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by Sarah Creech

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-230752-1
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

For generations, the Lenore women have crafted an enchanted perfume, but the return of the prodigal daughter—heralded by teeming blue dragonflies—threatens to break the spell.

It all began when Serena Lenore eloped with Dr. Alex Danner and moved to Borneo, where they raised two daughters in exotic bliss. Just before returning to the U.S., Serena discovered a rare variety of gardenia that seemed to respond, sentiently, to her touch, releasing a beguiling perfume. Once home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, she develops a rather magical perfume: Whoever wears it experiences success. Cleverly, Serena and her female descendants build a business, choosing discreet clients. Now, her granddaughter, Willow, is the matriarch of the family. Her older daughter, Mya, stands to inherit the business, given that she has stayed home, tending to Willow and the plants. Her younger daughter, Lucia, unfortunately, has no facility with scents and left the farm years ago to pursue an acting career. But now her marriage and career have fallen apart, and she has nowhere to go but home. Home, where Willow is forgetting things and Mya is tempted to change the perfume formula to get rid of a troublesome client. Tinkering with the elixir, however, risks invoking Serena’s curse. Once Lucia arrives, she begins to exhibit talents that may make her Mya’s rival. Willow’s emotions can cause storms to rise and tree branches to fall, Mya can concoct magic potions, Lucia begins to see ominous black clouds over a certain doomed character, and the flowers themselves are charmed, but these elements seem incidental. And while the characters certainly have romances—even Willow discovers a long-forgotten love—the romance seems rote.   

Debut novelist Creech offers a romance embroidered with magical realism, yet the magic lacks, well, magic.