May 01, 2024

Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea

By Rebecca Thorne
Review by
Rebecca Thorne’s Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea is a romantic fantasy for readers itching for soft escapism above all else.
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When royal guard Reyna almost dies in service of wicked Queen Tilaine, she decides that it’s time to hang up her boots and take up an offer from her longtime girlfriend, Kianthe, to run away and open a bookshop. Is it technically treason? Yes, but Reyna is an expert swordsperson and Kianthe is the Arcandor, the most powerful mage in the world. With their talents, they’re sure they can stay beneath the queen’s radar.

Together, the two women flee to Tawney, a tiny mountain town on the border of the Queendom. Despite being plagued with dragon attacks and bandits, it offers the perfect sanctuary for the couple to craft their dream store, which features wooden floors, abundant plant life, a lending library of books and a wide selection of teas. As long as they stick to their pseudonyms and fake backstories, they should be fine. But the town is full of mishaps and mysteries, and the couple can’t help but stick their noses into everything. Did the previous town leaders steal dragon eggs? Who is sending aspiring kid bandits to their store? And most importantly: Can Reyna and Kianthe make this strange new life work?

Rebecca Thorne’s Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea is a fantasy for readers itching for soft escapism above all else. There’s a creative world around Reyna and Kianthe, but it’s primarily a backdrop as Thorne focuses on the townsfolk of Tawney and the gentle emotional drama of her central couple. Despite the illusion of high stakes, problems big and small are quickly fixed or hand-waved away. Though the couple frets about money, repairs and inventory are purchased with funds to spare; larger issues, from the murderous queen to the raiding dragons, remain in the background and are resolved with ease. Even spats between Kianthe and Reyna are swiftly and affectionately settled as they reassure each other that they’ve made the right decision and that their love, like Kianthe’s ever-flame, will never fade. 

Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea is an ambling romantic adventure for those who prefer episodic, sentimental stories. Fans of emotionally-driven tabletop games like Wanderhome and cozy fantasies like Legends & Lattes will find this a soothing addition to their shelves.

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