Title: Serious Moonlight
Author: Jenn Bennett
Release Date: April 16th 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Goodreads Rating: 4.16 (of 254 ratings)
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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 most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Simon Pulse. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book.
Last year, I absolutely devoured Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett, and when I discovered this book, I was screeching to anyone that could listen that I needed it. The premise sounded amazing: hotel, mystery, and a romance! Put altogether it sounded like it could be something really amazing, and I knew Bennett could do amazing since Starry Eyes ended up as a favorite.
This book was…well, it wasn’t Starry Eyes, for sure. It wasn’t terrible, but honestly, it dragged so long and felt like I was stuck in a time loop that I really lost a lot of the excitement that I felt with Bennett’s previous novel. There were definitely cute moments and some good writing, but I definitely got a bit lost through the repetition and dense material.
Birdie and Daniel are our two main characters. Birdie is a mystery novel fiend and is just starting a new job working the graveyard shift at iconic Seattle hotel. She’s excited to step out of the house and start a new chapter in her life, but two things immediately go wrong: her narcolepsy is getting worst with these late hours and her one night fling that she ran away from is now her new co-worker. When a mystery presents itself in the form of a mysterious hotel guest who just might be an elusive novelist, Daniel and Birdie team up.
There are quite a few different plots going on. There is the search for the identity of the mysterious hotel guest who might be the famed mystery novel; there is the romance between Daniel and Birdie; Birdie’s fight with controlling her narcolepsy; Daniel and Birdie’s self journeys; and more. Honestly, for me, the best storyline was the mystery aspect. I was most intrigued with Birdie and Daniel sleuthing moments and trying to guess where this was going. However, by a certain time in the novel, I honestly forgot that was going on, because it had fully slipped back into full on contemporary and we were kind of lost in a bunch of different subplots. There is a really good twist in that particular plotline, and I didn’t see it coming – but it was nicely done. However, I did get bored with some of the other plots.
The pacing was a little slow, too. 400 page contemporaries are always a hard sell. If it’s a fantasy novel, 400 pages are a lot easier to read since there is so much world building and action/adventure scenes. With 400 pages in a contemporary, there is honestly so much you can do. There were definitely moments that I felt could have been taken out and didn’t think that 400 pages was necessary since it started going so slow and drawn out. The beginning was fantastic, though, I think her setup of everything was just wonderful. Definitely the middle part was the hardest part to get through.
I did pretty much like the characters. There were some interesting characters. Birdie and Daniel were intriguing characters. I didn’t fully connect with them, but they were definitely realistic and messy and pretty likeable. They both brought amazing rep that I haven’t seen done in YA at all or not often. The only side character that really stood out was Aunt Mona, and I did love Birdie and her relationship. They had such chemistry, and I loved reading them together. I would have loved if hotel guests or more side characters had popped up since I had thought it would come more into play.
The romance was…like, it was cute but it got exhaustingggggg. It seemed like Birdie and Daniel would be on the same page for like 2 seconds and then there would INSTANTLY be doubt that they liked each other and wanted to be with each other and then they would be on the same page and THEN instantly back with the doubt and rinse, wash, and repeat. I get we were having tension, but dear gosh, I wanted to shout at the novel, like, YOU LIKE EACH OTHER. GET IT TOGETHER. DO I HAVE TO SING “KISS THE GIRL” BECAUSE MY LITTLE MERMAID ALTER EGO IS KING TRITON, NOT SEBASTIAN. They definitely had cuteness but dear gosh, I’m just tired thinking about the cycle.
The setting was a lot of fun. Bennett did an amazing job of placing us in Washington’s atmosphere, and I loved it. I’m all about the mood, and I felt so much mood from this story.
Overall, it was just okay. There were great things and so-so things. I guess I just wanted a bit more since Starry Eyes was so much perfection.
rating: 3 crowns and a Belle rating
representation: narcolepsy, Asian love interest, hearing impaired love interest
content warnings: overdose/suicide attempt (not shown but discussed), there was a joke regarding it
What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
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