Serious Moonlight – Jenn Bennett – Simon Pulse – Published 16 April 2019
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 has created a seriously loveable, amazingly-sweet and swoon-worthy story in Serious Moonlight. I loved this from first page to last. It recaptured for me the beauty and night-time mystery of Night Owls, which is my favourite of all her titles, but Serious Moonlight has given it a pretty good run for its money. With romance that has a rocky start but digs deep into the heart of relationships, connections and chemistry; family complications that are both heartbreaking and hilarious; and a touching story about growing up, Serious Moonlight is a perfect crossover between young adult and new adult fiction that older teens (and older readers) will absolutely love.
Meeting that charming guy in her favourite diner, Birdie didn’t expect to end up in the back seat of his car – nor find herself hightailing it out of there without a word of goodbye. She wants to shake the entire encounter from her mind and is horrified to discover that Daniel will be her coworker for the summer at her new night job at the glamorous Cascadia Hotel. A mystery lover and amateur detective, Birdie’s plan to ignore Daniel backfires when he reveals a real-life mystery happening at the hotel and offers to partner with Birdie to reveal the hidden identity of a famous writer. But spending so much time with outgoing and charming Daniel is confusing, especially with her growing feelings for him.
Serious Moonlight has a lot of crossovers with my favourite of Bennett’s titles, Night Owls (aka The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, but I read it first as Night Owls and, even though our library copy is the ASoaH edition, for me it will always remain Night Owls). Both books are set on the upper West coast of the US. Both books are predominately set during the night, giving the story a fairy-light-lit, magical and slightly misty (Serious Moonlight is set in eternally drizzling Seattle) air. Both books contain the most amazing, sex-positive and up-front romance story. In fact, Serious Moonlight feels more like a crossover into New Adult fiction territory, both as a lot of the romance plot is set around sex and due to the characters’ ages (18 and 19) and time of life as they are finished school and moving into careers and further education.
There truly is something a little magic about this book. It just glows and I loved every minute of it. From the all-too-real confusion and embarrassment Birdie feels as she navigates her relationship with Daniel, to the hilarious moments between family (Birdie’s aunt and grandfather are amazing and I loved Daniel’s family). And can I just say that card trick Daniel does???? Whew. Be still my beating heart.
So, Serious Moonlight is going down as one of my absolute favourite titles. There is plenty of mystery, intrigue, romance, family drama, and soul searching to please any reader, so I can very highly recommend it.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Romance, sex and dating, family, mystery, coming of age, working, employment, night, narcolepsy, sleep, relationships.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Frequent sexual references, references to sex scenes and sexual relationship. References to casual drug use (marijuana). Coarse language, f*** (21), sh** (48), wh*** (1), di** (3), as***** (9)
Published: 16 April 2019 by Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 432 pages.