather than obscure smells (I can never imagine the smell of 'sandalwood'!), making it easier to imagine and connect to the writing.

The characters in this story were delightful. Beginning with Mim, a lovely but lonely protagonist who does her absolute best despite her setbacks; Mim’s friend Kali, a force of her own, Samoan, brave, and true; Court, Mim’s kind, sweet love interest; and of course, Mim’s mother, Dahli, strict, tough, but absolutely loving. Though all characters were different from each other, I enjoyed their characterizations, their stories, and watching them develop as the story unfolded. More so, each character had their quirks, and the amazingly written interactions between the characters captured the realistic highs and lows that come with friendship and family. The Secret of a Heart Note also has a diversity of positive representation, which was refreshing and delightful to read.

At its gooey centre though, The Secret of a Heart Note is ultimately about love. Among its themes are familial love, friendship and the love between two friends, romantic love, and also the very nature of love. As aromateurs, Mim and her mother help people fall in love and find happiness. But, the book asks: What does it take to fall in love? Can love and falling in love be influenced, shaped, moulded? The story offers a fresh angle on these questions and accentuates the small things about love – its joys, its mysteries, and its moments of heartache.

A true highlight of the book was the complicated and dynamic relationship between Mim and her mother that was beautifully developed. While Mim struggles with the expectations of being the aromateur that her mother expects her to be, her mother’s high and inexpressible hope for Mim burdens them both. What I loved was that there was berth for imperfection in their relationship; not only was it realistic, but it was well-written and portrayed in a genuine and honest way.

I also loved the tentative friendship between Mim and Kali. Though their friendship isn't intimate or very close, there's a tenderness there when the two interact and I loved it. Their friendship depicts a friendship we don't often seen in YA - a friendship that is special, where they do right by each other, but without the closeness common in YA. It was realistic, refreshing, and a little bittersweet.

The Secret of a Heart Note is a heartfelt story about the eccentricities and mysteries of love and falling in love. It is an exceptional coming-of-age. It explores a bit about family, a bit about friendship, and a bit about destiny. Recommended for those who want a heartfelt and light read, The Secret of a Heart Note is a gorgeous, gorgeous story filled with the sweet, bittersweet, and beautiful scents of life.

Rating: 4/5


This review can also be found on my book blog, Read, Think, Ponder!
Profile Image for Lauren  (TheBookishTwins) .
467 reviews203 followers
February 4, 2017
Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.

Mimosa is one of the last aromateurs on the planet. As an aromateur she can smell emotions, personality traits and heart notes and everything else that she needs to concoct elixirs that help people fall in love. Yet she must remain alone. The rules for aromateurs state that if she falls in love, her nose becomes useless. But Mim has dreams of being normal, of going to high school, falling in love and having a boyfriend. When she gives a love elixir to the wrong woman, Mim rushes to fix her mistake with the help of Court, the lovesick woman's son the high school soccer star.

The Secret of A Heart Note is a fun, light-hearted, and cute read. But it's even more because it's also original, magical and full of hopes and dreams. Mim is a curious, intelligent, kind and caring protagonist. I really enjoyed the slow burn, realistic romance between Court and Mim, but I think the real gem is the relationships Mim has with the women close to her, such as her mother, her aunt and her best friend.

It has such a unique premise and I loved how Stacey Lee used flowers and scents to write such a compelling story and I loved Mim's passion for her gift and her unwillingness to choose between her gift and living a normal, teenage life.

The Secret of A Heart Note was a lovely, heart-warming read that I can't recommend enough. Seriously, put it on your TBR already.
Profile Image for sil ♡ the book voyagers.
1,124 reviews2,822 followers
July 13, 2016
I know this book doesn't release until December but I blame Sue for telling me how cute this book was and making me read it asap. I don't blame her now because it was just what I wanted and I wanted to keep reading The Secret of a Heart Note forever.

It's a cute book with a plot that intrigued me so much, seriously the plot is magical and sweet and interesting to the thousands. Mim, the main character, is so intelligent and caring for other people. She thrives and is optimistic and I love her. Court is my newest book boyfriend *hey babe*, he's there with Clark from TUE by Morgan Matson.

Family dynamics, friendships, high school life, scents and love potions - you can expect lots from this book. Stacey has become one of my fave authors indeed.

Full review closer to release date!
Profile Image for Forever Young Adult.
3,060 reviews428 followers
December 27, 2016
Graded By: Jennie
Cover Story: Behold, The Field In Which I Gather My Scents
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 8
Talky Talk: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme
Bonus Factors: Gardening, Diversity, Bay Area
Relationship Status: High School Sweetheart

Read the full book report here.
Profile Image for Kelly Gilbert.
Author 4 books401 followers
February 29, 2016
Charming, funny, romantic, and so quintessentially Stacey Lee. I loved this book.
Profile Image for Mandy.
458 reviews46 followers
December 24, 2016
SUPER cute. Reminds me of PRACTICAL MAGIC for the YA set, with the witch who can't fall in love. (And also SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE, with the love elixirs, but that was a worse movie.)
Profile Image for Laurence R..
617 reviews86 followers
February 7, 2017
I finished this book, but I don't think it cured my book slump :(
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