Book Review: Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

In this episode, I discuss a very popular cozy fantasy book, Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree. If you’d prefer to listen to this review, you can check out the full episode on The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or listen below. (This is a spoiler-free post.)

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Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Published: November 2022
Genre: Cozy Fantasy
Format: Paperback
My Rating: Read It
My GR Rating: 3.5/5 ⭐

Book Synopsis:

Our main protagonist is Viv, a female orc warrior that has spent her life fighting as a mercenary. She’s fought in a lot of wars, and now she’s finding herself burnt out on this lifestyle and wants a change. 

With a small sum of money that she’s saved and a magical stone she acquired in her last job, Viv has decided to leave her violent life behind her and create a simpler life. So she travels to a city called Thune with a dream of opening her own coffee shop. Along the way, she meets a misfit of characters (elves, gnomes, a succubus, humans, and a dire cat) and quickly forms friendships that help her achieve her dream.

However, in this fantasy land, most creatures do not know what coffee is, so Viv introduces this new beverage, along with a few delicious sweet pastries, to the locals and gains their patronage through clever marketing tactics, which she executes with the help of her new employees and friends. 

However, it’s not all roses and butterflies, Viv clashes with the local underbelly of the city (aka the mob), who demands a monthly fee. If she doesn’t pay it, they threaten her business and livelihood. 

Also, when Viv left her old life and group of friends, she didn’t leave on the best of terms, and now she feels guilty about it. So that guilt follows her into the present. Then, Viv is visited by her former “co-workers” and old frenemies once her coffee shop is open, and we experience some tension from unresolved conflicts that she must address. 

In order to keep her business alive, Viv will need new partnerships and a different kind of approach. 

Basically, we’re going along the journey with Viv of starting a business and experiencing all the highs and lows that come with this venture. 

So while this book is definitely high fantasy, I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely low stakes, more like low-to-medium stakes. 

Overall Opinion:

When I first heard of this genre, it was perfect timing and really piqued my interest because I was just coming off of a pretty intense, epic fantasy series and really needed a palate cleanser. I still wanted to read a fantasy story but was feeling fatigued and wanted a story without a lot of stress.

I saw all the hype about Legends and Lattes on BookTube and knew I had to pick it up right away. This was my first cozy fantasy book, and it didn’t disappoint in the cozy area. It was a delightful, charming, and easy read that only took me a few days to get through the entire book. It’s whimsical, cozy, and gave me the warm fuzzy feelings. However, I do feel it’s a bit overhyped for what it is. 

Book Details: 

  • Length – It was a really quick read for me, 254 pages. I read it in three days, but someone could easily read this in one day if they really wanted to or were a quick reader. It was also a very easy read with short chapters. 
  • Writing Style – It’s told in the third person, past tense, which is Viv’s POV. Typical prose, nothing complicated or unique – no elaborate or lush prose.
  • Cover Art – Cute and whimsical

What I Didn’t Like About It:

  • It had a slow start, which was a bit boring for me. I didn’t feel like I needed to know every single detail of the building renovations and creating the coffee shop. I didn’t need to read the extensive details on installing certain pieces of equipment. I found myself skimming over the more technical parts of the book. I know it’s a slice-of-life story, but some of those portions of the book were a bit too drawn out for me, and it felt tedious and boring at times. I wanted a bit more conflict or action. There were some chapters that I was just ready for to be over and move on with the story. 
  • I think my biggest complaint is the lack of fantasy elements in the coffee shop. We are taken to a fantastical world where there is so much potential for creativity, but I felt it really fell short of what it could’ve been. Instead of creating new fantastical drinks and food with magical ingredients, we get modern-day coffee drinks and food. This story basically places our contemporary Starbucks and atmosphere in a fantasy setting. There could’ve been way more imagination in creating the setting and the characters. 
  • Along with the last point, I wanted more descriptive words when describing the drinks and food. We got a little taste of it (pun intended), but I wanted more. I wanted Mr. Baldree to go bigger, to be excessive. I wanted a huge feast, and instead, I only got an appetizer that left me salivating for more. 
  • The characters were not created with much depth. They were pretty one-dimensional, and I wanted more character development, not just from the main characters but also the side characters; I wanted to live in their heads, and I didn’t experience that outside of Viv, which I know this is her story, but I wanted to care a little more than I did. I wanted to be more invested in the characters and learn more about them. I did care about them, but I wasn’t thinking about them when I wasn’t reading the book. If this is going to be a story that’s light on the plot, then I want it to be heavy on character development, and I don’t feel like I experienced that in this book. 
  • Also, a complaint about the characters is that they act like us in the real world. I expected more magic or fantasy elements. It’s supposed to be high fantasy, but I didn’t really feel like I was in a fantasy world. The only fantastical part of this world is that we are introduced to fantasy creatures, but we don’t see any fantasy elements about them or see any magic. 
  • There is a lesbian relationship, which I did not know about going into this book. Would it have changed my mind in reading this book? No, but I did wonder if it was needed or fit into the story. Not that it was a gay relationship, but any romantic relationship. I felt like it wasn’t really needed because this was a story about Viv starting over in this new town and creating her coffee shop. Maybe in a sequel, we could see a romance start, but I didn’t feel like it belonged here.
    • Being a straight woman, I couldn’t relate to this relationship. However, I will say it’s a really cute, budding romance between the two creatures. It’s pretty subtle and doesn’t happen until we’re toward the end of the book. It’s very G-rated, no spice at all, something that an adult could give a teenager to read and not feel bad about it. 
    • However, my biggest complaint was that it felt extremely stereotypical. Viv is a female orc warrior that is brutish, strong and has more tomboy characteristics. So of course, she would be a lesbian. It was unoriginal, read like cliche writing, and was almost like a caricature of your stereotypical lesbians. No creativity there.
  • Being a consumer of stories for most of my life, I know how stories are written, and it was pretty predictable. I didn’t mind it, but there weren’t any surprise elements for me. I would’ve liked it better if it had more to explore, like Viv’s past and relationships or Tandri’s past. 

