I read the first book in this series in the fall of 2021, and I had thought I would read this book during the Christmas season. Sadly, that didn’t happen – but don’t be fooled, this isn’t just a Christmas story. This book can be enjoyed at all times of the year!
Characters: Most of the characters from the first book in the series returned – yay! It was good to see Rachel, William, Sophia, and Peggy again. Peggy had definitely grown up in in this one (it’s set four years after book number one), and she had more of a key role. I loved how she and Sophia kind of took over the plot and grew closer! For me, Peggy seemed very childish sometimes, and her friends acted like teens. However, I think this is probably realistic because she was around ten. That’s getting into an age where kids are starting to grow up and wavering between “kiddie” stuff and pretending to be adults – and that’s exactly where Peggy and her schoolmates were at! William and Rachel weren’t in there quite as much as they were in the first book, but their plot was a bit secondary. Other new characters were introduced – Chloe and Neil were an interesting addition. Chloe was such a sweetheart, and Neil, while a bit gruff to begin with, started to come around. (Also, I have an inkling of what’s to come for the third book in relation to Neil. I’m so excited to see how it all pans out!) And of course, Steve and Terry, who are such fun side characters, rounded out the cast. (Also, Beth and Steve? That just made me so sad. Very bittersweet.) As for Crystal and her crew? Nope. Those kids were a bunch of spoiled brats. They did crack me up with their dressing-less salads. No wonder they were so grumpy!
Plot: Wow! I loved how it all came together to connect with the title. Although there wasn’t a lot of heart-pounding action or suspense, there was so much character development and different plots that the pacing was great. It was a very engaging read.
Moral/theme: A big moral in this one was not judging a person by what they’ve done in the past or by their appearance. Things aren’t always as they seem. Also, the sin of stealing was addressed quite thoroughly, as is fitting to the title. One part that made me quite uncomfortable, however, was the issue of remarriage after divorce. I personally don’t believe the Bible condones remarriage after divorce, and the characters came to the conclusion that it was fine. This wasn’t a huge part of the plot, but it was big enough for me to feel uneasy about it all.
Overall, though, this was an engaging, well-plotted read. Virginia’s writing style gives her a specific voice, and while isn’t grand or verbose, it fits the story well. I’m excited to read the next book in the series!
Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher/author. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.