The Lion’s Heart #samesexattraction

The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt encompasses the beautiful teachings of the Catholic Church on same sex relationships.  It won the 2016 Catholic Arts and Letter Award for Adult Fiction.
Front Cover Final revisedsm

Synopsis:
Paul Meyer has never let anyone get too close. Until Max. The Lion’s Heart is a heart-rending story about love and sacrifice. The emotional struggle of Paul’s same-sex attraction, the guilt he feels, and his ambivalence toward his Catholic faith all come together in this look inside the heart of a tortured man.

Excerpt
It wasn’t the deception, unpleasant as it was, that troubled him. In fact, he simply couldn’t put his finger on it. All he knew that was truly different with Max was that he loved him. And it was that, that single stark truth, which made everything different. He never loved before… He put the empty wine glass on the balcony floor beside him and tried to find again that mysterious, interior quiet that city noise always brought him. But he felt instead a kind of disquiet that seemed urgent… Love was never wrong. He’d heard that so often from sincere people, good people… ‘Love is never wrong.’ More than a platitude, it became a mantra. No one could argue with it, not without being judgmental or bigoted. Paul himself always believed it, although he never thought much about it before—never had much reason to think about it. But then, he’d never really loved anyone before…

Reviews 
“Dena Hunt is a consummate storyteller who does not shirk or shy away from the difficult questions about life and love that her story raises. The Lion’s Heart contains not only the loves of lovers, spouses, parents, and children but also the demons and dragons that selfishness unleashes. The Lion’s Heart is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it for the hard-hearted. It pulsates with a passion that will bring true hearts to their knees.” Joseph Pearce, author of The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, co-editor of the St. Austin
“It may be fiction but The Lion’s Heart reflects a truth that is as real as the sunrise. The moral conflicts and dilemmas are treated with dignity and there are no easy answers, though, thank God, there are answers. The style, beauty, and flow of Dena’s writing speaks for itself. I could not give this book a higher rating, for it is at the top of the charts. I thank Ms. Hunt for having the courage and the beauty of heart to see, feel, and love as she did – for this book is, above all, a work of love. May it be accepted as such.” A.K. Frailey, author The Deliverance Trilogy

“Dena Hunt conveys some of the very real struggles of those persons who have same-sex attractions (SSA), especially the shame, confusion, and misery that can accompany such feelings. She shows how that suffering can affect family and friends. The path to understanding homosexuality requires abundant patience, prudence, and good will because the topic is not primarily a controversial cultural issue, but rather a complex personal reality. It is one for which there is not one simple or general explanation – or response. This novel gives us a glimpse into the lives and hearts of those touched by SSA who are striving to understand themselves, and so to love genuinely after the example of Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church.” Rev. Paul Check, Executive Director, Courage

“Whatever side of controversy you call home, this book is a game-changer. With The Lion’s Heart, Dena Hunt gives us a compassionate story courageously told, depicting the truth in all its dimensions. Readers will never be the same, and with The Lion’s Heart, the landscape of faith-based fiction is changed forever.” Erin McCole Cupp, author, Don’t You Forget About Me

“The Lion’s Heart is a rocketing page-turner that had me hooked from beginning to end. The characters’ very genuine experiences with same- sex attraction, and its consequences, led me to a much deeper understanding and empathy for all those who must bear this burden. Above all, this story powerfully brings to life the reality that love often means saying “no” to one’s own desires, and instead choosing what is truly good for the other.” Christopher Blunt, author of Passport

You can purchase The Lion’s Heart on Kindle at this link.

It’s also available in paperback at this link.

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The Lion’s Heart FREE on Kindle Today Through Friday!

Front Cover Final revisedsmFREE today through Friday is the Kindle edition of The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt! All you need do is click on this link and download!

Synopsis:
Is love ever wrong? Paul Meyer has never let anyone get too close. Until Max. The Lion’s Heart is a heart-rending story about love and sacrifice. The emotional struggle of Paul’s same-sex attraction, the guilt he feels, and his ambivalence toward his Catholic faith all come together in this look inside the heart of a tortured man.

