Review | Legends & Lattes – Travis Baldree

About the Book

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. 

318 pages
Published on February 22, 2022
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Recently, I needed something… different. Something a bit lighter. Something that gave me hope in humanity. My kids were sick, and then sick again. I’ve got people trapped in a war zone in Ukraine. My mother has cancer. So yeah, I needed something lighter. Something a bit different. A warm hug, as opposed to my usual. 

I was settling in for some “me” time one night (“Me time” involves either a true crime podcasts or a book). I wasn’t in the mood to hear about murders, so I opened up my audible app, and started scrolling through the hundreds of books I have in an attempt to find something that was more comfort, less brutality. I happened upon this book, which I’d apparently picked up at some point and promptly forgot about (sorry). I thought, “Yeah, this feels right…” and downloaded it. 

Legends and Lattes isn’t a long book, but you’ll kind of wish it was. You won’t want it to end. It’s not huge, pulse-pounding, or incredibly intense. Here, you have a gentle little thing. The audiobook is about six hours long, give or take a bit, and it’s narrated by the author, who happens to be a well-known voice actor. It was the easiest thing in the world to turn this on and listen while I did my art stuff and unplugged from the day. So, if you’re an audiobook fan, this one is worth adding to your collection. 

This book is a bit different, in that it’s low stakes—“cozy fantasy”—which the author says up front. Here, we follow the story of Viv, who has spent her life adventuring. Viv, however, is sick of all the get-up-and-go, the worrying, the life so she retires and decides to follow her dream and open a coffee shop. And basically, that’s the story. From top to bottom: a day in the life of a small business owner.

There it is, only it’s so much more than that too. 

Viv is a fantastic character to follow. Her voice is unique, as is her perspective of the world, and her dogged determination is really something to behold. Here, you’ll follow her story as she opens up a coffee shop, and all the ups and downs that entails. Soon, Viv finds herself converting an abandoned livery into a café, along with friends she meets along the way. The banter was fantastic and kept the book light and seriously engaging. 

This lifestyle change, however, is a pretty big deal. Dare we say, a reinvention. Going from an adventuring life to this new stable, business-owner life is quite a swing, and Viv has a few growing pains that Baldree handles with a delicate touch. While Viv might not completely believe in herself, she believes in her idea, and for a while, it’s that belief in that specific idea that really keeps her going and pushes her ever forward. However, it’s not hard to see that there’s something about Viv that is just special, and I say that both in reference to how she’s written, and also because she’s a character who really stood out to me. 

It’s Viv’s personality, the fact that she seems to shine no matter where she is or what she’s doing, that attracts people to her. Soon, she’s got friends, and there’s a whole crew of secondary characters who flow in and out of the book. She gathers around herself a little ocean of people, and starts developing a support system, and dare I say it, a found family of sorts. 

Maybe it was the normalcy that I loved most about this book, as it’s not something I see a lot in fantasy. In Legends and Lattes, fantasy creatures are everywhere, from orcs to a succubus, you’ll recognize each of these trope-laden creations in this book but what makes them special is how mundane they are written (and thus, Baldree subverts the tropes). Yes, they are fantasy characters and magic is a thing… but Viv is an orc opening a coffee shop which she plans to run in her retirement. One of her friends is a succubus who feels bogged down by her history. I just can’t remember the last time I read a book where these extraordinary characters were given such ordinary concerns and reader, you have absolutely no idea how much I loved that aspect of this book.  

It’s this mundanity, this fundamentally grounded spin on a secondary fantasy world that really makes this book glow, because I related to every part of it. Someone I know could fit each character role in this book. They are so extraordinary ordinary, which allowed me to connect with the story in a way that I usually don’t. Yes, there are some wrinkles in the book as things unfold, and yes, there are some (low-stakes) complications to navigate, but it never steps away from being what it is at heart: cozy. That coziness is just magnified by how relatable the characters are. No matter how fantasy this fantasy is, at the core of it, this might be the most “human” book I’ve read in a very, very long time. 

Reader, there was kindness in this story, and my soul really needed that. 

So, as you can see, I loved Legends and Lattes and I have literally nothing bad to say about it. It’s exactly what I needed, and exactly what I wanted. This is a warm hug on a cold day. Written with care and attention, Baldree’s delicate touch and vibrant characters make this story shine. More, I think this is what the world needs right now. 

Books have their own kind of magic.

Legends and Lattes was positively enchanting.