What I Liked About It:

  • The plot is very creative. As I mentioned, it could’ve been executed better, but it’s still a fun, interesting premise. 
  • All the characters are very likable and wholesome. My favorite was the little rat-baker, Thimble.
    • Viv was my second favorite character. We learn more about her, such as she negotiates really well, she knows how to read people well, she knows how to get what she wants, but in a nice way, she’s very resourceful, she’s not afraid to go after what she wants, and she’s very committed to her dream. You just have to applaud her determination to open her coffee shop. I found myself rooting for her throughout the whole story. I did care what happened to her and wanted her to succeed but wasn’t overly invested. 
    • Tandri is also a fun character; she’s a witty, sassy, and smart succubus that can definitely hold her own. She’s confident without being arrogant. There are other charming characters as well.  
  • There is a found family element. Many of the side characters become Viv’s friends or employees, and they create this cute, sweet found family. 
  • There is quite a bit of humor, and I did find myself chuckling or giggling to myself throughout the story, which was a pleasant surprise. 
  • I enjoyed the characters learning about coffee and the baked goods and tasting everything for the first time. I enjoyed the descriptions of the aromas and tastes of the food. (I used to work at coffee shops, so I’m very familiar with this type of environment, and the descriptions were pretty spot on.)
  • I also enjoyed seeing the menu evolve throughout the story. We even see the menu expand as they try out new drinks and baked goods. One of the characters is very artistic, and she creates a menu board with very descriptive explanations of each item. 
  • I did enjoy seeing what it was like for Viv to start her own business and open a coffee shop. You see a lot of the trials and tribulations of starting your own venture and that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be at times. 
  • I really enjoyed some of the relatable, universal themes weaved throughout the story: the importance of friendships, learning to trust yourself and others, how to have bravery and courage to start over on your own and take risks, never giving up and persevering even through difficult times, growing out of your comfort zone, following your true calling, and it’s never too late to chase your dreams.
    • As we go through this story, we do see what it takes to completely change your life and take the road less traveled. We see Viv give up a certain way of life, do a complete 180 and start a new way of life after being a warrior for so long. We see her investing in her future and planting roots in this new city, and settling down. It is very inspiring and uplifting.
    • Viv has this sword called Blackblood, and she decides to mount it on the wall. It’s very symbolic of Viv hanging up her former life and her old ways to make way for this new life that she is creating. But even though she has hung up her sword, we do see her struggle with leaving her past behind her. There are times she wants to grab her sword when she’s faced with some of the seedy underground mobsters that pose a threat to her business. Her instincts are to grab the sword, it’s what she’s used to doing, but she holds herself back from reverting to her old ways and trying to make different decisions. Again, she’s committed to this new lifestyle. So we do see growth in her character as the story progresses. 
  • The first day that I sat down with this book, I had a cup of hot tea that was strawberry cheesecake flavored, which fit the plot of the book perfectly. So this is definitely a read where you can grab your blanket and favorite beverage and snack and enjoy a leisure afternoon or evening.

Why You Should or Shouldn’t Read It:

If you enjoy slice-of-life, cozy books, or if you are like me, a beginner in the cozy fantasy genre, and want to inquire about all the fuss, this is a good first book to start with – high fantasy with medium to low stakes. Again, the characters are likable, the story is interesting, and it’s an easy, quick read. 

Also, if you’re in a reading slump, you may find this book will get you out of it. 

However, if you are not a fan of slice-of-life stories with characters doing mundane tasks or slower-paced books, then this read may not be for you. If you like big world-building and lots of action, again, this may not be the book for you.

Final Thoughts:

While I did find its faults, it was an enjoyable read for me. It was a great introduction to the cozy fantasy world, and I’m definitely interested in reading more of this genre and just cozy books in general. I really have my eye on cozy mystery books for my next venture. 

There is a sequel coming out later this year called Bookshops and Bonedust. Will I read the sequel? Most likely, yes. I already have it in my cozy book wishlist. Would I go back and re-read Legends and Lattes? Yes. Definitely recommend!

If you’re interested in this book, you can purchase it here.

*Please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and a member of other affiliate programs. I may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made through links in this article.

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