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Barbieri (Snow in July) sets her latest in a small Irish town, Glenmara, where a heartbroken American tourist, Kate Robinson, finds her one-night stay extended with the help of some motherly role models. Kate's hostess, chronically grieving widow Bernie, draws the young Seattleite into a gossipy ring of lace makers. Kate, a former fashion designer, takes to them perfectly (one of several head-scratching coincidences), inspiring them to take on an empowering but controversial project. Although the focus is always on the positive, the narrative's strongest when exploring the less charming sides of Glenmara; rich sources of missed potential include the local priest, nicknamed Father Dominic Burn-in-Hell Byrne, and Bernie's irritable best friend Aileen, the only "lace society" member to regard Kate with anything but syrupy goodwill. The result is a sweet novel with few surprises. Even Kate's pivotal, inspirational idea-embellishing the ladies' undergarments with lace-suffers from murky logic (as do reactions from characters like Father Byrne). Still, Barbieri's world generates convincing warmth and emotion, making it worth a look for Friday Night Knitting Club fans between sequels. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.