Moonlight on Nightingale Way (On Dublin Street #6) by Samantha Young
While Moonlight on Nightingale Way can certainly stand as a solo novel – Young does a yeoman’s job of reminding readers of connections between the network of humans she’s created – it is a richer read treated as the culmination of the other books.
While Moonlight on Nightingale Way can certainly stand as a solo novel – Young does a yeoman’s job of reminding readers of connections between the network of humans she’s created – it is a richer read treated as the culmination of the other books. So, if you’ve never read any of these books, pick up Moonlight and then do yourself a favor and go back to On Dublin Street and dive into this world head first.
Moonlight stars Logan MacLeod – ticking the Scottish name box fully for this Edinburgh set series – and, as she haughtily introduces herself the first time, Miss Grace Farquhar of Kensington in London, complete with posh accent and poise to match. When the story begins, the two are neighbors, albeit not chummy ones. Grace takes exception to the rotating door of women Logan loudly entertains in his apartment and Logan takes exception to what an ice queen Grace is.
Towards the beginning of the book, another character appears which throws a wrench into their animosity and we begin to see the true characters beneath their public façade. We learn that Logan is recently out of prison, but that he was in there for, essentially, protecting his sister from assault and battery by a creeper ex-boyfriend. We learn that Grace’s biological family is significantly less than awesome and that her chosen family, built at university, is her emotional rock. As they grow closer, the emotional baggage of both of their respective pasts provide frequent challenges, but watching how Logan and Grace overcome those challenges makes the HEA even sweeter.
And while they’re overcoming those challenges, they use frequent and intense orgasms as a healing method. Not shabby. Young is fantastic at writing realistic but phenomenal sex scenes which always leave me in … a bit of a state, not gonna lie. I picked up On Dublin Street years ago on the recommendation of a friend who knew I was looking for a book with a great story but equally great sex and that friend was not wrong. I’ve read the series faithfully since.
As the culmination of a series I’ve read since the beginning, this felt perfect for me. I was simply rejoining friends I’ve already made as well as meeting new ones. Young provides just enough “wrapping up” of all of their lives to make me feel like all of these people are getting their full happily ever afters in the form of kids and dreams and holidays and business success and fulfillment and joy without making anything feel trite.
One of the themes of Moonlight is that biological families can sometimes be the worst part of someone’s life. Parents can be neglectful or abusive, siblings can be vindictive or violent and that some of the best people we know are survivors of their families. At one point, Logan and Grace have to go confront a neglectful mother in the neighboring city of Glasgow. The woman is an addict living in government housing who clearly has no affection for her teenage daughter and the woman’s boyfriend makes particularly inappropriate comments about the daughter. The whole scene reads as exactly what it is – reality for so many people.
In real life, Glasgow does have a proportionally high rate of drug addiction, particularly prescription painkillers, and coordinating rates of low educational achievement amongst working class or people living in abject poverty. The city suffers from the disease afflicting most post-industrial cities around the world; when the factories shut down, no jobs replaced them and a blanket of cultural despondency set in. I live in Belfast, just across the Irish Sea, and we have parallel struggles.
I love when romance novels touch on reality and then show the best possible outcomes from them as their version of the happily ever after we readers demand. The scenes in Glasgow drive home for me that balance. The teenage daughter connected to that scene finds freedom and love and redemption and flourishes into her true self and that journey is one of my favorite parts of the book. People make choices – constrained as they sometimes are by life circumstances – and Moonlight is a story of people consistently choosing love and authenticity and hope.
I recommend this for anyone who like stories set outside the U.S. (the descriptions and characterizations of Edinburgh are spot on), who like romantic relationships founded upon growing respect and emotional evolution and who are drawn to stories of sprawling, tribal families.