Book Review: Style of Love by A.J. Sherwood

Romance isn’t one of my usual genres and if I do happen to read one, oftentimes, it’s because I went in blind (judged only by the colorful covers; didn’t read the genres/blurb). Well, with a week-long vacation coming up (and no idea if there would be any travel plans with the family), I decided to grab one extra book for my Kindle and decided to try a genre I don’t usually read.

I had picked this one up because it looked like it was ten levels of cute. I couldn’t say no, especially considering the summary was essentially a bunch of fun tags, Ao3 style. It sounded like a nice book, and it really was just that! Cute as hell, fluffy and comfy, and sweet enough to rot your teeth! No rivalry drama, no jealousy (except for a quick misunderstanding), and no major scandals, just two guys discovering their love for one another in ways they’ve never even imagined previously.

Book Description

Title: Style of Love
Author: AJ Sherwood
Edition: Kindle > Ebook
Length: 291 Pages (Kindle)
Genre/s: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance > M M Romance, LGBT, Adult
Rating: 4 Golden Eggs

TW/CW: Homophobic slurs, Toxic Family Members, Sexual Content

Blurb (Goodreads)

Asher’s dream job: Interior design – check.

His dream boyfriend: Park Bo Gum – not check. Sadly.

Straight as a board, childhood bff Zar: check

Zar becoming his boyfriend: che–wait, what?!


Oh look a contemporary romance, GFY, Best friends to lovers, Dumbasses to lovers, not so much slowburn as two idiots standing around on fire, emotional baggage check, HGTV meets BL, family of choice, Asher needs a better family, Zar’s will adopt him, healthy choice making (and some impulsive ones), no angst here only cuddles, best friends giving The Talk, yes that one, Gage hates -coughlovescough- them, tropey tropes a lot, yaoi fangirls as co-workers leads to interesting situations, and sexy photoshoots, best supporting character goes to the dog, small town, Asher and Zar are so obvious there is a bet riding on them, Zar uses handcuffs for not sexy reasons, at least the first time, only one sledgehammer was sacrificed in the making of this book

Trigger warning:

Toxic family members


Asher is living his dream life: he’s got a home that he renovated himself, has his dream job in a company that he’s a partner in with his good friends, the best teddy BEAR of a dog, and the best of best friends who grew up with Asher. They’re so close, Zar is always popping by to drop off coffee and calls Asher every SINGLE morning. It doesn’t get better than this.

Time hasn’t severed their relationship either, merely making it stronger than ever, enough so that if it weren’t for the fact that Zar was as straight as a board, people would’ve though they were dating by now. But, something changes during a photoshoot between Asher and Zar and suddenly everyone’s world is rocked.

This was a really sweet book revolving around the childhood friends to lovers trope, and it’s pretty well done. They’ve been friends for so long and with Zar intertwined in nearly every aspect of Asher’s life (being his daily support, Zar knowing Asher’s only other closer friends, his inner circle, etc.) Asher’s afraid of the massive fallout if this relationship turns sour. Zar, who is still trying to get a grasp of his sexuality, is the one doing the chasing and the only way through would be solid communication; sit and talk this through slowly. With plenty of guidance and advice from family and friends alike, each begin to see a new side to this relationship.

All of the main and supporting characters are lovable and it gave me such a warm feeling to know that so many of Zar and Asher’s close friends and family are not only supportive, but rooting for the two of them to get together (I mean, the town board has a betting pool on them!) Zar’s family is amazingly supporting, a stark contrast to Asher’s who’s bigoted views truly hurts to read. Asher, dear, the garbage can is this way. Just chuck the entire household on the next pickup day…

On the side line, I also was fascinated by Asher’s job as an interior designer. As someone with an abysmal taste in anything revolving colors, I found it intriguing that every now and then, we would briefly turn the story back quickly to Ash doing his job, be it a lunch meeting with clients over colors, having his coworkers discuss which walls to and not to tear down, and him going on seven hour long emergency shopping trips for a single lighting fixture.

