BOOK CLUB: The Blue Gum Camp

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The Blue Gum Camp by Australian author Leonie Kelsall is a contemporary fiction romance novel that has the perfect balance of broken souls, courage, and love. 

Charity Farrugia is a sensible thirty-four-year-old schoolteacher. When her mother passes away from dementia, as the eldest, she raises her two younger sisters, Faith and Hope. Caring for her mother and then sisters has been physically and emotionally demanding. Still, Charity is content to sacrifice her own happiness and freedom for her loved ones to ensure their well-being.

Farmer Lachlan Mackenzie’s life has not always been easy, divorced from his cheating ex-wife, inheriting the family farm, and struggling with a secret that only his brother Hamish knows puts pressure on his daily life. Not only does he want to let his family down he does not want to be deemed a failure. 

Faith and Hope plan to spend a weekend away with their friends Paris and Kaylee at a Bachelors and Spinsters ball in Yurramukka. Charity has no interest in attending but being the protector, she agrees to chaperon the four girls to make sure they are safe. 

When Hamish suggests attending the B&S ball to Lachlan he reluctantly agrees to go, he knows trouble follows his brother and making sure he behaves is his priority. When Lachlan meets Charity, unexpectantly, on the way to the ball there are immediate sparks. Will this be a chance meeting, or can two different lives come together amongst all the obstacles and chaos?

The Blue Gum Camp is an emotional rollercoaster, a story skilfully crafted with sensitive topics of infidelity, grief, dyslexia, and dementia. The plot is engaging and has a depth that held me spellbound until the end. Kelsall built powerful characters – but with flaws that made them human and relatable. Her writing style is simple, and the dialogue flows freely weaving complex relationships, familial dynamics, and personal secrets into a thrilling tale of survival, resilience, and the healing power of love.

The book introduces each character in a way that you feel you know them and each one is likable. The main protagonists come alive with experiences they have faced which are deeply moving with emotional twists for all involved. There is plenty of character growth and I loved how each one discovered they can help each other to heal.

I enjoyed Charity’s journey from a place of vulnerability and fear to one of strength and self-discovery. Her struggles with losing a mother, raising her younger sisters, holding down a job and paying a mortgage will resonate with readers who have faced similar challenges in their lives. 

The introduction of Lachlan as a love interest adds depth and complexity to the story, with his secrets adding an intriguing layer of suspense. He is a definite heartthrob on the page with his rugged looks and rough-around-the-edges approach.

Charity and Lachlan’s strength and determination to make it through their journey for themselves and each other is inspiring. The supporting cast of characters is strongly written meshing well, I loved Faith and Hope and the bond they had with their sister.

The beautiful setting and description of the small town Yurramukka and surrounding places came to life with the Bachelors and Spinsters Ball bringing extra excitement to the novel. Born and raised in the country I felt like I was back in my youth attending one. 

Author Leonie Kelsall is becoming the voice of the South Australian rural outback; she has a unique way of getting under your skin. Her writing and the epic love stories she crafts are gripping, smart, and heartwarming. This is a touching and charming novel about love, betrayal, wounded hearts, and taking second chances in life and in love.

Any reader who enjoys a fantastic love story should absolutely read The Blue Gum Camp. If you have not yet gotten into Kelsall’s books, what are you waiting for? I highly recommend.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Blue Gum Camp. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Blue Gum Camp

  1. Charity lives in a structured way, looking after her family, her unwell mother, her father and her two sisters Hope & Faith. She is career oriented and dedicated to both her family and her work. Letting go, spending time just in the moment is not her, in any way.
    Lachlan works hard at the family farm, working the land in his blood. His brother Hamish went with option B, running his auto workshop, away from the judgmental views of their father. Especially in the absence of their mother, taken by cancer. The B&S ball with drinking, flirting and reckless behavior is not Lachlan’s style, but somehow Hamish, the free spirit that he is, has talked him into going.
    Hamish and Hope are out to find some fun, stretch their wings and embrace all that is B&S. Meeting due to an unexpected flat tyre, they did not foresee that their weekend will be entwined. More so, Charity and Lachlan, both not in the mood for frivolous behavior, both wondering how they got there and both finding the other irresistible. But how can this work, why would it…
    Drawing the reader in I found this book a great escape from reality, enjoying the varied personalities of each of the characters and the once in a lifetime type storyline. Thank you Leonie Kelsall & Beauty and Lace for this awesome escape!

  2. The Blue Gum Camp was my first ever Leonie Kelsall and certainly won’t be the last! To say this book was a read that captured me from word go is an understatement. Being a country girl myself I really appreciated and enjoyed the authentic rural setting and overall country vibe throughout the story itself.
    Charity is the very epitome of the “sensible girl”, (think 34-year-old woman – secure job and has a mortgage – how much more sensible can you be). She practically raised her 2 younger sisters when their mother became sick. She goes to the B&S ball with the intent to prove to her sisters she can be wild, and she can be fun. But I love when she encounters Lachlan (who has sworn of women forever) at the B & S ball they soon discover that the other is exactly what they need.
    Both Lachlan and Charity have their own secrets for why they aren’t looking for a partner but after their interaction at the ball and that time forward they realise things can change and that they are in fact perfect for each other.
    Thanks to Beauty & Lace, Allen & Unwin for my copy of The Blue Gum Camp and of course the talented Leonie Kelsall for her wonderful book that helped give me a much-needed escape from reality.

