Professional audiobook narrator and game developer Travis Baldree initially self-published his "high fantasy and low stakes" first novel, Legends & Lattes, which became a social-media sensation. It stars an unlikely coffee shop owner as she vies for business, builds a supportive social circle and quests for the perfect hot drink.
Orc barbarian and career adventurer Viv is ready to hang up her broadsword and live out her dreams of opening a café serving the exotic gnomish beverage coffee. Her research leads her to the city of Thune and an abandoned livery building that will need considerable work to pass as a café. Viv faces the challenge, wanting "something she built up, rather than cut down," and launches the city's first coffee shop. Helping her out are carpenter Calamity the hob, café assistant Tandri the succubus and baking genius Thimble the rattkin. Little by little, the cafe begins to take off. The menu expands as Viv begins to form a customer base, but challenges arise when a local crime boss sends thugs to extort protection money, leaving Viv struggling to keep to her new nonviolent way of life. To make matters worse, Viv has a deep secret about the café's success, and someone from her old life has figured it out. She'll need to use all her wits and newfound connections to keep from losing everything she's built, including her growing relationship with Tandri.
Baldree's combination of humor, fantasy elements and gentle plot lends itself to a comforting story. Fans of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, tabletop fantasy RPGs and unlikely heroes should find much to love in this charming outing. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads