Stop & Smell the Roses // ARC Review: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

Book: The Secret of a Heart Note 

Format: ARC, paperback

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Goodreads Summary: 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.

My Thoughts Graphic

As you all probably know by now, I am a huge fan of Stacey Lee’s books, and getting an ARC for TSOAHN was a surreal feeling. I’m not a huge fan of contemporaries, but I pushed that aside, sat down, and began to read.

The Secret of a Heart Note absolutely blew me away.

Though all five senses are important in writing, it was really interesting to read a book where smell played such a huge role. In most books I’ve read, feelings are sensations, like fear trickling down my spine or anxiety twisting my stomach into knots. But Mim categorizes these feelings as scents, like heartache and blueberries, or curiosity and rooibos. It really brought Mim to life, because it shows how her upbringing as an aromateur shapes the way she views things.

The Secret of a Heart Note has a central theme: love. And while love is often accompanied by romance, this romance didn’t overwhelm the plot. Court and Mim’s growing relationship as acquaintances-to-friends-to-maybe-more-than-friends only served to enhance the problems Mim faces and bring Mim and Court to life. Court and Mim don’t fall flat on the page–they’re very much alive. And written like their age. Nothing about them seemed forced and watching their relationship unfold on the page was simply beautiful.

Mim’s relationships with her mother and her best friend, Kali, add so much to Mim’s character development.  She’s trying to balance the family expectation that she’ll be an aromateur, her own dreams of going to school and being a mostly normal teenager, and unexpected friendship problems. It’s such a true reflection of teenage life.

Furthermore, Mim and Kali are POCs, which I LOVED. The background characters aren’t all white, either, which was awesome to read.


Kali identifies as queer. I wasn’t expecting to read LGBT+ rep but I started crying when she came out to the school. It was a joyful shock to feel represented on the page. Even though I’m aro-ace, it was so amazing to see community representation on the page. 


The Secret of a Heart Note is one of the best books I’ve read this year. From a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat to characters that leap off the page, this is a book you don’t want to miss. It releases next week on the 27th, so mark your calendars and plan a trip to the book store 🙂

Rating: 5 stars

Check out this awesome review from Claire (@ Blank Slaters)!




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