ARC Review: Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

High Fantasy with a double-shot of self-reinvention

Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.

However, her dreams of a fresh start pulling shots instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners and a different kind of resolve.

A hot cup of fantasy slice-of-life with a dollop of romantic froth. 

When I first saw the author talking about this book on social media and noticed that very intriguing cover, I knew I had to give it a try. I hadn’t even realized that the author is a popular audiobook narrator but I’ll be sure to checkout some of their audio works too. And this book… what can I even say about how lovely it turned out to be.

I’m a huge huge fanfic fan. I’m mostly dedicated to one fandom but I love reading fluffy fanfics and AUs and a coffee shop AU has always been one of my favorite fanfic tags. So, when the author mentioned that this is a coffee shop AU, how could I resist. And it’s every bit and more enjoyable than any great fic. The world building is not extensive and we get just enough information that we feel comfortable in the setting and that is perfect because we don’t need to know anything more. The writing is easy to follow, very accessible, and with a very lighthearted and optimistic feel that you will feel happy while you read along. It’s also a slice of life story, so the pacing is not necessarily slow but languid, because no one is in a hurry and there are no high stakes.

And the food … god. My mom is very much into diet culture and healthy foods, so I’m a bit restricted in what I’m allowed to eat at home. So I can definitely say, the mouthwatering exquisite descriptions of coffee and cinnamon rolls and chocolate croissants made me wanna weep because I wanted to taste it all. The way the author describes the main character’s first experience with coffee is extremely evocative and the line “it was like drinking the feeling of being peaceful” felt like it was ripped out of my heart. This book would be one of my all time favorites just for that one amazing sentence. But the book is so much more because it is also about finding your tribe, the kind of people whom you can be yourself with, always being supportive and having each other’s backs. It’s a heartwarming tale of friendship and found family and one of the loveliest I’ve read in recent times.

Viv is an orc who is tired of her bounty hunting past and when she encounters an enticing beverage called coffee in a cafe during one of her endeavors, a dream of opening a coffee shop flickers in her mind. She is lovely, smart and very optimistic about her new way in life and is very sure about never wanting to go the way of her past anymore. Her love for coffee is too endearing and the way she respects and welcomes everyone to her shop is awesome.

Tandri is a succubus who has always been misunderstood and maybe even mistreated because of her heritage, and she just wants to find a place where she can be normal and belong. When she joins as as assistant to Viv at the coffee shop, it seems like the perfect association. Viv has made many plans as to how to build the coffee shop but it’s Tandri who helps her realize what more needs to be done to attract customers. Their association grows slowly into friendship and more, into something where they depend on each other for emotional support and deep companionship. The relationship unfolds subtly but beautifully and it’s a joy to read about.

Cal is one of the first people Viv meets in the new city and hires to help her build the shop. He is diligent in his work and embarrassed about getting free coffees once the shop is open but he is one of the main reasons the shop exists and a great but calm and reserved friend. Thimble on the other hand is like the baker sent from heavens whose confections are so enticing that they’ll compel anyone passing through to come in for a taste and become a regular customer. He may have said not more than 15 words in the whole book but this story wouldn’t be the same without his presence and his lovely food.

In their endeavors, they are also helped in small and big ways by many other people of the town. The old neighbor Laney who wants to trade her inedible recipes with Thimble but will eat something from the cafe everyday; Pendry who is from a family of masons but wants to be a bard in the coffee shop; Durias the gnome who enjoys playing chess by himself; Hem, a student who doesn’t like hot coffee but loves working on his research in the cafe; and the strange mafia head of the town who falls in love with the cinnamon rolls – all of them feel the magic of the coffee shop, support Viv and find their own kind of home at the Legends and Lattes cafe.

To conclude, this was the most comforting book I’ve read in a long time with beautiful characters, lots of soul soothing food which I wished I could have or drink coffee right at the moment, and a tale of heartwarming found family and friendship which made my heart feel full of hope. Maybe we’ll get more such lovely books in the future.

PS: Thank you to the author for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

13 thoughts on “ARC Review: Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

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  1. SLICE OF LIFE STORY!? I just really love this for some reason and I don’t know why??? I just nabbed an ebook copy and will have to give this a try — probably sooner rather than later as I need a break between high fantasy reads. Great review, Sahi!


    1. It’s definitely the perfect one if you want a break from intense fantasy books.. Slice of life, sweet and optimistic.. just don’t read it when you are hungry 😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh I can’t wait to see what you think of it… the coffee and other bakery stuff descriptions are just unforgettable 😍😍😍


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