  3. Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin, for the opportunity to review ‘The Blue Gum Camp’ by Leonie Kelsall. I immediately fell in love with the three sisters, Charity, Faith, and Hope and their likenesses and that in many ways they are also poles apart.

    Charity the ‘older’ more responsible adult, always caring and putting others needs before her own, is initially not keen on attending the B&S Ball, but finally relents and joins her two younger sisters and their friends as they all squash into Hope’s tiny hatchback, Bee, and head off.

    Enter two chivalrous brothers, Lachlan and Hamish, with Lachlan also tagging along to the ball as his younger brother’s reluctant sidekick. After helping out the damsels in distress, they all set off on their way, unbeknownst that they are all headed to the same destination. Then fate steps in and amongst all the other fellow campers and glampers, they all reconnect at the B&S Ball when Lachlan just happens to return a lost item that landed in the dirt, to its owner.

    Having met Leonie personally in May last year at an Author event she was attending, I feel Leonie’s books written in her laidback and easy to read style, sprinkled with ockerisms and jewels of South Australian folklore, never disappoint.

    In ‘The Blue Gum Camp’ Leonie handles several sensitive topics in the story so beautifully with so much empathy and compassion, I shed a little tear, when Charity talked about her mother with so much love and respect.

    I highly recommend Leonie’s latest book, it’s a definite winner, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I can’t wait for Leonie’s next book.

  4. Thank you for the copy of The Blue Gum Camp by Leonie Kelsall.

    This is the story of Charity, one of three sisters Faith, Hope and Charity – and an out of character visit to a B & S Ball. Charity is usually the planner of the family and nothing seems to be going to plan.

    Lachlan was married, but his brother Hamish talks him into going to the same ball. Both Charity and Lachlan have secrets, but the initial chemistry is off the charts. Can they make it work when the both live about an hour apart and their family situations are complex. This book includes topics such cheating, dyslexia and family illness. There is a lot of seriousness, but still times with a sense of fun.

    This books details ordinary people learning and growing to try and be together. It made me cheer for them in the background, and want to visit Settlers Bridge. I would recommend for anyone who enjoys rural romance, and trying to sort out life a little.

  5. The Blue Gum Camp by Leonie Kelsall continues the Settlers Bridge series (all stand alone books if you haven’t read any yet), this time featuring Lauchlan MacKenzie a divorced farmer and Charity Farrugia a sensible, no nonsense school teacher who has taken over mothering her sisters after there Mum got sick.
    They both get dragged along to a Bachelors and Spinsters Ball with their siblings, both only going to keep an eye on said siblings.
    Sparks fly when they meet and their usual cautious natures are thrown out the window.
    Once again the characters are relatable, the dynamics of siblings are spot on, there are also some heavy subjects that the story revolves around, dementia, cancer and grief.
    The B&S scenes are spot on and are a large part of the story.
    An enjoyable book that held my interest all the way through.
    Thanks Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for the copy to read and review.

  6. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read The Blue Gum Camp by Leonie Kelsall.

    I loved this Aussie drama!

    Leonie never disappoints!!

    3 sisters and their 2 friends go to a B&S ball for the weekend to escape.

    2 brothers go to the B&S ball as well to escape their family and let loose.

    What happens that brings these 2 groups together?

    With a little romance and a bit of danger,and lots of hard topics,this is a great read!!

    Highly recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  7. The Blue Gum Camp” is a delightful Australian rural romance that captures the essence of love, humor, and unpredictability against the picturesque backdrop of the countryside. Leoni Kelsall skillfully weaves a charming tale that revolves around the sensible and responsible Charity Farrugia and the ‘sworn-off-women-forever’ farmer, Lachlan MacKenzie.

    The rural setting of the story is vividly depicted, immersing readers in the beauty of the Australian countryside. The narrative not only explores the budding romance between Charity and Lachlan but also touches on themes of family, self-discovery, and the unpredictability of love.
    “The Blue Gum Camp” is a heartwarming tale that strikes a perfect balance between romance and humor. The characters are relatable, the dialogue is witty, and the plot unfolds in a way that keeps readers engaged from start to finish. Fans of Australian rural romance will find this book to be a charming addition to their bookshef.

  8. I really enjoyed The Blue Gum Camp by Leonie Kelsall as it portrayed rural life without sugar coating it.

    The story begins with a right of rural passage, the B&S ball, and follows the main characters over a relatively short period of time. As relationships developed, so to did the characters and I really liked that this rural romance didn’t hide the less than perfect.

    I really liked the descriptive writing as it made the story so easy to picture, knowing some of the area and scenes portrayed also made this easier.

    The characters were well written, and the personal issues they were experiencing were written with care and respect.

    I was curious as to some of the minor characters, as their inclusion in the story and familiarity with main characters, made me think their stories are also out there waiting to be read.

    I’ll definitely be looking for more stories by Leonie Kelsall to not only meet her other characters but to also get my rural romance fix.

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