It’s been hundreds of years since King Arthur’s reign. His descendant, Arthur, a future Lord and general gadabout, has been betrothed to Gwendoline, the quick-witted, short-tempered princess of England, since birth. The only thing they can agree on is that they despise each other.
They’re forced to spend the summer together at Camelot in the run up to their nuptials, and within 24 hours, Gwen has discovered Arthur kissing a boy and Arthur has gone digging for Gwen’s childhood diary and found confessions about her crush on the kingdom’s only lady knight, Bridget Leclair.
Realizing they might make better allies than enemies, they make a reluctant pact to cover for each other, and as things heat up at the annual royal tournament, Gwen is swept off her feet by her knight and Arthur takes an interest in Gwen’s royal brother.
The best part of “Gwen & Art Are Not In Love” by Lex Croucher are the beautiful relationships, especially the deep friendship that develops between Art and Gwen when they become allies. Part of what resonates with me is how each learns from the other, not how to be perfect but how to be brave in choosing what they want and standing strong against the ideas or people that would deny them love. This book is all about embracing your true self even when it is difficult to do so.
I love how deftly Lex Croucher weaves in the complicated relationships and the dynamics each has with their fathers. I also love the very real consequences, that none comes out unscathed but each chooses what is most important to them. The novel teaches us to love, not just those around us but also ourselves.
If you love LGBTQ love stories, stories about family and love of all kinds, this is the novel for you. It has beautiful relationships, complex characters, complicated dynamics and is a completely glorious Arthurian story that feels like a cross between Heartstopper and A Knight’s Tale. And like both those stories, its very much about embracing your truth and loving yourself and those around you.
Rating: 5 ouf of 5 Excaliburs