Excerpt:
“No, it wasn’t the deception, unpleasant as it was, that troubled him. In fact, he simply couldn’t put his finger on it. All he knew that was truly different with Max was that he loved him. And it was that, that single stark truth, which made everything different. He never loved before …. He put the empty wine glass on the balcony floor beside him and tried to find again that mysterious, interior quiet that city noise always brought him. But he felt instead a kind of disquiet that seemed urgent …. Love was never wrong. He’d heard that so often from sincere people, good people … ‘Love is never wrong.’ More than a platitude, it became a mantra. No one could argue with it, not without being judgmental or bigoted. Paul himself always believed it, although he never thought much about it before—never had much reason to think about it. But then, he’d never really loved anyone before….”

A Sampling of the Reviews for The Lion’s Heart:
“Dena Hunt is a consummate storyteller who does not shirk or shy away from the difficult questions about life and love that her story raises. The Lion’s Heart contains not only the loves of lovers, spouses, parents, and children but also the demons and dragons that selfishness unleashes. The Lion’s Heart is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it for the hard-hearted. It pulsates with a passion that will bring true hearts to their knees.”
Joseph Pearce, author of The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, co-editor of the St. Austin Review

“It may be fiction but The Lion’s Heart reflects a truth that is as real as the sunrise. The moral conflicts and dilemmas are treated with dignity and there are no easy answers, though, thank God, there are answers. The style, beauty, and flow of Dena’s writing speaks for itself. I could not give this book a higher rating, for it is at the top of the charts. I thank Ms. Hunt for having the courage and the beauty of heart to see, feel, and love as she did – for this book is, above all, a work of love. May it be accepted as such.”
A.K. Frailey, author The Deliverance Trilogy http://www.akfrailey.com

“Just as the movie Brokeback Mountain paved the road for widespread acceptance of homosexual love affairs, the novel The Lion’s Heart is poised to do the same for the Catholic view of homosexuality. Almost certainly the first of its kind, this gay Catholic romance novel is part of a growing effort of faithful Catholics to reach out to the gay community and share with them the deeply satisfying message of the Theology of the Body and the divine love that does not disappoint. Multi-dimensional and complex, The Lion’s Heart has something to attract and discomfit people at nearly every point along the spectrum of religiosity and sexuality – which is a good thing. At one juncture, I had to put the book down and walk away because it was too painful to watch the character of a good man slowly crumble. But I’m glad I returned to observe the romance’s bitter-sweet conclusion. The Lion’s Heart is well worth reading for its bold and audacious challenge to prevailing perceptions and misperceptions of homosexuality. With broad enough exposure, the book may succeed in changing more than a few hearts.” Katherine Santos, Can We Cana Blog

“The Lion’s Heart moved me to the core. Dena Hunt managed a rare feat: a delicately crafted novel that is at once a work of beauty and existential weight, and yet forces you to keep reading with all the urgency of a thriller.”
Bernardo Aparicio Garcia, Publisher, Dappled Things

“Whatever side of the controversy you call home, this book is a game-changer. With The Lion’s Heart, Dena Hunt gives us a compassionate story courageously told, depicting the truth in all its dimensions. Readers will never be the same, and with The Lion’s Heart, the landscape of faith-based fiction is changed forever.”
Erin McCole Cupp, author, Don’t You Forget About Me

“Dena Hunt conveys some of the very real struggles of those persons who have same-sex attractions (SSA), especially the shame, confusion, and misery that can accompany such feelings. She shows how that suffering can affect family and friends. The path to understanding homosexuality requires abundant patience, prudence, and good will because the topic is not primarily a controversial cultural issue, but rather a complex personal reality. It is one for which there is not one simple or general explanation – or response. This novel gives us a glimpse into the lives and hearts of those touched by SSA who are striving to understand themselves, and so to love genuinely after the example of Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church.”
Rev. Paul Check, Executive Director, Courage International

“If I had not been familiar with Dena’s writing, I would have passed on this novel due to the subject matter. I read the book because I know Dena as a daily Mass communicant and fellow parishioner. I know I can trust her to have something meaningful to say and to say it in a beautiful way. “The Lion’s Heart” does not disappoint. The topic of same sex attraction might be troublesome at first but Dena goes for the heart of the human condition. She writes about the universal conditions of desire, betrayal, contrition, and forgiveness. As a devout Catholic she includes characters we will all recognize, showing us their shortcomings as well as their redeeming qualities. At the core of it all is a human heart made in God’s image to be redeemed only by our loving God.”
Deacon Paul Worth, Texas

If you would like a FREE Kindle copy, head on over to Amazon.com and download it for FREE!

