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The quest for a stolen perfume formula awakens passion, rivalry and family secrets in the fragrant flower fields of the South of France...
Perfumer Zoe Flore travels to Grasse, perfume capital of the world, to collect a formula: her inheritance from the family she never knew existed. The scent matches the one worn by her mother, who passed away when Zoe was a teenager. Zoe, competing to create a new fragrance for a prestigious designer, believes this scent could win the contract—and lead her to the reason her mother fled Grasse for New York City. Before Zoe can discover the truth, the formula is stolen. And she’s not the only one looking for it. So is Loulou, her rebellious teenage cousin; Philippe, her alluring competitor for the fragrance contract; and a third person who never wanted the formula to slip into the public in the first place.
The pursuit transforms into a journey of self-discovery as each struggles to understand the complexities of love, the force of pride and the meaning of family.
"Zoe was tired of creating the ordinary. She yearned to capture the diaphanous, the element of magic. That was the key to becoming an exceptional perfumer."
The first thing that attracted me to this book was the luscious cover! Gorgeous. Overall it proved to be a well written mystery, all revolving around the stolen formula for a fragrance. All Zoe has is the memories of her mother and one particular fragrance that she associates with her. It was very interesting to learn about the details that go into creating a fragrance - the whole corporate competition, combined with family infighting surrounding the creation of a winning fragrance - was new to me and noteworthy. Likewise, the descriptions of scents that are scattered all over the book, adds to the whole scentual experience; and finally, the setting in the south of France, is the final aspect that, all in all, provides for a pleasurable escape.
"Pleasure came like the rhythm of a perfume: starting with the energetic burst of top notes, and finishing with the richness and depth of the base."
The disappointment for me was that I never fully invested in any of the characters. I would have loved to learn more about Zoe's mother, who is never fully involved or described. With her being so crucial to the whole plot, it would have been good to learn more about her as we went along, as opposed to this unknown mystery always being daggled throughout the story; the famous mother, always living in the shadows, and never really learning enough about her. This, then, has a flow on effect to our overall appreciation (in my opinion).
"She wanted to believe that this woman who could produce the scent of warm Floridian sand and early morning sunshine was a fanciful as her creations."
The characters were, at times, a little too stereotypical and I was more interested in the missing fragrant formula and recreating, or attempting to recreate, the long lost scent. Maybe due to the competitive theme throughout the tale, I found some characters to be dislikable, or silly and very self absorbed. I did not really swallow the 'insta-love', there were lots of 'unwanted tears' and that door was slammed so many times, it's a wonder it did not fall off its hinges:
"for the very last time, she had slammed the front door of the house."
What kept me going was the mystery, and how it unfolded in the end, made me happy I persevered. Finally learning the secret behind the creation of her mother's scent was interesting. I just wish the author had not saved it all up for the final few pages.