Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree
Published by Cryptid Press
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
Release Date : 22nd February 2022
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.
WHAT FLAMES COULD NOT CONSUME, NEVER SHALL BE EXTINGUISHED
Legends & Lattes is a relatable, cozy, and deliciously comforting the slice of life fantasy that feels like the warmest hug.
As a 20-something year old young adult I start my day by drinking a cup of black coffee, straight, no sugar to wake me up and prepare myself for the day ahead. I drink my coffee to feel comfort and as a way to destress before the stress hits me. What I’m getting at with this opener is that Legends & Lattes is the combination of everything I love coffee, snacks, and fantasy.
This self published novel first caught my eye after reading reviews from friends and raving reviews from fellow SFF bloggers. Legends & Lattes is a self published sapphic fantasy romance debut novel by Travis Baldree, a well known audiobook narrator of Will Wight’s Cradle series, that was released on February 22nd 2022.
After two months since its release date Legends & Lattes has over 3k reviews on Goodreads which is incredible. In this case it wasn’t surprising that while I was reading I saw Travis Baldree’s tweet that Legends & Lattes had recently been acquired by TOR books. This is truly a wonderful turn of events for Travis Baldree because now Legends & Lattes can reach a wider audience and what is even more exciting Travis will expand the book into a series.
Before I start my review can we admire the beautiful cover done by Carson Low Miller a.k.a Emberwick (ArtStation | Twitter) that captures the cozy D&D vibes Legends & Lattes emanates.
In cupped hands around the warmth of a mug and the lingering enjoyment of the last taste. It was the echo of her own experience, and a pleasant flush of recognition washed over her.
Legends & Lattes is a story that is centered around a retired adventurer, Viv, an orc barbarian that has adventured for years with her crew. One day she decides that her adventuring days are over after cashing out on one final score. Pocketing a mysterious artifact from the legends Viv heard during her travels, her whole life savings, and a dream to open up her own coffee shop. Viv sets her sight on a town called Thune where no one knows what coffee is. Partnering with the locals she built her cafe and starts serving the cup of joe.
However, starting a business isn’t easy Viv stumbled upon many hurdles and attracted unwanted attention of shady friends and the local gang. Filled with drive and hope to succeed Viv puts her heart, soul, and energy into growing her business.
The tag line on the cover “A novel of high fantasy and low stakes” is an accurate description of the premise of Legends & Lattes. Readers will definitely get what they are promised of a relatable simple premise that is opening up a cafe in a high fantasy world.
What makes Legends & Lattes precious is how endearing the story line is and how violently genuine the motivation of the characters are. Travis Baldree relates to readers on a deeper level through their characters discussing themes of love, friendship, family, solidarity, the importance of community, and how food brings people together.
Though the red string that ties the story together is the main theme that encapsulates Legends & Lattes which is about new beginnings and jumping out of your comfort zone to do something entirely different.
I read this book while I was planning my wedding during that time I’ve only lived in Canada for three months adjusting to life here, this book is the comfort blanket that assured me that everything will be okay. Picking it up was the best decision ever because it comforted me when I was feeling homesick and anxious about the future.
This was the first time something else made me feel a way I wanted to keep feeling. So, here I am, and with some blood still in me.
The book is told mainly from the perspective of Viv. Readers will get to know Viv’s inner thoughts, the moments that solidified her resolve to open up a cafe, her insecurities and beliefs, etc. This sole POV is coloured with multiple interactions with different characters. Where there is a small cast of characters with their own intricate characterization, charm, and skill which they contribute to the growth of the cafe.
The quality of interaction between the characters deserves the highest of praises. The bond they share is believable, genuine, and adorably precious. Being a former mercenary Viv is always wary of the people she surrounds herself with, as a cafe owner Viv has to maintain relationships both with customers and the people she works with.
The consistency of running a cafe is different from the inconsistencies of mercenary contracts. It is a learning curve for Viv to be able to succeed in the hospitality industry and to learn how to trust the people around her. Cal, Tandri, and Thimble are the kindest characters that have extended their hand to Viv. They have taught, not just Viv but also readers, about trust, camaraderie, and kindness.
As adults we often forget this notion because we have experienced hardships and tragedies. Legends & Lattes reminds us of that kindness that can be found from any where. The development of Viv into the strong hearted and happy cafe owner by the end of the book is so touching and heart warming. The growth of the other characters are also as satisfying especially Thimble.
It was like drinking the feeling of being peaceful. Being peaceful in your mind. Well, not if you have too much, then it’s something else.
Baldree’s pacing for the story is consistent and strategically done giving the story a solid gradual unfolding that is satisfying making it an enjoyable experience for me as a reader. Baldree’s writing and accessible prose is addictive with every chapter I read.
What made Legends & Lattes such a serotonin boost is seeing the gradual growth of the cafe. Viv literally built it from the ground up. Baldree shows readers the process from the day Viv buys the land that will be the spot of the cafe, to the building renovations, the equipment acquirement, advertising, and everything in between.
It started with a chalkboard menu of just one item into a complete menu with snacks. The process seeing Thandri adding one more item and naming them is fulfilling. I love seeing the menu grow. Anyone reading Legends & Lattes would want a bite of the cinnamon roll and a sip of the ice latte.
An orc’s life was strength and violence and a sudden, sharp end—but she’d be damned if she’d let hers finish that way. It was time for something new.
Final thoughts, Legends & Lattes is a warm hug in the form of a fantasy novel with amazing characterization, wholesome premise, and heart warming character interaction. There are layers to why this novel is so precious.
Readers can feel how genuine and down to earth this story is being set in a high fantasy world. It is relatable, cozy, and deliciously comforting. I didn’t expect to have slice of life fantasy as my new favorite fantasy sub-genre that I fall in love with this year.
This is a book that I am happy to see thriving from being self published to being acquired and soon to be traditionally published.
I highly recommend Legends & Lattes to anyone that needs a pick me up or a few moments to destress from real life. It is the perfect book to read at a cafe, with your cup of coffee or tea, and maybe a cinnamon roll or two. Relax and enjoy the goodness that is Legends & Lattes!
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Such a lovely review Lia! I’ve been in the mood for more cozy fantasy stories and loved reading your glowing thoughts on this one. Hoping to read it at some point this year <3
Yay! Thank you so much <3 Its really good! Definitely a great book to read when you feel like you need something easy and cozy. Let me know your thoughts once you do I would want to know 🙂
tasya @ the literary huntress
Great review Lia! I’ve been seeing so many glowing reviews for this book, it’s great to hear it’s been picked up by Tor and the author could expand the story! 🙂
Thank you Tasya <3 This book lives up to the hype truly! Highly recommend <3
Kal @ Reader Voracious
I’ve seen this book everywhere and it honestly sounds so wholesome and I wanna read it. Great review, Lia!
Thank you Kal! Definitely buy it and read it ASAP. It’s so cozy and wholesome <3 you'll love Thimble!
Kal @ Reader Voracious
I bought it and cannot wait!!!
This is so awesome that we both posted our reviews for this on the same day… and I’m glad you felt the same… this is such a lovely review for a lovely book and I enjoyed reading your thoughts so much 😍😍😍
Thats what I call being besties lol Thank you so much Sahi!! I enjoyed reading your review as well 😀 We definitely agree that Thimble is the most precious character in the book <3
Thank you Lia !!!! And Thimble is such a sweetheart… I never could believe that we would all love with a character who hardly speaks but never say never I guess 😂😂😂