All in all, I thought it was a pretty good read that I plowed right through. I enjoyed the friendly chats between Asher and his friends, both in work and their group texts. Their messages are some of my favorite lines in the book. I love how protective Zar is of Asher in nearly every sense as well as how jealous Zar becomes of Asher when he thought he was in a date with another guy, and loved the extremely close-knit town that had a betting pool on the town’s website over Zar and Asher (amongst other bets like when a neighbor’s old car would finally break down). While most of Asher’s family is worthy of a smack-down, Zar’s is right there to pick him up (and dish out a smack of their own if needed).

Gage: Guys, help. I’m having creation ideas above my skill level
Asher: Pfft that’s nothing. I have creation ideas above my motivation level
Cohen: I have them above my free time level
Riggs: I’m suddenly glad I’m not the creative type
Asher: Bragging is unbecoming
Gage: Ash, I will pay you in beer if you come rescue me.
Ash: You tried it anyway, didn’t you?
Gage: To be fair, my life is mostly a collection of poor decisions set to rock music
Ash: OMW

There is a small note that did stick out and it was that their relationship was too golden. It’s a major empathizes that they were meant for each other. Aside from the initial fight where Asher believed Zar was rushing into this too much and too fast, there weren’t a lot of other conflicts between the two. That, in itself is fine, but sometimes the things that they would say to each other, dialogues wise, was not really realistic and felt a bit unnatural, though it didn’t stop me from grinning madly because geez, these two lovable and oblivious dumbasses. I simply had a couple of fleeting thoughts of, “People don’t talk like this, do they?” Other than that though, it really was a good, smooth, and nicely written book about friends to lovers with plenty of memorable lines spoken between friends.

Also, if the moment below isn’t the epitome of adult life, I don’t know what is. They say, you know you’re an adult when nobody can stop you from eating cake for breakfast!

“Oh, I had a delicious omelet this morning.” Like hell he was awake enough to cook. I played out some more line, waiting for him to hang himself. “Oh, really? Do tell.”
“I seasoned the eggs with sugar, oil, chocolate, even threw in some flour for texture. It was amazing. Best omelet ever.” I translated without effort. “So, you had cake for breakfast.”
“Want some?”


Book Review: Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

I think I’ve found my favorite book of the year so far!

Book Description

Title: Legends & Lattes: A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes
Author: Travis Baldree
Edition: EBook
Length: ~318 Pages
Genre/s: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance, LGBT
Rating: 5 Golden Eggs

Disclaimer: An eBook copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. This did not affect my review, and all opinions are mine.

The cover has "A novel of high fantasy and low stakes" on top, followed by the title "Legends & Lattes". The author's name is Travis Baldree to the bottom. The cover art has a succubus to the left, holding a cinnamon roll, and she's smiling up at the Orc behind her. To the right is an Orc smiling at the succubus behind her while holding a mug on one hand and a teacup in the other.

Blurb (Goodreads)

High Fantasy with a double-shot of self-reinvention

Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.

However, her dreams of a fresh start pulling shots instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners and a different kind of resolve.

A hot cup of fantasy slice-of-life with a dollop of romantic froth.



I’d been searching long and hard (minus the hard, but definitely the long) for a similar book.

Ever since I played Coffee Talk by Toge Productions, I’ve been searching and scouring the web for the book version of it, something that focuses on the warmth of a coffee shop. So, when the opportunity was present, I snatched right at it! I still had books to finish but was constantly eager to start on this and when I was done, I almost cried. It was over before I know it, a smooth and solid read that’s not hard to drink in and digest like some of the more poetic fantasy books I’ve gone through in the past. “A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes” indeed.

I wanted something coffee shop related. I wanted there to be some form of budding relationship, either of romance or friendships. I wanted there to be a world where different races could co-exist, DnD style but without the dungeon part (low stakes, ya know?). I wanted to show the hardships behind a small business, especially one that’s being built from ground up. Legends and Lattes brought all of that to the table, and then more, surprising me with small details that were truly appreciated. I’ve never felt so much warmth in a book and Legends and Lattes really stuck with me. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted!

Who she was before, is not who she is now.

Viv is an Orc adventurer who shall swing her sword no more. She’s done with the bruises and cuts. Done with a paycheck per job to another. She’s done with adventures and wants to finally settle down somewhere; start a new life, one where she doesn’t need brute force to answer problems with. She’d been saving for a while now, little bits here and there through years of adventuring and jobs and the result presents itself in the shape of a livery turned coffee shop in a city where nobody knows what coffee is.

