BOOK CLUB: The Willow Tree Wharf

Click to rate this book!
[Total: 4 Average: 4.8]

The Willow Tree Wharf by Australian author Leonie Kelsall is a comfort read that has all the happily-ever-after scenarios one would expect in a good romance.

Samantha (Sam), thirty-seven, is the owner of Ploughs & Pies Café in Settlers Bridge. She has lived her entire life in the small town. 

Sam met her husband Grant when she was sixteen and they had been married for twenty- two years, after years of putting up with his abuse which had worsened over time, she now finds herself sleeping out the back of her café.

With the help of Christine, a member of the CWA and town busybody, Sam decides that she is finally moving on from her life as a victim at the hands of her husband. Her life was now her own to live and rebuild from the aftermath. Healing and gaining her confidence back were going to take time, but she was looking forward to spreading her wings and trying new things.

Pierce DeAngelis arrives at Settlers Bridge to help his friend Gabrielle with catering for a wedding. When asked he jumped at the opportunity — life in Adelaide was becoming too tense working as a chef in his parents’ trattoria. His troublesome younger brother Dante had returned, and he wasn’t going to sit back and watch his parents make excuses for his brothers’ actions. 

When Pierce meets Sam, he is drawn to her. She is very tense and anxious, but Pierce sees something in her and was willing to take the time until her walls came down. Both are looking for a fresh start, when an opportunity to start a future business together restoring Pelicanet, a 150-year-old paddle-wheeler, on the river’s edge. Could this be the solace they are looking for?

This is not a fast-paced story, but it is filled with emotion and drama, with compelling dialogue, thorough descriptive narrative, and a driven plot to push the reader to follow the two main characters Samantha, and Pierce to the very end. 

I instantly liked both. Sam has a caring nature but a hard exterior and does not open herself up to people. As her character moved forward, it was a joy to see her blossom and come out of her shell. Pierce is respectful of boundaries, dependable and trustworthy. They are good people doing noble work for all the right reasons. 

Samantha and Pierce’s pain from the past was depicted well enough, you can understand why they were fearful of letting down their defences and getting involved in a relationship. Their hearts have indeed become undone by past tragedy. Kelsall does more than tell us just how damaged this couple is; we see it in the hesitancy of the early interactions and the self-doubt that pops up on occasion. Can they put the past in its proper place for the future?

I grew up in a small town and I love the portrayal of the closeness and warmth of small-town feels at its best. The delightful cast of characters from previous books are easy to connect with, I felt as though I was reconnecting with old friends. 

As with a small town, you get the busybodies who feel free to voice their own opinions on the town folk and no one gossips more than the ladies from the CWA, especially Christine. Regardless of her blabbermouth she has a kind heart and shows compassion.

Leonie Kelsall has a deft hand when it comes to writing romance. She chooses her words and scenes carefully so that the reader never forgets that romance does not always come easy in the real world. Sometimes it may need a little help from a magical setting, a good friend, or simply kismet.

What I liked most about The Willow Tree Wharf was the sensitivity and care with which the author crafted the domestic abuse, each scene and the interaction between the characters. 

I loved the cover of the book, readers will be drawn to the wholesome feel and beautiful setting, it shows warmth and happiness and will attract readers to this genre. 

From the moment I started reading The Willow Tree Wharf, I was hooked. I have read Kelsall’s novels prior and have always enjoyed her novels, but this one was really a standout for me. I highly recommend. 

A selection of our members are reading The Willow Tree Wharf by Leonie Kelsall. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Willow Tree Wharf

  1. The Willow Tree Wharf by Australian author Leonie Kelsal
    A beautifully written story with the main character Samantha 37 years old and living and growing up in a small town called Settlers Bridge . She owned and worked at the local cafe in town called Ploughs and Pies.
    Samantha had married youngto her husband named Grant another strong character in the story
    he believed a wife should be there when he got home from work and cooked his meals he learnt this from his mum who taught him everything about a 1950s housewife .
    He also liked to get drunk and Sam would sleep in the Cafe to avoid any conflict as he had a bad temper and abusive marriage.
    She loved her Nan and Pop but was reluctant to visit them because of Grants behaviour.
    Then in walks Pierce di Angeles a city restaurateur who understands Samantha and what she is going through.
    Together they work on opening a resturant together doing up an old paddle steamer will romance blossom or it stay completely professional will all Sam’s dreams come true .
    What a great drama and a fun book to read it made me happy .
    Thankyou Beauty and Lace .

  2. Thank you for the copy of The Willow Tree Wharf by Leonie Kelsall.

    This is a rural romance that shows these books are not all the same. The people feel more real and the story has believable aspects where life is gritty and not always tied with a ribbon. This is the story of Samantha who lives in the town of Settlers Bridge on the river. Her marriage has not been a good one, but at least she has her café Ploughs and Pies. Here she can indulge her love of food and baking. Pierce di Angelis is a city guy in the family food business until everything changes with his family and business. Sam and Pierce connect over their shared love of food and cooking and a potential new venture. Their lives and pasts are not clear cut and they have obstacles to overcome. Will their new feelings be enough to get them over the line?

    I love all the relationships in this book as they are not always usual, but are totally normal. I could identify with different parts of a lot of them. This also wasn’t a romance I normally get to read about, but I loved it all the more for this. I may not be on this path, but I could appreciate it and it was refreshing for being different. I would recommend for anyone who wants to read a different romance.

  3. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the chance to read this fantastic book by one of my favourite Australian authors.

    The characters were brilliant and very relatable, as was the story. I absolutely loved it. I couldn’t put it down.

