Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage



A Valley of Betrayal
by Tricia Goyer

Reviewed by April Gardner

"...a moving account of the outset of the Spanish Civil War, an event that few Americans are familiar with."

In July of 1936, Sophie Grace, an American artist, has entered Spain under the guise of reporter’s assistant. However, her real purpose is to find her fiancé, Michael, in Madrid. Her goal changes as bombs begin to drop and a sniper snuffs out the life of her beloved. Alone in a foreign country that’s tearing itself apart in power struggles, Sophie finds dignity and purpose in nursing the wounded. It is only a small step from nurse to putting the surrounding battlefields on canvas as propaganda for the Communist cause. However, now she’s a target for the Fascists, and she’d better run.

Phillip Stanford has come to Spain as a member of the American track team. Refusing to run in the Olympics in Berlin for political reasons, Phillip and his trainee, Attis, are more than willing to put aside their running legs and pick up a rifle for the Spanish Communist cause. Anything to slow Hitler’s pace. And then, in a forest pocked by enemy artillery, like a vision, a woman appears. Phillip might not realize it yet, but God has placed him in Sophie’s path for a reason that neither of them would have imagined.

In Germany, pilot Ritter Agler, family friend of Goring Himmler himself, is preparing to join the secret German Luftwafe as they fight to gain air control over Spain. Only Ritter did not expect to be downed in Communist controlled Spain, nor to be stirred by the beautiful American nurse and painter.

A Valley of Betrayal is a moving account of the outset of the Spanish Civil War, an event that few Americans are familiar with. Ms. Goyer is very knowledgeable in the causes and events of the war and expertly leads the reader to a love for the Spanish people.

The Spanish Civil War was a battle between a bad cause and a worse cause—Fascism and Communism. However, Ms. Goyer does an excellent job of creating realistic sympathy toward the Communist, or Republican, party, who truly believed they were fighting for a better Spain.

The individual characters are spotlessly written, and Ms. Goyer’s style is appealing and impressive.

Having grown-up among the Spaniards of Madrid, I still had much to learn about this bloody war. I have visited the battlefields, seen the fortresses pocked by war, and experienced the country just a decade after the end of Generalissimo Franco and his suffocating fascist rule. However, I never truly understood what the Spanish people endured until I picked up Valley of Betrayal, book one of Ms. Goyer’s Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War.

That being said, the book had a mind-boggling slow start. There’s plenty of action right off the bat, but there is no connection between any of five main characters until three-fourths of the way through. Because of that, I found it difficult to maintain an interest in the characters’ plights, and read merely for the historical content. When the characters did finally begin to connect with one another, the book’s appeal made a 180 and finished with a “wow!” So, stick with it. It’ll be worth it in the end.

I immediately moved on to A Shadow of Treason, book two of the series, and I soon realized that book one was merely a warm-up. Stay tuned for a review of A Shadow of Treason.

To sum up, I highly recommend A Valley of Betrayal for its accurate and heart-wrenching account of Spanish history. When the last page is turned, you’ll feel a deep connection with the Spanish people, mourn their losses, and applaud their endurance in the midst of the horrors of war.

April GardnerApril W Gardner writes adult and middle grade historical fiction. Her first novel, Wounded Spirits, releases with Vintage Romance Publishing in November of this year. She is a member of ACFW and reviews for Title Trakk, At Home With Christian Fiction, and FIRST Wild Card Blog Tours. A military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her darling Hubby. A homeschool mom, she fills her mornings talking fractions and phonics with her two sweet kiddos. In her free time, April enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian. Visit April's Website or her blog, A Writer's Journey. You can also get to know April on Facebook and Twitter.