Sunday, June 11, 2023

Legends and Lattes

Travis Baldree
Completed 6/10/2023, Reviewed 6/11/2023
5 stars

I’m realizing that I love sweet stories.  This is one of them.  A female orc gives up a life of dangerous adventure to open a coffee shop and falls in love with her succubus barista.  I think this one was extra special because I worked in a coffeeshop when the IT bubble burst some twenty years ago.  I loved that job.  In this book, you follow the progress of the orc as she expands her coffee shop to include pastries and music.  It may sound dull, but her discovery of new things and burgeoning trust in others is just so spot on and sweet.  I just wish coffee still cost ½ a bit.  This book was nominated for a 2022 Nebula award.  And the cover illustration is awesome.

Viv comes to a small town with her savings from all her plundering and adventures and buys a run-down livery.  She finds a hob (hobgoblin I’m thinking) named Cal building a boat and offers him a job renovating the livery.  Then she hires a succubus barista named Tandri.  Together they build a coffee shop.  The trouble is, no one knows what coffee is.  The only coffee Viv has had was at a gnome’s shop in a town where her last adventure was.  So Tandri helps her advertise.  They name the store Legends and Lattes.  Soon they are joined by a rattkin (a mouse-like person) named Thimble who bakes the most amazing cinnamon rolls.  She attributes her success to a magic stone she recovered on her last adventure.  All goes well until the local organized crime comes around requiring a monthly fee for “protection”.

I loved Viv.  She’s a worldly orc, but a little naïve about business.  Thank goodness for Cal and Tandri.  She is very sweet and sincere.  Viv has a deep desire to never go back to her previous way of life.  However, between the threat of the not having mob protection and other issues that pop up, she’s tempted to resolve her problems with violence.  Tandri convince her not to.

Tandri is just one of the colorful characters who show up to help Viv.  I liked her as I did the others on the crew: Cal, Thimble, Pendry the lute player, and Amity, a giant cat who appears and disappears at will. Everyone is genuine and helpful.  It’s the beginnings of a chosen family.  And it’s about nurturing community.  When tragedy does befall the coffee shop, everyone come to help.  

I give this book five stars out of five.  When tragedy struck, I felt it in my stomach.  When the community rallied to Viv’s side, I got warm all over.  I didn’t want the story to end.  I was grateful that there was a neat short story added to this edition.  It recounts the adventure Viv was on when she discovered the gnomish coffeeshop.  Another book is coming out in November, “Bookshops and Bonedust”, which I’ll have to read.  It takes place in the same universe and I’m hoping Viv and Tandri show up at least for a while.

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