  4. As expected, The Willow Tree Wharf was another wonderful book by author Leonie Kelsall.
    This is a story about 37 year old Samantha, who was married young after an unhappy childhood. Samantha has been held back by her own self doubts and insecurities which have kept her in the small rural town she grew up in, Settlers Bridge. Nevertheless she owns and successfully manages the local cafe, Ploughs and Pies, her refuge from her unhappy and abusive marriage to Grant.
    Enter Pierce Di Angelis, a city restaurateur who Sam connects with over their shared love of all things food. Both are wanting a fresh start and ultimately join forces to restore an old paddle-wheeler and create a unique restaurant.
    The story is an emotion filled, slow burn rural romance with interesting characters and back stories. Leonie Kelsall is able to portray the realities and grittiness of real life in which happy endings are often only reached after disappointments, hardships and difficulties.
    Fabulous, engaging and hard to put down.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read and review The Willow Tree Wharf, which I would highly recommend.

  5. Thank you, Beauty & Lace, for allowing me to read & review ‘The Willow Tree Wharf’ by Leonie Kelsall.
    On the outside, Sam is leading the perfect life, owner of Ploughs & Pies Café and living in Settlers Ridge, a small town, with her husband, Grant. But all is not as it seems, and the cracks start to appear. The reality of living with a bully and abuser makes Sam, with the support of her friend Christine, re-evaluate her life.
    Sam slowly learns to exist independently and dreams of using her baking skills to build a new life. Along comes Pierce, who is also looking to change his life. The two meet, and a possible future beckons, but will it work, and can they put their pasts behind them?
    This excellent romance story has a slow build-up, relatable warm and not-so-warm characters, where there is a possibility for a new chance at love. Thank you ‘Beauty & Lace Bookclub’ for the opportunity to read ‘The Willow Tree Wharf’ by Leonie Kelsall.

  6. Oh, I find some of the BEST reviews in this group!
    If you’d like to post them on Goodreads or Facebook, I’d very much like to share some of them on my social media.
    I’m thrilled you’ve all enjoyed Sam and Pierce’s story.
    Lee x

  7. The Willow Tree Wharf by Australian author Leonie Kelsall is a rural romance set in the country town of Settlers Bridge.

    Samantha the owner of the cafe Ploughs and Pies has a very controlling husband but finds the cafe a safe haven. She needs to leave her husband and eventually with the help of one of the older CWA ladies she gains enough courage to leave.

    After leaving her husband and deciding to stay in the area Samantha by chance meets Pierce who is visiting the area from Adelaide, where he has worked most of his life in his family’s Italian restuarant. Unfortunately he too has issues in his family.

    Samantha and Pierce develop a kind of friendship at first but then find out they both have a passion for cooking. Samantha eventually decides it’s time to try and move on from her insecurities and they start to form a great friendship and both want fresh starts in their lives.

    Samantha shows Pierce an old paddle-wheeler and her dream of restoring it. From here Pierce decides it’s time to move to the area and the restoration begins unbeknown to Samantha and the idea of setting up a unique destination restaurant evolves and he invites Samantha to see the changes.

    A great partnership is about to blossom but will they be able to work through all their own insecurities and Samantha’s lack of trust, and work together in a new business adventure?

  8. I honestly delight in Leonie Kelsall’s books so “The Willow Tree Wharf” was yet another one to add to my list of her books that I have read. I love how if you have read pervious books you will catch glimpses of characters that you have read about before and its lovely to get little updates on their lives.
    I feel that this book is rather special as it deals with the issue of Domestic Violence and how it makes the abused question if it is them that is perhaps the problem and all the while they are fighting hard to cover up whats going on and make excuses for the abuser. I am glad that Samantha found her strength and was able to move forward with her life and learn to trust again.

    This is a beautiful book that is well worth a read.

  9. Thanks Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Leonie Kelsall’s The Willow Tree Wharf.
    The story touches on the domestic violence Samantha has endured with her overbearing husband Grant but then Pierce sweeps in to rescue her and together they build a new future. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I have also read Leonie’s other books and some of those characters make appearances in this book. A great read ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  10. The Willow Tree Wharf by Léonie Kelsall was a really easy and enjoyable read, despite a serious storyline.
    The main characters Samantha (Sam) and Pierce both grabbed me and I loved their story.
    Sam is the owner of a bakery in the small town of Settlers Bridge who married young to a controlling bully. This results in her being insecure and doubting herself at every turn, despite the tiny inner voice which tries to tell her otherwise. Finding herself in an abusive marriage, she starts sleeping at the bakery to avoid being at home with her husband. The local busybody Christine picks up on what is going on and takes Sam under her wing, becoming her most unlikely supporter, guardian angel and to Sam’s surprise, friend. I loved reading about Christine and finding out about her heartbreaking back story. A story that sadly rings too true these days. With Christine’s help, Sam starts to rebuild herself and her life.
    Pierce works in his family’s restaurant in Adelaide but is never really given the chance to spread his wings. When his younger brother reappears and starts getting involved in the business with his parents backing it’s the last straw. Heading to Settlers Bridge to assist his good friend Gabrielle with catering he meets Sam and is instantly drawn to her. Not understanding her uncertainty or why her walls are up, he perseveres but in a respectful manner which slowly allows Sam to start trusting and opening up.
    Their relationship is a slow burn, but sweet, and it’s all too real to read how unsure, confused and at times damaging Sam is to herself due to her years of abuse.
    I loved reading this book, the small town characteristics were relatable and all characters played an enjoyable and important part in the story.
    Thank you for allowing me the chance to read this Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *