A Valley of Betrayal (Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War) by Tricia N. Goyer, published by Moody Publishers (2007) is the first book in a series of three novels. I am recommending it for those who are college-age and above. It centers around a twenty-five year-old artist named Sophie Grace from Boston. The setting is Spain, 1936. Spain is engaged in a civil war between Spanish patriots and Nazi-backed Franco forces.

Traveling on a French train bound for Spain, Sophie has enough pieces of luggage for an extended stay. She is going to Spain to find her beloved Michael, a news photographer covering the war. He is from Spain; he and Sophie met in Boston several years ago. They spent time developing a serious relationship.

When Sophie gets off the train at the Spanish border, she realizes Spain has refused entrance to foreigners for a period of time. She meets a man who was on the same train. Walt Block, a reporter from New York, promises to help her find a way to Madrid if she will pose as his interpreter. She agrees and they proceed into the country.

Sophie is delighted to be reunited with Michael, but notices he seems to be hiding things from her. He is also gone a good amount of the time. They spend time dining together, going to various places and attending a bullfight. Michael’s relationship with Maria, a beautiful young woman who claims to be only Michael’s friend, troubles Sophie. In her mind, this woman’s interest in Michael goes deeper than that. Michael is vague about his relationship with Maria.

More characters are introduced. Phil Stanford, a teacher from the US and his best friend Attis Brody have recently arrived in Barcelona, along with other members of the American track team, to prepare for a race. Soon after they arrive, the war intensifies, the race is cancelled. Phil and Attis decide to volunteer on the front lines.

Meanwhile, Sophie is discovering that the war is disrupting her carefully arranged plans of a marriage to Michael. Michael tells Sophie that the fighting will begin soon and she can’t stay in the country. He wants her to leave for her own safety, but he also is hiding certain things from her. She doesn’t want to leave and decides to help in the war effort. (In the next two books we learn that Michael is involved in much more than his photographs, but I don’t want to spoil the mysterious plot.)

As the story continues, A Valley of Betrayal becomes more intricate and fascinating. Other interesting characters are introduced, and you find yourself obtaining an education about a war perhaps you never knew existed.

One of the main points of the book is that helping others in their time of need is a worthwhile endeavor. Sophie, Phil and other characters volunteer to help the Spanish people because they have developed a love for them. These characters also are growing in their faith and sense God’s calling on their lives.

Book 1 leaves you hanging. You will definitely want to read the second and third books in this series. To me, A Valley of Betrayal was more than a novel. It fleshes out reasons we serve the Lord and put others first. It shows the sacrifices many people who have come before us have made. It also shows the blessings of following the Lord as He calls each of us to serve Him.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”