WWRW: The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt

Join up with Jessica at Housewifespice and all the other coolest bookworms for What We’re Reading Wednesday.



“I am not afraid that the book will be controversial.  I’m afraid it will not be controversial.”

Flannery O’Connor

Today I’m reviewing one of the best, most powerful, most well-crafted, most heart-challenging books I’ve read in a very long time.  I am not exaggerating.  It’s The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt.  

Writers are often told to perfect “the elevator pitch,” a three-sentence summary of one’s book.  If you’re pitching a Catholic novel, I can’t think of a more interest-grabbing elevator pitch than the intro to the Amazon summary for The Lion’s Heart.  

Is love ever wrong?
Paul Meyer has never let anyone get too close.
Until Max.

Spoilers:  Max is not a girl.

Here’s my review as I posted to Amazon:

Whatever side of controversy you call home, this book is a game-changer. Dena Hunt gives us a compassionate story courageously told, depicting the truth in all its dimensions. The characters are clearly drawn as are their passions, conflicts, losses and triumphs. Hunt handles the divergent and convergent points of view of these characters–and their readers–with a hand both light and deft. Readers will never be the same. With The Lion’s Heart, the landscape of faith-based fiction is changed forever.

It’s so hard for me to elaborate on that, because The Lion’s Heart is more art than antagonism, more compassion than controversy.  I dare anyone who thinks the Catholic teaching on this subject matter is based on “hate” to read this book–really read it–and then continue thinking that “hate” is anywhere in the picture.

Double.  Dog.  Dare.

The love–yes, I’m going to use the word love here–between Paul and Max is depicted in every dimension imaginable.  Yes, the more conservative? hard-hearted? among readers may very well be furious that Dena had the guts to depict a romantic relationship between two men that includes elements of selflessness, of sacrifice.  “It can’t be anything like love at all.  Nope. Uh-uh  Never,” they may say.  Well, forgive me for pointing it out, but let’s not discount each other that deeply, shall we?  Dena sure doesn’t.  She gives us the great depths of passion and giving (or what we very well-intenioned-ly may believe is giving) of which all humans are capable of achieving when drawn to share intimately with another human being.

Long story short, nobody is demonized in The Lion’s Heart.  Nobody.   Every character is depicted from many angles for us to study and recognize as simply, beautifully human.  And, unfortunately, in our polarized world, that’s going to piss off a lot of people.  It’s going to piss off both sides of a Marriage March.  It’s going to piss off every single person on my Facebook friends list, half of them for one reason, and half of them for the exact opposite reason.  And isn’t that exactly the kind of thing that literature is supposed to do?

Brava, Dena Hunt, for giving us this book.  Bravo, Full Quiver Publishing, for putting so much on the line to publish it–a task that the Big Catholic Houses were, forgive me, too cowardly to do.  Bravo/a to you, Pride or Respect, if you have the guts to read it.

Triple.  Dog.  Dare.