Book Review | Legends & Lattes (ARC)

I received a digital advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.

In Legends & Lattes, Viv the orc is tired of being a sword for hire—the violence and pillaging and blood has grown wearisome. So she sets out to make a new life in a new town, where she decides to open up a coffee shop. She’s never run a business before, and this town has never actually heard of coffee, but she’s determined. The question is just whether she can succeed, with new and old foes popping up. She might have to pick up her sword again, or perhaps she has new ways of defending herself, in the connections with the new people she meets.

This is like the coziest D&D campaign ever, with no quest, just coffee.

I really enjoyed this book. Viv is such a fun character, a badass who just wants some peace for once. I was really rooting for her to make a new life, largely because the new life she was making sounds amazing. The other characters are also delightful, especially Thimble and Cal, who I adore. But Tandri, Hemington, Pendry, and even the Madrigal are also great.

Like I alluded to, there’s not much in terms of plot here, at least of the high stakes, dramatic kind. Rather, we get to see Viv build (literally) a new life as she starts constructing the coffee shop, forms a business, acquires employees, and tries to make a go of it. The dangers she faces—from ominous mob boss of the neighborhood to an old frenemy trying to sabotage her success for his own gain—are present, but minor compared to how the rest of the genre usually is.

I also love the setting. It’s very typical fantasy land, with orcs and gnomes and the like, with magical artifacts and universities for magicians. But there is also an espresso machine. Why not? Let’s have fun in our fantasy worlds, isn’t that the whole point? I love it.

And the theme of finding friends and family is so sweet. I loved watching Viv find people to love, and to be loved by. It’s sentimental, sure, but the way these various relationships form over time makes it feel organic and natural, while also giving you a warm fuzzy feeling. This story really reminds me of House in the Cerulean Sea with its dealing with family, and also Under the Whispering Door because of its setting. In other words, I think Travis Baldree and TJ Klune would be friends, if they aren’t already.

In the end, Legends & Lattes is a charming novel with excellent characters, themes, and settings. The magic is soft but cool, and though it’s light on plot, it’s heavy on sweetness. This book feels warm and gentle, and it was a lot of fun to read.

Legends & Lattes (the new, not self-published version) will be published on November 8th, 2022!

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