If you remember my A Summer of Romance! post you’ll remember that I love Jenn Bennett’s books. I saw this baby on NetGalley and couldn’t slam the “request” button fast enough. Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.
After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.
Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.
In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.
Much like Jenn Bennett’s other books, I really enjoyed Serious Moonlight. It was cute, the plot was interesting, and I love how Birdie and Daniel’s relationship begins. However, I didn’t like the amount of back and forth between the two characters and I thought the beginning was kind of slow.
Birdie and Daniel begin their relationship in a very unconventional way, especially for a YA book. I’ve always appreciated how Jenn Bennett normalizes sex in her books. She doesn’t make it a hugely important part of the book and she doesn’t brush it under the rug. By naturally incorporating sex into her books she makes it less taboo which is very important for teens who may feel uncomfortable talking to someone about it. She also makes sure to mention condoms, so extra bonus points for advocating for safe sex!
Anyway, Birdie and Daniel begin their relationship with an embarrassing one night stand and must learn how to have a professional relationship after that. Individually, Birdie and Daniel are both pretty strong characters. Birdie is dealing with loss and narcolepsy while Daniel is dealing with his own dark secrets (spoilers, so I’m not telling!). Birdie is a mystery fiend and Daniel loves the art of magic. They have a cute dynamic throughout the book and I’m beyond glad it wasn’t an instalove situation.
Although I enjoyed their relationship on the whole, I think they had a lot of unnecessary back and forth. They would discuss where they stand, I would think the issue was resolved, and three chapters later they would go over the same issue. Repeat this every couple of chapters and that’s what the middle of the book felt like. Can you see where my annoyance is coming from? Maybe I was misinterpreting their conversations, but this seemed to happen a lot more than it needed to. I understand that they’re teenagers and things aren’t always settled with one conversation but c’mon, it’s a bit crazy.
The mystery plotline was interesting and has a mostly-surprise ending. I had the sense of where it was going but still enjoyed the direction the author decided to go with it. Vague, I know, but spoilers! The middle of the book seemed to concentrate more heavily on Birdie and Daniel’s relationship with each other and those around them, which I enjoyed, but I also missed the mystery theme. But, I know its a romance book and not a mystery book, so I can deal *sigh*.
I was a bit bored in the beginning but after a few chapters the plot really picked up and stayed relatively consistent. I might not have loved all the little plot points but, on the whole, I enjoyed the story. It maintained a steady balance between romance and mystery, humor and seriousness, and individual growth and relationship growth (personal and familial). I’ll freely admit that I prefer Starry Eyes over Serious Moonlight but I did enjoy this book. It covers a lot of great serious topics, digs deep into different relationships, and still manages to be cute and funny. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!