Valeria’s Cross by Kathi Macias and Susan Wales takes place in the historically important time of the early 300’s (A.D.) in Rome and surrounding areas. Valeria is the daughter of Caesar Diocletian, one of the most powerful and cruel emperors of the Roman Empire, known as a great persecutor of early Christians. Valeria’s mother is Prisca, a Christian and empress of the Roman Empire. The story follows Valeria from late adolescence through adulthood as she struggles to survive as a converted Christian in these dangerous times. Her first love, Maurutuis, is also a Christian and is put to death under the orders from Galerius, a pagan believer and Roman general. She is forced to marry Galerius, and the rest of the novel focuses on her attempts to make her marriage hold together even though she and her husband are of different faiths. Valeria suffers from infertility which causes enormous strain, as Galerius becomes Caesar and needs an heir. She falls in love with another man, Maximus Daza, who is Galerius’ nephew. She quickly falls out of favor in the court and she, along with her mother, Prisca, must run for their very lives across the empire to try to escape the death sentence imposed on Valeria. Tragically, she becomes yet another victim of the times she lives in.
Even though biblical passages are often paraphrased throughout the book, a direct quote from the Book of Romans is presented by a bishop before an execution. It is an appropriate quote about being slaughtered like sheep, yet nothing can separate the true Christian from Jesus Christ in love and dignity. The devotion Valeria has toward God is very evident, since she is challenged every moment of her married life to Galerius. He is pompous and wicked, not above killing his enemies or even close friends and relatives. Valeria confronts and forgives him for the deaths he causes, but needs God’s support to keep her relationship in perspective.
Although a good, easy-to-read novel, this story deserves a more in-depth treatment, considering the subject and historical time setting. The pace is too fast, with little description or analysis of the main characters. Valeria is the protagonist and the reader is quickly attuned to her predicament, but considering how important these times were to the early Christian movement, just before Constantine turned the pagan empire into a Christian realm, there was plenty of opportunity to expand the novel into a real work of historical fiction. It is certainly an enjoyable story, but could have been something even more. – Anita Tiemeyer, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
In the 3rd century, pampered Roman princess Valeria falls in love with Mauritius, captain of the Theban Legion. She sends him off to battle, where he suffers under the schemes of a notorious pagan general with an ambition for power and a lust for Valeria. In a scene based on true events, the evil Galerius kills Mauritius and his entire legion for their Christian faith. And in a shocking turn of events, the grieving Valeria is forced to become Galerius’ wife against her will. Never has a marriage been set up for such failure. Valeria loathes her new husband, but he seems to undergo a change of heart, adopting a child for her and giving her power and authority, and even love. She struggles with the commitment she knows she must keep, and the love she knows she will never find again.