Cozy queer fantasy romance about coffee and building community
I came across this book via NetGalley, and although I wasn’t accepted to review it, I liked the premise so much that when it came up as a recommendation when I was searching for my next running book, I decided to download it. It was Mardi Gras in Sydney over the weekend, so this is an ideal book to wind down the festivities with.
“Legends & Lattes” written and narrated by Travis Baldree is a cozy fantasy romance novel about an Orc called Viv who has quit her life as a mercenary and is opening up something the town of Thune has ever seen before: a coffee shop. With enough capital to get things started, Viv buys a suitable premises and starts ordering in supplies and equipment. Although initially the citizens of Thune are unsure about coffee, Viv slowly builds a community of customers and colleagues including Cal the hob, Thimble the ratkin and Tandri the succubus. However, as the coffee shop grows in popularity, so too does interest from the Madrigal, the local protection racket, and people from Viv’s past. Is Viv’s new life strong enough to withstand disaster?
This was an absolute delight to listen to. I went into this book with no expectations whatsoever and I was utterly charmed. Baldree narrated the book himself and he has an incredible talent for narration. All the character’s voices were unique, consistent and expressive and it was so easy to settle in and let the story wash over me. I’m not sure if it is the relentlessness of living through a pandemic, but the uncomplicated dream of opening up a little café and taking steps to implement that dream was so soothing, I couldn’t get enough. I found myself looking for extra opportunities to listen to the book: going for runs, gardening, folding washing; any excuse.
This story is all about building trust, respectful communication and slow burn romance. It is a character-driven story and Baldree has an aptitude for sensitively and kindly navigating relationships. Some of the characters were just adorable as well, and I couldn’t get enough of Thimble and his baking creations. I also really enjoyed the simple pleasure of Viv working out how best to deliver the drinks and snacks her customers wanted, and the joy of their shared satisfaction. While there wasn’t a huge amount of fantasy in the book, the generic medieval fantasy setting was a perfect blank slate for Baldree’s characters to shine against.
A warm and relaxing story ideal for anyone who likes fantasy, romance and happy endings.