The Wattle Seed Inn

book review

The Wattle Seed Inn

written by
Leonie Kelsall
review by
todd kuchel

Following the success of The Farm at Peppertree Crossing, Leonie Kelsall continues to capture hearts with her second rural romance novel, The Wattle Seed Inn, which tells the story of three aching hearts, a ramshackle country pub and a tangled web of secrets.

PR executive, Gabrielle Moreau knew she had an easy life. But when her business partner and ex-fiancé doubts her career passion, she takes ownership of Wurruldi Hotel, a dilapidated pub in a tiny riverside settlement, to prove she can be successful 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.

Having lived most of her life at Wurruldi Hotel, Ilse has seen more changes of ownership than she can recall. 

Clinging to her failing memories, she is 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.

I admit, I don’t read a lot of rural romance, but this one captured my interest right away, because it is so relatable and well written!

For example, there’s a scene early in the book where Gabrielle enters the crowded pub and is drawn to a table of similar-aged locals. 

I could literally smell the beer and parmi from the descriptions and found myself laughing outload to the accurate dialogue. 

It’s all so convincing that I can’t help but think Leonie must have done a fair bit of research in this area over the years. 

And then there’s her description of a surf and turf a few chapters later which, I’m not kidding, actually had my mouth watering. 

It wasn’t until I read this book that I understood the challenge of writing a convincing rural conversation. I didn’t even know I enjoyed rural romance! 

While each of the rural fiction titles by Leonie can be read as a standalone, all feature the same small town, and readers will enjoy the sense of continuity and the opportunity to reconnect with favourite characters throughout the series. 

Accordingly, the books can be read in any order. However, for maximum enjoyment Leonie recommends reading in the following order: The Farm at Peppertree Crossing, The Wattle Seed Inn, The River Gum Cottage (Out Now), The Willow Tree Wharf (2023), The Stringybark Camp (2024).

The Farm at Peppertree Crossing, The Wattle Seed Inn and The River Gum Cottage are now available from The Raven’s Parlour Bookstore, Tanunda.

Todd Kuchell

contributor // The barossa mag
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