Title: The Farm at Peppertree Crossing
Author: Leonie Kelsall
Published: July 2nd 2020, Allen & Unwin
Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Allen & Unwin
Told with heart, humour and candour, The Farm at Peppertree Crossing is Leonie Kelsall’s first contemporary rural romance novel.
When Veronica is told she is to inherit an 800-acre farm in South Australia she is at first convinced it is a scam, and then certain it’s a mistake. Growing up within the foster care system she learnt the hard way to trust no one, and believing in the generosity of an aunt she never knew is difficult, so Roni is not surprised when she learns there is a catch. In a series of letters, her late aunt explains that to freely inherit the Peppertree Crossing Roni must complete a number of tasks. Single, pregnant and with few other options, Roni, with her beloved cat Scritches in tow, decides to accept the challenge, and perhaps find the home she’s always yearned for.
Kelsall explores familiar themes such as family, friendship, and love in The Farm at Peppertree Crossing. The themes of forgiveness and redemption are also strongly represented in a way I particularly appreciated. Several sensitive issues are also raised in the novel, among them sexual assault, addiction, suicide, and pregnancy loss, in a manner that feels genuine rather than contrived. These subjects add depth to the story, pushing it a little beyond the borders of the genre.
Romance is still a key element in The Farm at Peppertree Crossing though, with a twist on the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope between Roni and share-farmer, Matt. Roni’s first instinct, particularly around men, is to be wary and defensive and she misconstrues Matt’s genuine offer of advice, help and friendship as manipulative and devious. I appreciated that Matt is not cast as her saviour, Roni must reach the conclusion that she is worthy of love on her own before their relationship can progress.
Roni is a prickly character to begin with, nursing a deep hurt she is closed off, mistrustful, and stubborn. I really liked Kelsall’s development of her character, which is somewhat slow, but authentic. She’s destined to learn lessons the hard way it seems, but she does learn and grow. Her journey is supported by several charming characters, most notably her late aunt’s dearest friend/partner, Tracey, and Matt, but also of the four-legged variety which includes her cat, a sheep named Goat, and a calf named Baby.
Well written, thoughtful and engaging with an ideal balance of romance and drama, I am impressed by The Farm at Peppertree Crossing and look forward to more from the author.
Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99
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6 thoughts on “Review: The Farm at Peppertree Crossing by Leonie Kelsall”
I’d love to read this!
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A nice balance of romance and drama sounds good. I also like the idea that there are tasks for her to complete to get the farm; I am intrigued to know what they are.
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Trust in the foster care system has got to be good. I’m betting this is based in real life.
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