Legends & Lattes is simply an infuriating book
Very little actually happens in it. And certainly nothing unexpected or completely out of left field. You could pretty much predict the ending 1/3rd of the way through.
But that’s not what’s goddamn frustrating about it. Far from it.
What makes me so angry is I have no idea how Travis Baldree managed to craft a book that’s so damn good! Probably partly due to the experience he’s gained narrating so many awesome audio books.
Now this is certainly not the first review to rave about Legends & Lattes, and it certainly won’t be the last, but if, for some reason, you’re one of the few people who haven’t heard about it or picked it up, I highly suggest you do so.
The plot is simple: Viv, an orc, tired of her mercenary past, decides to retire and open a coffee shop in a small town.
And that’s pretty much it. Sure, there’s some conflict that drives things forward with the local crime element, and a jealous figure from her past, but really all of that is secondary, at best. In fact, I’d wager that if Baldree had omitted those elements entirely, the book would still be an utter joy to read.
Because what really carries Legends & Lattes isn’t a plot or any large scale, epic worldbuilding. No, the book coasts along for a breezy 300 or so pages with such gentle grace that by the end of it you’re left in such a good mood that the only thing you could be riled up about is how fast the book went by.
Every single goddamn character in this book will charm the fucking pants off of you. Viv, the aforementioned orc shopkeep, Cal, her taciturn craftsman, Tandri, the succubus barista… even the rat-man baker is a friggin’ delight! And they’re all nice, kind people just doing their best to build and run a business. And I could read 300 more pages of it!
But – at the same time – I also don’t want to.
This book gives us something different than any other fantasy in a hundred different ways – simple plotting, calm pacing, no elaborate world-building, and low, gentle stakes – but the one other mold-breaking aspect I was quite impressed by is that Lattes so immensely satisfying and complete on its own that it doesn’t leave you desperate for the next thing. I’m quite happy with the experience Baldree has given me, and to ask for more would just feel greedy.
In a time of high-stress and world-shattering stakes, Legends & Lattes is a book that thinks maybe we should all sit down, take a deep breath, and just have a sip of coffee.
6/5 (Yeah. It really is that good.)