PR executive Gabrielle Moreau knows she has an easy life, but when her business partner claims she lacks career passion she takes ownership of a dilapidated pub in a tiny riverside settlement to prove she can be a success without falling back on her privilege.
Eighteen months ago, Settlers Bridge stonemason Hayden Paech had it all: a job he loved, good mates and a close family. All he needed was the right woman to come along and he was ready to settle down. But one poor choice stole that chance and he’ll never risk caring for anyone again.
Living at Wurruldi Hotel for … goodness, so many years, Ilse has seen more changes of ownership than she can recall. Clinging to her failing memories, she’s tired of trying to protect the property her grandparents built. With the arrival of the elegant Gabrielle Moreau, however, it seems that finally an owner may recognise the importance of recapturing the grace and dignity of Ilse’s past.
For Ilse to find peace, Hayden forgiveness and Gabrielle her true passion, three aching hearts must reveal their secrets.
Right, so I feel like we know me well enough to know that when it takes me FOREVER to write a review it’s because I’ve loved the book and it’s like I’m scared to ruin it with my own inadequate words – why am I like this? This has definitely been the case with Léonie Kelsall’s latest novel The Wattle Seed Inn, which I read (and loved) literally months ago now!
Firstly, I really enjoy Kelsall’s writing. There’s something about the authenticity of the characters and place – the setting and community really feel Australin without being cliched. Also the way that tiny bit of romance cheese is so perfectly balanced with more serious and sensitively written issues has me completely in on her characters lives and backing them to succeed.
I thought the relationships were well done in The Wattle Seed Inn. I loved seeing the bonds between the friends and families in the book, as well of course as the building relationships between the two main characters. Gabrielle is new in town when the book starts – and not really planning to stick around – and I enjoyed seeing her make friends in the town. The romance was quite sweet, and I liked that the characters just liked eachother despite themselves and everything grew from there – it felt natural not forced. Like in The Farm at Peppertree Crossing, the wonderful characters aren’t limited to being human, and there is a special four-legged star who threatens to take the scene in this one.
I do quite fancy a renovation story so loved seeing Gabrielle and Hayden rebuild the Inn, and I really liked the way Ilse’s narrative was woven into this part of the book, and how the story of her connection with Hayden unfolded (oooh mysterious!).
I can’t finish my review without mentioning that I also enjoyed the cameo from Roni, the protagonist from Kelsall’s first novel – this is something I always love in companion stories like this that have a shared setting.
In all I just found this one a joy to read. It was exactly the sweet but not too sugary, feel-good, escapist kind of read I was looking for. If you’re after the same I think you’re in good hands with Léonie Kelsall, and I’d absolutely recommend it!
The Wattle Seed Inn by Léonie Kelsall
Out now from Allen & Unwin
Source: Free copy sent to me by Allen and Unwin (thank you!). All views are my own.
Category: Contemporary Australian rural romance fiction
Format: Paperback (416 pages)
Australian RRP: $29.99