Legends & Lattes: A High-Fantasy Coffeeshop AU For Everyone

The Fiction Addiction

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Legends & Lattes, by Travis Baldree, is a sweet and gentle story about what happens after your orc heroine kills all the bad guys and gets all the treasure.  It's the D&D / coffeeshop AU mashup that I didn't know I wanted to read about.

Viv, an orc adventurer, is ready for a quiet retirement, turning her loot into a cute, quiet coffeeshop. This means find and rebuilding a location, hiring staff, and getting the deliveries of coffee and coffeemaker from distant lands. Viv hires a hob carpenter, Cal,  a succubus barista, Tandri, and later a ratkin baker, Thimble,  to help her out. This crew, plus some of Viv's former adventuring party, and some coffeeshop customers, become the heart of the story.

When I was younger, I read a great deal of D&D-ish fantasy novels, and there aren't usually enough ladies in the stories. Usually one (beautiful) lady per adventuring party, and some sexy tavern wenches in town. All the cool characters were men! Everyone who got to forge a sword or decipher an ancient warning was a man! Ugh. This is not the case here.  In Legends & Lattes, a woman builds and a man bakes, and no one has anything to say about that. Some characters do have some thoughts on orc/succubus/gnome/etc. expectations, but the book's theme is much more about using what you're good at, whatever that actually is. 

Legends & Lattes leans into the familiar standards (maybe even cliches?) of fantasy novels to tell a story about starting over and about friendship.  There's a gentle sapphic romance, but it's pretty minor to the plot. Like any good D&D game, friendship is the heart of the story.

Legends & Lattes isn't the kind of the story where spoilers matter much. As you read, you're never wondering IF the coffeeshop will succeed or IF Viv's retirement transition will go well, but HOW it's going to happen. So I'll reveal a little bit of the later plot, and say that the magical Scalvert's Stone in this is just perfect. At first, I really thought this was the Ancient Bracelet of Detect Plot, that magical item given to new players to drive them towards the DM's story, and I was just fine with that because it was leading our Viv towards the coffeeshop plot. But as the story went on, it was an item and a plot device that worked on multiple levels, and I really enjoyed the resolution.

Recommended for any fantasy fan and/or found-family fan.

With a completely different plot, setting, and style, but with a similar warm and comforting genre-fiction vibe, try The Mimicking of Known Successes.

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