When she arrives in Thune, her new home for, hopefully, a long long time to come, she finds herself befriending many people on her way to making the café a success. There’s Tandri, a young succubus, stern and severe at first, who warms up quickly to Viv and becomes a partner to the shop. She helps tend to the registers and patrons, helps with ideas on luring in new customers, helps with the behind the scene duties like the dishes or using her artistic skills in drawing up the menu. There’s Calamity (Cal throughout the book) who was the guy that Viv hired to turn the stable into a working establishment. The hobgoblin was there to help her through the entire construction, the primary man on the job, and there to help with any other needs like expansions or, through the usage of gnomish technology, to install things like an air-circulator.

Built on blood, sweat, tears, and bonds.

One of the key aspects that I love about this book is the realism, the characters, interactions, and the frustrations behind opening up a business. It’s hard being a coffee shop owner and harder to try and attract people to a shop that’s already previously known to be the location of an old and sticky stable. Viv often gets frustrated and while she’s adamant that she will never try to use force and bloody fists (and steel) to solve problems again, there are times when she occasionally considers it, only to push it away. Tandri is always there to help her out and bring the conversation and situation back to earth, and the pair grows along with the shop together. I adored their journey from the “was an old livery” to success; from assistant to partners. Tandri was there to bring Viv back up when things go awry (from the start to the end) and in turn, Viv made sure to be there for Tandri as well.

One of the most important part of a coffee shop related story/plot (and in real life businesses as well) are the patrons and customers. The thing I looked forward to, the most, were how the staff and patrons interacted, especially given that most of said patrons, have never touched lips to this “exotic beverage” of beans and water. There would be plenty of repeating customers through the story, and I loved them all. In such a short time, I already grew quite fond of many of the characters.

Given how much was provided, I adored the worldbuilding

a picture of a sword and shield. There's a mug of latte (with a heart latte art) in the center of the shield.
Sword and Shield (Travis Baldree)

There’s a lot of world building and charm to this book in the short time we get to know the city of Thune. One of the things that I’d been seeking for so long, in a “Coffee Talk-like book”, was the diverse mix of race and species that the game had presented; humans mingling with werewolves, elves, succubi, orcs, merfolk with octopus legs, vampires (and vegan vampires!) and so on, just working and living together. Legends and Lattes presents the same thing with the streets roaming with its own mix of elves, rattkin, gnomes, hobgoblins, orcs, and succubi. And, in each, there are moments where certain characters voice their feelings over being stereotyped and judged on.

And then the technology. There are ways to bring coffee from [our] world to the world of fantasy and DnD with gnomish technology being the way that “coffee machines” and “air-circulator” can exist. There are magic schools in here, one of the repeat patrons being a student from there. Besides the walking and talking races I’d mentioned, there were also giant dire-cats that are essentially the same as our favorite ol’ house cats just…bigger and scarier. There is a local gang that threatens Viv if she does not pay her monthly dues to their boss, the Madrigal, and Viv must either pay or try to find a way to open up the discussion and make a deal with them. And the streets roam with people (practically most of the city since coffee is a gnomish beverage) that have never heard of the hot drink and time and time again, Viv has to try and lure new patrons to at least give her coffee shop and it’s drink a try. The menu literally started with two items, coffee and lattes, both with their own short description, and it grows from there.

So in all this, in 318 pages, we get to experience all sorts of pieces from this world that Travis Baldree has presented to us. It’s vast, it’s colorful, and oh so rich. It’s definitely not the main focus here, but with just passing descriptions of the day-to-day activities that Viv and Tandri experience, it’s already good enough for me to imagine what living in this world would be like.

So cozy and should be enjoyed with a nice warm mug of your own brew of coffee.

It was warm, even through the conflict of the story, and through all the troubles of being an orc and now new business owner. I adored the relationships presented. I got to experience what it feels like to chatter with your favorite patrons every time they stop in. If you enjoy getting to discover a world of diversity, and enjoy the charm of coffee shops, I would say to definitely give Legends and Lattes a try. When the world of adventures and brutal fights grows tiring to the soul, the book offers the best sanction to a weary traveler, to just settle down in a booth corner, and enjoy life with one sip and bite of a cinnamon roll at a time.

5 Shiny Shiny Eggs!