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Book Review: Can't Spell Treason Without Tea

James Thomson
  • We’ve all dreamed of running away from our frustrating jobs, but for Reyna and Kianthe, such thinking is downright treasonous.

Rebecca Thorne would be the first to admit this book was initially inspired by Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes (check out Ola Aleksandra Hills’ review here) . It’s a (mostly) cozy romance in a fantasy setting about two women who open up a shop, grow to be part of the local community, and have pasts that eventually catch up to them. On the surface, that sounds like the same story, but it really isn’t; think of it more as a familiar framework to hang something new on.


Reyna is great at her job as a royal guard, but does not particularly enjoy dispatching the increasingly frequent assassins who threaten the throne. It is not, however, a role you can easily leave with your head still attached, as the Queen frequently demonstrates.


Kianthe is the Arcandor; the most powerful mage in all the land. She’s a magical troubleshooter, called in to deal with big (and frequently fiery) problems. But there’s a lot of stifling politics around the role, and many layers of ineffectual men trying to tell her what to do.


The two have also been secretly dating for years, and have a shared dream of running far away together to open a tea shop that sells books. Or, perhaps, a bookshop that serves tea. An incident at the palace makes their dreams suddenly a lot more real, and they end up incognito as small business owners in a forgotten corner of the world. There is just the small matter of Reyna committing treason against the Queendom, and Kianthe hiding from the Magicary, but I’m sure that won’t come back to bite them later (it will).


It’s worth keeping in mind that this is not quite as cozy or small scale as Legends & Lattes is. There is an underlying dragon-shaped mystery about their new town, which leads them into more adventure, and indeed more mortal peril, than you might anticipate. The two of them don’t always make the best decisions, particularly in terms of self-care and self-preservation. But this is an established relationship, and they are both supportive of each other throughout, which is certainly refreshing.


“Tomes & Tea” is planned as a four book series, and books two and three are already written. So, it will not be too long until we find out what is next for our couple, and I personally can’t wait. In fact, since the first two books were originally self-published before being picked up by Tor, I don’t actually have to wait; those two are currently available in ebook form. The physical books look very nice however, and I suspect I will pick those up for my shelves as they are released.


A fun tale, recognisable in some ways, but still very entertaining. Another sapphic shopkeeping success!


Thanks to Tor for the early review copy.

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