Book Review: Legends and Lattes

There is a recurring joke in tabletop role-playing game space about the level 20 tavern owner. It’s usually framed as a comical way to keep your players on their toes, especially if they’re strutting around the game world like they own the place. As is the way of these things, the jokes often devolve into debates with words like “verisimilitude” and “social contract” flying about. Can you hear my eyes rolling, reader? All that to say, the image of the retired-adventurer entrepreneur raises an interesting and often-asked question: What happens after the final chapter of your favorite fantasy adventure? Is there life after… “the end?”

I have never in my life read a book that more thoroughly embodied its subject than Legends and Lattes. Seriously, this cozy little book is a warm cup of coffee on a crisp fall morning. It is smooth, comforting, and, to echo the review on the cover, “kind.” 

Let’s get to it. 

The Basics: 

Title: Legends and Lattes
Author: Travis Baldree 
Genre: Cozy fantasy, romance, mystery
Published: Tor, 2022 (originally Cryptid, 2022)

Spoiler-Free Summary: 

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Viv is a greatsword-wielding orc, and she’s tired. She has swung her last sword and slain her final skeleton. She’s roughed it with rough characters for decades, and for all the battles and glory, one memory stands out: the perfect cup of coffee on a quiet afternoon. 

Viv arrives at a bustling city with the clothes on her back, a purse full of coin, and a dream. From there, the action is all about founding and running a coffee shop. Take a moment to revisit that last sentence. The story isn’t about a coffee-shop owner having an adventure. It isn’t (mainly) about a mystery she solves while also running her business. Challenges establishing and growing the café drive the plot forward from first page to last. She has incredible (is it… supernatural?) luck gathering the perfect crew of talented misfits to get the job done. 

How can Viv sell a strange foreign delicacy to her potential customers? How will she react to the city’s organized crime? Can she truly escape her past when old frenemies come calling? Last, but far from least, will Viv recognize love when it stares her in the face? 

Read to find out. 🙂 

Why You Will Love This Book: 

Nothing about this book is ostentatious. Every passage is quiet, beautiful, and charming. I would not dare condescend to this book by calling it a “palate cleanser” – it is far too good for that. I would, however, strongly recommend this title to fantasy fans in look of a change of pace from the typical blood-and-drama-soaked pages that characterize our genre. 

Baldree masterfully builds tension through character development. The idea that Viv might be forced to draw her sword is a thing of dread for the reader. I found myself pulling for any other solution to her problem over a return to her past. 

I cannot recommend this delightful book strongly enough.

Where Can You Learn More? 

Legends and Lattes is his debut novel, but keep an eye on Baldree’s progress at his web site, or, check out a behind-the-scenes look at his self-publishing journey on Medium.

Happy reading, dear reader.

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