Goodreads: Serious Moonlight
After having a one-night stand, Birdie really does not want to see Daniel again–not even if he’s incredibly hot. But she’s working her first-ever job as a night-shift employee at a Seattle hotel and he just happens to work there, too. Birdie wants to avoid Daniel, but he gives her an offer her mystery-loving heart can’t resist: help him discover why a famous author is checking into the hotel every week, but only staying a few hours. Birdie and Daniel are on the case. But Birdie may lose her heart in the process.
Jenn Bennett has done it again. Serious Moonlight is a sweet contemporary romance about deciding what one wants in life and whether one has the courage to pursue it. In this book, Birdie is a somewhat introverted teen who has been homeschooled much of her life and is excited to have the opportunity to have her first job–even if it is the night shift a local hotel. However, she is stunned to find out her co-worker is Daniel, the hot guy she had a one-night stand with, and she’s unsure how close she is willing to let him get. He promises her they can solve a mystery together, which appeals to her bookish heart. But, as time goes on, she realizes the mystery is becoming less important to her than her feelings for Daniel. Readers who love contemporary YA romance will find this one enchanting.
Even though the book jacket promises readers a mystery, readers will likely have a more positive experience with the book if they go in realizing the mystery will not necessarily be a key part of this story. It is mainly a vehicle to have Daniel and Birdie hang out together, go on dates, and reveal parts of their past to each other. As the novel progresses, the mystery falls to the wayside a little as Birdie begins to question what she wants out of life. Does she want Daniel? How badly? Does she want to sleep with him again? Does he want to sleep wit her? Should they sleep with each to determine if they’re compatible? Because what if they’re not?
The book has gotten a lot of positive reviews from readers pleased that it features a one-night stand (somewhat unusual in YA) and that it features sex positivity. I have mixed feelings on this as I think the message of, “Sex can be messy and imperfect” is essentially muddled as Birdie and Daniel (SPOILERS ahead in this paragraph) eventually have such a perfect sex life that they use up a box of condoms in one go (after their third try). Then they’re basically like, I don’t know, sex machines? Always sleeping together and it’s the best ever! I appreciate a book that says, “Hey, the first time can be awkward,” but, then it just goes on to make everything perfect all the time anyway, which seems unrealistic, especially combined with Daniel who (like the protagonist in Alex, Approximately) is basically a walking advertisement for what men are supposed to act like when sex is involved. I just don’t know that the average teenage guy is going to reach that level of perfect sensitivity, but I guess the book is aspirational and encouraging women to be treated with respect, so that’s good.
I did feel like Birdie’s character development got a little lost in the attempt to balance the mystery and the sex positivity message. Drama is created by the author telling us Birdie has issues, but I never felt like those issues were integrated organically into the story or the character. Birdie has to give Daniel a big speech about them before I realized they were even supposed to be a part of the plot. And, eventually, I felt like her issues where left a little unresolved. (More spoilers ahead in this paragraph!) Yeah, she’s in a relationship with Daniel, but does it only work out because sex is perfect all the time? If it’s not one day, will she question their relationship? And what will she do if Daniel wants to leave one day? Can she actually handle rejection? Readers don’t know. We only know that Birdie seems to be doing okay right now because nothing is really going wrong in her relationship–she’s not being challenged to handle adversity in any way. If she can’t handle adversity, she really has not matured.
Overall, however, I think the book portrays a sweet romance. Readers will likely feel sympathy for Birdie, especially introverted ones who feel a little naive (or like others are always assuming they are naive). Birdie is a promise to them that they can branch out, do new things, even do kind of wild and unacceptable (illegal?) things. She’s the age-old shy girl who “finds herself” by stepping out of her comfort zone–and finds love in the process. A sure hit with readers of contemporary YA romance.