OF LOVE AND TREASON by Jamie Ogle
GENRE: Historical/Roman Empire Romance (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: January 23, 2024
Valentine defies the emperor and becomes a hero . . . and the most wanted man in the empire. Compelled by his faith, he has nothing to lose, until a chance encounter with the daughter of a Roman jailor changes everything.
Rome, AD 270. In the wake of the emperor’s marriage ban, rumors swirl that there is one man brave enough to perform wedding ceremonies in secret. A public notarius and leader of an underground church, Valentine believes the emperor’s edict unjust and risks his own life for the sake of his convictions. But as his fame grows, so do fears for his safety.
Iris, the daughter of a Roman jailor, believes regaining her sight will ease the mounting troubles at home. Her last hope rests in searching out Valentine and his church, but the danger of associating with people labeled a threat to the empire is great. Still, as Iris’s new friends lead her to faith in God, Iris is drawn to Valentine and they both begin to hope for a future together beyond the treacherous empire.
But when a past debt and a staggering betrayal collide, Valentine, Iris, and everyone they love must fight for their lives . . . and wrestle with trusting a God who can restore sight yet does not always keep His followers from peril.
“It is easy to trust in God when He works miracles, but will we trust Him even if He does not?”
Going in to Of Love and Treason, I knew there wouldn’t be the usual HEA ending – at least not in the sense I’m used to. After all, the reason we celebrate Valentine’s Day is because of a martyr. I almost didn’t read it because of that. Almost. But I’m so glad that something about this story kept calling to me because it’s such a beautifully written novel with vibrant characters and a deeply compelling plot. From these words in the opening paragraph – “He does not look like the hero they imagined, this shortish gap-toothed scribe.” – I was hooked, captivated by the courage these characters showed and the way Ogle gave new life to an often-overlooked historical account.
The four main characters we follow through this novel will grab your attention at their first introduction and keep you immersed in their stories until the very end. An ending which you will undoubtedly need tissues for but also one that is steeped in hope and joy and the truest promise of the ultimate happily-ever-after, leaving your eyes and your heart equally full. I loved Iris and the spiritual journey she experiences along with her father (who is admittedly a very complicated character) and her childhood friend Titus (who is torn between duty and love). The way Ogle has presented Valentine, the layers to his story, and the complex struggles he must wrestle through ensures I will never see Valentine’s Day quite the same way again. Instead, I’ll celebrate it with a richer understanding of love and sacrifice and faith. There are no easy answers or smooth paths when it’s against the law to be a Christian, and deciding to follow Jesus when the stakes are that high is something that American believers can’t fully understand. The phrase ‘counting the cost’ – that we tend to throw around so casually – takes on new meaning when reading a story like this.
Bottom Line: Before I read Of Love and Treason, I knew the story of St. Valentine. Now, thanks to Jamie Ogle’s heartfelt writing and thoughtful imaginations, I feel as though I’ve lived it with him. This novel is an achingly beautiful love story, yes. It’s also an education in early Church persecution, one which re-humanizes a real person who has become almost a myth and places us in the middle of a pivotal moment in his life. With her skill in crafting multi-dimensional characters and her engaging writing voice, Ogle has masterfully balanced entertaining the mind and touching the heart. But even more than all of those things, Of Love and Treason paints a beautiful picture of the transforming power of the Gospel, the promise of Life beyond the grave, and the true meaning of Love. I will be thinking about this story for a long time… and especially every Valentine’s Day.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. In the interest of full disclosure, the company for which I freelance as a blog/review tour coordinator was hired to promote this book with a social media tour, with which I have no involvement. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!
KissingBook Level: 3+ / will forget to breathe on occasion
Jamie Ogle is a pre-dawn writer, homeschool mom by day, and a reader by night. Inspired by her fascination with the storied history of faith, she writes historical fiction infused with hope, adventure, and courageous rebels. A Minnesota native, she now lives in Iowa with her husband and their three children, and she can usually be found gardening, beekeeping, and tromping through the woods. Learn more about Jamie at jamieogle.com.
Check out my interview with Jamie about Of Love and Treason!
What about you? What makes you want to read Of Love and Treason by Jamie Ogle?