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What Matters Most    by Luanne Rice order for
What Matters Most
by Luanne Rice
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

Once again we are reunited with the characters who stole our hearts in Sandcastles. Sister Bernadette Ignatius and Tom Kelly return to Ireland to search for their son. Years earlier, Bernie and Tom were lovers. She gave birth to their son in Dublin but because of her strong faith and calling to the Church she put him up for adoption even though Tom was against it. They returned to the United States where Bernadette was Mother Superior at Star of the Sea Academy in Connecticut. Tom gave up his right to his family fortune, choosing to work as caretaker at the Academy and stay close to Bernie, his one true love.

In Dublin, Seamus Sullivan is looking for Kathleen Murphy. She is the closest thing to family he has known while being raised at St. Augustine's Children's Home. Seamus and Kathleen bonded from childhood and grew to love each other deeply at a young age. Neither was adopted out, but Kathleen's parents came back to claim her. She was taken to the United States where she lived a hard existence, assisting her parents in a life of crime. She soon broke away and worked as a cook and maid for a wealthy family in Newport, Rhode Island, never giving up hope that some day she would be with Seamus again.

Bernie and Tom find their son working as a tour driver for a local hotel in Dublin. When they present themselves as his parents, they find an angry young man in denial. He refuses any help from them and insists he does not need them in his life now that he is twenty-three years old. But after Tom makes several attempts to explain the situation and circumstances to him, Seamus begins to have a change of heart and opens up to Tom about growing up in the children's home. He confides to Tom his love for Kathleen and his search for her.

Returning to the United States, Bernie and Tom resume their lives, but their hearts are still in Ireland with their son. After hearing that Seamus is flying to the States, Tom puts a plan in motion to reunite his son with Kathleen. He calls on favours from his wealthy cousins in Ireland, using their connections to help with the search. What Matters Most is revealed when a sudden death brings everyone together after secrets surface. This is a story of family love that is passed on from one generation to the next. Luanne Rice has given us a magical Irish tale with spiritual feeling.

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