#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release · romance

New Release Book Review: The Wattle Seed Inn by Léonie Kelsall

Title: The Wattle Seed Inn

Author:  Léonie Kelsall

Published: July 2nd 2021

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 416

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

Three aching hearts, a ramshackle country pub and a tangled web of secrets.

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.


South Australian country girl Léonie Kelsall makes a welcome return with her second rural fiction novel, The Wattle Seed Inn. A story of secrets, renovations, forgiveness, the past, passion and dignity, The Wattle Seed Inn is a must read for passionate followers of contemporary Australian fiction.

The Wattle Seed Inn follows Gabrielle Moreau, a woman who sees her life change when she takes on a new business venture. As the new owner of a ramshackle country pub, Gabrielle knows she has a tough job ahead. The Wattle Seed Inn also incorporates the life story of Hayden Paech, a gentle but broken man, who isn’t willing to take a risk again in the romance department. Will this stonemason find love again? Meanwhile, Ilse is a long-standing resident of the Wurruldi Hotel. Ilse has seen many changes and people over the years, but Ilse has faith in the the new owner Gabrielle, can she finally bring this relic back to life? The Wattle Seed Inn joins these three unforgettable characters together in their shared quest for restoration, harmony, unity, acceptance and dedication.

Following the success of her previous novel, Léonie Kelsall graces her readers yet again with a truly wonderful rural fiction treat. With plenty of aching hearts, tender moments, humour, revelations and appealing characters, The Wattle Seed Inn is a genuinely lovely read that I had the pleasure of indulging in during a recent mini getaway.

Told via three different viewpoints, I appreciated the shared style of narration adopted by Léonie Kelsall. Through this immersive style writing, we are able to grasp the thoughts, feelings, motivations and concerns of the three core characters of this novel. Although it is tricky to balance all three perspectives evenly, I felt like each key protagonist in The Wattle Seed Inn was able to share their story and experiences. The cast and their related interactions felt very real to me. I fully engaged with their histories and each seemed to earn a place in my heart by the close of the book.

The setting base for The Wattle Seed Inn is a fictitious creation, but Kelsall works hard to build a full and realistic picture of the area of Settlers Bridge. What emerges from Kelsall’s writing around her landscape are some truly stunning and quintessential passages surrounding rural this beautiful South Australian setting. I would dearly love to visit this part of the country, especially the Murray River region. Reading The Wattle Seed Inn cemented my desire to one day visit this breathtaking Australian locale.

While The Wattle Seed Inn has a strong a rebuilding focus in terms of places and people, it also incorporates a range of connective themes. From relationships, friendships, to taking a chance, overcoming life setbacks, acceptance, trauma and compassion, Kelsall navigates a number of key issues with an understanding approach. With an additional focus on romance, The Wattle Seed Inn is perfect for those who love to indulge in a dramatic rural romance story. This one offers plenty of happiness, fun and heartbreak. A perfect blend for rural romance fans.

With a wonderful underlining message about letting go, seizing the day and embracing all experiences on offer, The Wattle Seed Inn is encouraging read that I highly recommend.

The Wattle Seed Inn by Léonie Kelsall was published on 2nd July 2021 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Wattle Seed Inn,  Léonie Kelsall, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

The Wattle Seed Inn is book #68 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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