Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Published by: Simon Pulse
Pub Date: April 16, 2019
Format: arc | Source: publisher
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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.
Jenn Bennett is one of my auto-buy authors- she writes such complex, quirky characters with heart, humor, and unique immersive settings that are a joy to read. I practically begged Simon Pulse for an arc of Serious Moonlight, as it was one of my top anticipated books of the year (thank you to them for sending it! Receiving the free arc in no way affected my opinion or review). Unfortunately I think my expectations might have been a bit too high. I also had some stressful personal things going on last month when I was reading, so it’s possible my mood affected my reading more than normal too.
Some positives: I loved the Seattle setting! I loved the Clue murder mystery dinner date. I loved learning more about Daniel, a partially deaf Japanese coworker/love interest of Birdie’s that has charm to spare. His mom was wonderful too! I loved Birdie’s name and her unconventional upbringing. She has really complex relationships with all of the people in her life. This did add a heaviness to the book that I didn’t fully expect. And as much as I wanted to love her Aunt Mona, I couldn’t connect with her (even though she’s basically my age, oy vey).
I also didn’t love when Birdie made mental case files for people she was trying to figure out. It’s cute in theory, page layout wise, but it tended to distract me. I did enjoy the movie quotes at every chapter heading! Something that I also really appreciate is Jenn’s tendency to include realistic, mature conversations about consent in her books; it’s so important.
I wish I could put my finger on what didn’t work for me with this title, and fully recognize it could have been me. I do think that contemporary readers and fans of Jenn Bennett should definitely pick it up and decide for themselves. It’s a wonderfully written book and I can’t wait for more from her in the future!
Do you ever hype up a book too much in your own mind? Even when it’s by a favorite author? Are you a contemporary romance reader? Let me know!