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  • Writer's pictureD.S. Ritter

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Updated: May 17



Cover of Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

It took me a long time of watching people rave about Legends & Lattes online before I bought a copy myself, just before Baldree made the jump from self-published to trad. Let me just say, I'm so happy I did. This is just such a fun and comfortable read. A couple of years after I bought the book I got the audiobook and the prequel, Bookshops and Bonedust, which is also pretty great, but doesn't quite live up to the first one.


Synopsis

Viv is an orc who has made her living busting heads and collecting bounties, and she's darn good at it. The book opens as she delivers the finishing blow to a huge monster, then sticks her hands inside and digs a big stone out its head. But, D.S., I hear you saying, I keep hearing this is a cozy book. Brain-rocks covered in goop is not cozy. Just wait, my friends, just wait.


Treasure collected, Viv bids farewell to her long-time adventuring friends and makes her way to a small town that she's read about, and buys herself a broken down livery stable. But, it's not going to stay a livery stable, because Viv has been saving up her gold and she's about to start living a dream she's had; to open up a coffee house. Swords and most sorcery left behind, Viv spends almost the rest of the book gathering up friends and establishing her business. When she hires Tandri, a succubus who is also fighting some racial expectations, she suddenly finds herself trying to navigate a more intimate kind of relationship.


What I Loved

One of the best parts of the book are the descriptions of the coffee and the pastries (food and drink descriptions are, I think, a staple of this subgenre), but I think my favorite thing is watching Viv build Legends & Lattes (the name of her coffee house and the book) from nothing, first by literally constructing it with the help of Cal, a local shipwright, but then by expanding the menu, getting to know her customers, and really making the business something that's hers. It's just so fun watching her go from a nasty old horse barn to this lovely, modern establishment I'd probably want to go write at.


Cozy... but Complicated

While this book is as cozy as a blanket fresh out of the drier on a rainy day, there is still conflict. Viv's old "friend" Fennus takes an interest in the stone she snatched in the beginning of the book, sharing her belief that it's magical and capable of granting a heart's desire. Her old colleague's treachery aside, there's also the Madrigal, a local crime boss demanding protection money Viv just absolutely refuses to pay. And while the Madrigal's lackey, aptly named "Lack" is fairly well-behaved, another, Kellin, makes Tandri deeply uncomfortable and this really pisses Viv off.


BTW this book really loves Jerks Are Worse Than Villains, a trope I didn't know I needed.


Don't Read Hungry

Caution: this book contains mouth-watering descriptions of pain-du-chocolat, cinnamon rolls, lattes... it's going to make you want to get a pastry and a coffee. Also? Tandri's reactions to delicious food are very relatable, even if you are not, in fact, a succubus.


The Heart of a Story Full of Heart

While a lot of this story is about a single woman becoming a successful business owner (like we don't need more stories about that, right?) it's also one of those "the magic was the friends we made along the way"-type stories. Throughout, Viv deals with trying to overturn people's (and let's be real, her own) expectations of her as an orc while building a community. A big issue for her is whether it's magic or something else that's making it all happen and I think we can all kind of relate to the bouts of imposter syndrome she suffers.


In Conclusion

If you enjoy fantasy stories but are a little weary of end-of-the-world scenarios, this cozy read might be the cure for what ails you. It's funny, it's cute, it's heartwarming and almost nobody dies (despite how much you might wish Kellin would). I highly recommend it.


Betchdel Test: Pass

*Some of the links I include are affiliate

 

If you're interested in more cozy fantasy, please check out Falling for Felldown Farm, a sweet, cozy, low-stakes fantasy romance I'm launching over on Kickstarter!

eBook and paperback representations of Falling for Felldown Farm

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