Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: cozy fantasy, fantasy
Series: Tomes and Tea #2
Published by Rebecca Thorne on February 23, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
While searching for stolen dragon eggs, newly engaged couple Kianthe and Reyna find themselves smack-dab in the middle of a swashbuckling love story.
On one side is Serina, a failed farmer turned river pirate. Her booty? Wheat, grains, and the occasional jar of imported tea leaves. It's quite the embarrassment to Diarn Arlon, the powerful lord of the Nacean River, and he'll conscript anyone to bring her to justice. Especially Kianthe, the elemental mage who just crashed his party, and her somewhat-scary fiancée.
Begrudgingly, the couple joins forces with Bobbie, one of Arlon's constables--who happens to be Serina's childhood friend. Bobbie is determined to capture the pirate before anyone else, but it would be a lot easier if Serina didn't absolutely loathe her now.
As Kianthe and Reyna watch this relation-shipwreck from afar, it quickly becomes apparent that these disaster lesbians need all the help they can get. Luckily, matchmaking is Reyna's favorite past time. The dragon eggs may have to wait.
Just as with the first book in the Tomes & Tea series, Can’t Spell Treason without Tea, where I picked it up just because I discovered it existed while looking for information and readalikes for the lovely, wonderfully awesome Legends & Lattes, learned it was in the same cozy fantasy vein and was looking for more of THAT, please and with bells on, I picked up A Pirate’s Life for Tea because I was looking for more books with the same cozy fantasy vibe as Bookshops & Bonedust, the second book in the Legends series, and learned that the second Tomes & Tea book already existed.
Bookshops & Bonedust won’t be out until November, but A Pirate’s Life for Tea is out now and has been since June and I can’t believe I didn’t spot it when it first came out but I’m so damn glad it’s here now. Because it’s exactly what I was looking for and it’s even better than Can’t Spell Treason without Tea.
In many ways, A Pirate’s Life for Tea is the opposite of Treason. Treason was all about Reyna and Kianthe settling down together and figuring out how to make a life AND run a business together in the same place after years of clandestine meetings in out of the way places to keep Reyna’s psychopathic queen and Kianthe’s meddling bureaucrats from learning about their relationship and breaking it up – one way or another – before they decided what to be to each other.
At the point in their story where we get to catch up with them in A Pirate’s Life for Tea, they’ve been living in the quiet little border town of Tawney for over a year and happily running their combined bookshop and teahouse together. Life is good, but life is also a bit less adrenaline-inducing than former Queensguard Reyna is used to.
Which is when the excitement from the previous story rears its ugly head (literally as it turns out) and sends them to the domain of Diarn (read as Lord) Arlon in search of a shipment of stolen dragon eggs that seems to have passed through his lands – if not his actual hands – early in his rule.
The dragons want their eggs back and expect Kianthe and Reyna to find them – or their peaceful little town gets set on fire. Again. And Again.
But when Kianthe and Reyna get to Arlon, they find themselves caught up in the little pirate problem he seems to be having. They negotiate a trade, Kianthe and Reyna’s help with the pirate problem in return for Arlon’s shipping and taxing records from the time period they need to investigate.
And that’s where the fun comes in. Because Arlon is clearly not on the up and up. After all, it is only ONE pirate. Just one. That he can’t seem to catch even though it appears that half the population of his domain are on his payroll as constables. And because he’s just slippery and slimy in the way that all politicians are – if not a bit more.
However, Kianthe and Reyna involve themselves in the pirate problem mostly because Kianthe can’t resist meddling, either in the much bigger problem that the pirate represents – or in the romantic tangle that she senses between the constable assigned to bring in the pirate and the pirate she’s assigned to bring in.
Kianthe could be wrong – but not about this. She’s more than a bit wrong about how much even Reyna likes her truly execrable puns – but she’s not wrong about what’s not going on between the constable and the pirate. If only she can get them to see it for themselves.
Escape Rating A-: A Pirate’s Life for Tea was even more cozy fantasy fun than Can’t Spell Treason without Tea with a bit less of the villain fail that plagued Treason. I fell straight into this heady brew of fantasy and froth and didn’t fall out until I closed the book with a grateful sigh for another lovely visit with Kianthe and Reyna.
Made even that much more charming because we don’t often get to see what happens in a romance after the Happy Ever After, and this definitely does that while showing that there is still plenty of heat and romance after it seems like at least most of the dust has settled.
The thing about A Pirate’s Life for Tea and the whole Tomes & Tea series so far is that it’s a bit closer to its epic fantasy roots while still rocking that cozy fantasy vibe that everyone loved in Legends & Lattes.
So along with the surprisingly cozy pirate life and the strongly hinted at steamy pirate-themed romantic fantasies there’s also an epic political fantasy story being told about kingdom-equivalents becoming oppressive and king-wannabes turning tyrant and dirty deeds done dirt cheap being investigated by righteous outside forces in the forms of Mage of Ages Kianthe and her sword-wielding fiancee Reyna.
It’s just that in this cozy fantasy, evildoers don’t end up with their heads on pikes but do get their comeuppances. Results seldom result in death but rather in justice, and it makes for a glorious and dare I say comforting read that still has all the fantasy thrills that fantasy readers crave.
(If you’re wondering how this missed being a full A grade, in spite of how much I loved it while I was reading it, Diarn Alorn fell flat as a villain. He didn’t go full-on bwahaha the way the Queen did in Treason, but he’s just lacking in motive and pretty much everything else. Possibly he’s overcompensating for something (an idea which fits in with many of Reyna’s puns and the pirate romantic fantasy themes) but we don’t get to know what.)
So if you’ve heard about the new cozy fantasy thing, if you’re on tenterhooks waiting for Bookshops & Bonedust, or if you just fell hard for Kianthe and Reyna and their world in Can’t Spell Treason without Tea, A Pirate’s Life for Tea is a joy and a delight, that holds the promise of more in its epilog and I’m so there for it. Soon would be lovely.
And if the title of this one is driving you bananas, as it did me, because it sounds familiar but not quite, “A Pirate’s Life for Me” has been the theme song of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme park ride at Disney since 1967, and has been part of the soundtrack of all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Savvy?