The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt – Review

lions-heartMy latest review at CatholicFiction.net:

When I was first asked to review this book, I immediately went to Amazon to read the (very) short summary. Needless to say, I was tentative and doubtful that this would be the type of novel I would want to read…until I perused the reviews from faithful Catholics such as author Joseph Pearce, Bernardo Aparicio, publisher, and Rev. Paul Check, Executive Director of Courage International.

Admittedly, my curiosity was piqued. Before reading this novel, I had never thought much about the struggles of Catholics with same sex attraction.

Paul Gonzalo Meyer is a cradle, non-practicing Catholic. He shies away in disgust at anything Catholic. He has spent most of his life in and out of casual homosexual relationships, especially staying away from long-term serious relationships with men because “sustained intimacy was not to his liking…he liked belonging to everyone, not just one person which is to say that he liked everyone belonging to him while he himself belonged to no one.” Paul is a charming man who gets along well with both men and women. Despite his selfish lifestyle, Paul is a likeable character.

Max (Allen Martin Maxwell Jr.) is a junior partner in a law firm in Atlanta which he describes as an “exceptionally dull but lucrative business.” He and his wife, Michelle, a beautiful blonde, were high school sweethearts who have been happily married for many years. They have two children, Jake, 15 (who lives away at prep school) and Roxie, 11. Michelle works at a local art gallery, Hunter’s. Max and Michelle are living the wealthy American dream.

Paul is hired as the new executive director of Hunter’s Art Gallery. Michelle invites the new director to dinner where he has the opportunity to meet her husband (Max) and daughter as well as Michelle’s parents.

Paul’s initial attraction is to Max and Michelle’s sense of family. Max offers to help Paul in setting up legal and financial arrangements for Paul’s Spanish grandmother, who is very elderly and is suffering from intermittent dementia. As the two men begin to work together, there is a growing mutual attraction. Max has “never had a response like this to anyone before, man, woman – or child. The near touch of Paul’s hand had left him feeling breathless.”

Paul realizes that Max has never experienced same sex attraction and being “in love” with another man. Thinking that Max might be confused, Paul delays the beginning of the affair. But Paul has his own growing attraction to Max and the two eventually enter into an adulterous affair. “Paul was happy – so happy that he believed he’d never really been happy before in his whole life.”

Their feelings are intense, passionate and the two are convinced it is not based only on physicality. Eventually, they declare their love for one another. This begs the question: “Can love ever be wrong?” Throughout the story, the characters (and reader) eventually discover an answer to this question.
During this illicit affair, Max and Paul undergo major transformations. At first, Michelle doesn’t notice the subtle changes in her husband’s behavior, but the differences soon become too obvious to miss.

Paul also grows to love Max’s family as his own. Eventually, through a series of life-changing events, Paul comes to understand the truth about love. The ending is unexpected.

About same sex attraction, the Catechism says (2358): They do not “choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” (Emphasis mine).

Dena Hunt paints a realistic and multi-dimensional portrait of the challenges of same sex attraction, which is a controversial topic. This is an outstanding book, well-written, well-researched and deeply moving. Although I’m a faithful Catholic woman married to the same man for 31 years, I found myself identifying and empathizing with all the characters. The message of this book shines through beautifully without being preachy. I literally did not want to stop reading from the moment I began this book. The characters were so real that I felt like I knew them; descriptions were not over the top, but just right. I truly felt like I was experiencing the journey along with the characters.

This novel has what every great novel should have: beautiful writing with a compelling, moving story, well-defined characters, crisp setting descriptions, brilliant narrative voice and a strong moral message. Because of the mature themes, this book is appropriate reading for adults 18 and over. I highly recommend “The Lion’s Heart” and I look forward to reading future books by this gifted novelist.

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach