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Not to be Overlooked

Not to be Overlooked introduces a variety of wonderful but lesser-known books to assist readers in finding their next great reads. This week’s column covers a review of Gwen & Art Are Not in Love and At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities.

Gwen & Art are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

Reviewed by Natalia Alvarez

For this Pride Month issue, we focus on a novel that takes a new spin on an otherwise well-known tale. Lex Croucher’s newest novel, Gwen & Art Are Not in Love, follows a medieval group of characters living a few centuries after that of Arthurian legends, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. In this iteration, the main characters Gwendoline and Arthur are, as the title states, very much not in love. In fact, they do not even like each other, but maybe they can fake it to hide an even bigger secret they are both hiding. With their impending wedding on the horizon, will they fool the kingdom into believing they can tolerate each other long enough to say “I do,” or will their infatuations with others get in the way of everything they have worked to achieve?

The novel is told from either Gwen's or Art’s point of view, where readers learn that although the two deeply despise each other, they have been betrothed since they were children. Gwen is told that Art will be coming to Camelot to be by Gwen’s side for the upcoming tournament, after which the two will announce their engagement to the kingdom. Neither are happy with this decision and initially decide to do all they can to put a stop to it. This all changes when Gwen catches Art kissing a boy after one of the King’s parties celebrating a knight's win. Determined to dig up dirt (literally) to hold over Gwen so she will not reveal his secret, Art searches for the diary he remembers her burying when they were children. This reveals that Gwen has secrets of her own, namely the crush she has had for years on the only lady knight in the kingdom—Bridget. Armed with this knowledge, he confronts her, and together, they decide to keep each other’s secrets and attempt to get along, if only to throw off suspicions until they can find a better alternative.

As Gwen and Art navigate their romantic relationships, her with the lady knight Bridget and him with Gwen’s brother Gabriel, they learn to understand each other, and a friendship develops that both find they cannot live without. Croucher has developed a novel that is impossible to put down, with lore that any fan of medieval stories will find entertaining, even if they are slightly historically inaccurate. This is the perfect fun and quick romp to pick up for this Pride Month, and I would highly recommend it!

At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities by Heather Webber

Reviewed by Natalia Alvarez

With summer heating up, it is the perfect time to curl up with a good book and spend some time in front of your air conditioner. Heather Webber’s recent novel, At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities, promises to meet all the expectations of a fun summer read with a slight twist: Ghosts! Or at least the threat of them. Published in August 2023 by Forge Books, At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities introduces readers to a beachside romance, where both parties are concerned they are being haunted by the spirits of their loved ones. This is a great read for anyone who loves beaches, coffee shops, self-discovery and spooky stories.

The novel opens with our narrator, Ava, receiving a mysterious job listing. The position is for a live-in caretaker assisting an elderly man shortly after she has been let go from her last position. She has no idea where this flier came from and convinces herself that her recently deceased ex-boyfriend is trying to send her a message. Ava has lived a relatively sheltered life due to health issues but decides to take a risk for once and drives to the remote beach town in Driftwood, Indiana – where the job posting is from – for an interview. 

Here, she meets Maggie, the owner of the local coffee shop, Magpie, who not only serves great coffee but is also known for matching people with the perfect “curiosity” that can be found in the shop. Maggie reveals she drafted the job listing to get help to care for her father but never posted it and has no idea how it came to be in Ava’s possession. Despite this, she decides Ava would be a great help and hires her anyway. Together, the two begin to navigate their own separate issues. Ava, with the death of her ex and her constant health issues that have weighed her down her whole life, and Maggie, with the disappearance of her mother, which she has never been able to move past. 

This book has everything you could possibly want and more—found family, self-discovery, discussion on mental health issues and, of course, romance. Ava and Maggie learn to let go of their pasts and move forward into the incredible future waiting for them. Heather Webber has written a truly heartwarming novel that is perfect for any season. Readers will fall in love with the small coastal town of Driftwood, as well as all the characters who live there. Pick up At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities today!



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