Viv knows how life as a mercenary always ends and it’s never with a peaceful retirement. So when the orc finds a chance to make a clean break and set aside her sword in the city of Thune she takes it even though it means turning her back on everyone and everything she’s ever known.
With battle-sharpened wits and an espresso machine, Viv is ready to open Thune’s first ever coffee shop. And explain to everyone in Thune what, exactly, coffee is.
Building a shop takes time and building a clinetele can take even longer. As Viv meets neighbors, hires employees, and possibly even makes friends she’ll realize that starting on a new path doesn’t always mean walking alone in Legends & Lattes: A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes (2022) by Travis Baldree.
Legends & Lattes can be read as a standalone but fans who want more can also check out Bookshops & Bone Dust–a prequel novel about Viv’s early career as a mercenary. with most characters belonging to non-human species, there is a lot of variety among the characters–many of whom also fall across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. When not writing books Baldree is an audiobook narrator and brings appropriately gentle tones to the audio production of this novel.
I’ve been describing Legends & Lattes as a literal coffee shop AU and, as the subtitle suggests, the related low stakes. While there is action and suspense while Viv deals with obstacles to opening (and keeping) her shop, Viv’s story is ultimately a quiet one about building community and meeting people where they are. Themes of friendship and a very light romance between Viv and her employee-turned-business-partner Tandri inform the bulk of this story making it a gentle story perfect for fantasy readers who find themselves wondering what NPCs (nonplayer characters) might be getting up to while larger plots play out.
Legends & Lattes is a cozy diversion and a great introduction to fantasy for readers more comfortable with realistic fiction.
Possible Pairings: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller, The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by CM Waggoner
*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*