Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
April 16, 2019, from Simon & Schuster
Young adult contemporary romance
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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 the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.
I seem to be reading a lot of romance lately, and Serious Moonlight is pretty much on par with how I tend to read romance books; I liked it, but it didn’t blow me away. I definitely think that Jenn Bennett is one of the authors I like when it comes to romance, though, because of how fun and positive they tend to be, and Serious Moonlight was no different.
Jenn Bennett is really excellent at creating these quirky, fun worlds and characters that are on the brink of being overbearing. I found this book toed the line of how much quirkiness I’m willing to read about while suspending my disbelief. Both Birdie and Daniel are very larger-than-life characters, despite being fairly introverted, and while I found them really cute I just didn’t really see them as real people. It’s not a bad thing, per se, but especially in contemporary I tend to like characters that seem like people. Aunt Mona I really struggled with, honestly. I just struggled to see her as a realistic character.
But otherwise, this book was so cozy and atmospheric. I was expecting the mystery aspect of the book to be more in the forefront, but I’m not even mad that it wasn’t because it still gives off those kinds of vibes. That is to say: slightly spooky, old, quiet… (or maybe it’s just the haunted hotel I’m writing this review in). Seattle was a perfect setting for this book, and Jenn Bennett’s love for classic film really shines through even if all the references soared right over my head.
Another thing I really appreciated was the diversity of the characters and how it discusses grief, disability, and mental illness. Seeing an Asian boy with depression as a cute love interest was actually really great. And seeing Birdie struggle with grief over a long period of time and how that affected her will definitely help teens feel less alone if they’ve lost people. This book is really light-hearted while dealing with some serious topics, but it’s not a serious book—it’s still a sweet rom-com in the end. I love that this manages to be a love story that doesn’t give off the problematic “love cures everything” trope.
I feel like romance fans will definitely enjoy Serious Moonlight, especially if you’re a fan of Jenn Bennett. And if you’re not, definitely give her books a try.
content warnings: parental death, grief, mental illness, mentions of suicide
Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy!
3 thoughts on “ARC Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett”
This book sounds so cozy and cute 🙂
It is super cute!!