The Crimson Heirlooms


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
472 Pages
Reviewed on 03/25/2018
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Author Biography

Hunter Dennis was a scriptwriter in Hollywood starting with his first sale to the studios in 1998. He has been credited on several films, one of which was distributed internationally and made over 160 million dollars. Since the completion of his first novel, "The Crimson Heirlooms", he has wholly converted to writing prose.

Hunter comes from a distinguished military family, has lived in three countries and across America. He was accepted into the University of Southern California Film School in the Production major as an undergraduate. Before optioning his first screenplay, he worked on a road slurry crew, cleaned a restaurant, and learned how to box.

​He currently lives in Thousand Oaks, California, and looks forward to starting a family somewhere far more green, wet and cold.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite

The Crimson Heirlooms by Hunter Dennis is set in France from 1776–1832, and in the West Indies. The story centres on two characters, Xavier and Jake, born at different times but loosely connected through their heritage. Xavier Traversier’s family had once been the most important in Nantes, but had since fallen on hard times. His mother had become a recluse and Xavier’s first venture into high society was a disaster. From that moment on, he vowed to rebuild their fortunes and, through sheer hard work and an excellent brain, he succeeded. However, one of the ways he achieved this was by transporting slaves. Jake was at school when he first took part in the riots in Paris and was only released from prison on the promise of finding the Crimson Heirlooms, one a valuable cross called the Cross of Nantes and the other the words to the devil’s song as he danced across the hills of France.

When I chose to read and review The Crimson Heirlooms by Hunter Dennis, I was expecting a historical tale of finding hidden treasure, but this is a completely different book. Firstly, I needed to brush up on the gaps in my French history as it’s not a straightforward account of the usual storming of the Bastille and Madame Guillotine. Both major characters, Xavier and Jake, become involved with the Freemasons and much is described about their organization and outlook. There are extensive discussions of philosophers, especially Rousseau and Montesquieu, and the ideas which underpinned the newly liberated American constitution. Part of the story takes place in the West Indies as the thread of the whereabouts of the Cross of Nantes is transported across the Atlantic. Jake also visits Northern Ireland and learns the history of those who were persecuted by the occupying English forces.

This book is literary, thought-provoking and covers the major social issues of the times, especially pertaining to the French clergy who paid no taxes yet received huge payments from a variety of tolls levied on the poor and middle classes, which were often gambled away at the tables in the chateaux owned by the noble ruling class. I was getting worried as I approached the end of the book as to how all the characters would tie up, and if the cross was found and with what ramifications... The quality of the writing, the excellent characterization, the food for thought, the extensive research and the informative and helpful maps throughout won’t allow me to give it anything else but 5 stars.

Romuald Dzemo

The Crimson Heirlooms by Hunter Dennis begins with a prologue that offers intriguing information about the contents of this book: a search for the two most powerful heirlooms that could change the course of history, one tangible and the other intangible — The Cross of Nantes, fashioned for a king with Olmec jadeite and the finest diamonds with crimson hue, and the words of the Devil’s song as “he danced across the blood-drenched hills of the Vendée Militaire.” The story is set against the backdrop of a turbulent political period in France, during the French Revolution. And in 1832, an American student, Jake Loring, is blackmailed by Monsieur Tyran to search for the two mysterious crimson heirlooms that have gone missing for years. It’s a matter of life and death. But will he succeed with enemies everywhere and France’s destiny on the line?

The reader is transported into a world where history comes alive — a politically difficult time for France — to journey with a hero beset by enemies from all sides. It’s a world of illicit sex, blackmail and stabbings in the back, political intrigue, war, and greed. In the heart of the conflict are two prominent families: the Traversiers and the Guerriers of Saint-Domingue. Readers will appreciate the beauty and the relevance of the setting, a brilliant recreation of Paris in difficult times. Jake Loring is a well-imagined and skillfully developed character and readers will enjoy following him as he searches for clues leading to the two heirlooms, embarking on a perilous adventure for his freedom. Hunter Dennis’s writing is confident and the reader is left in no doubt that this novel is well-researched. The Crimson Heirlooms is a historical novel that is suspenseful, engrossing, and riveting.

Rabia Tanveer

The Crimson Heirlooms by Hunter Dennis is the story of a man’s quest to find something that might be difficult to locate, but he has no other choice ... he must try. This is the story of Jake Loring, an American living in Paris to further his education. Jake was enjoying his time in beautiful Paris; however, he had no idea that his life would be changed the moment he is “approached” to do something impossible. Jake is given five years to find the Crimson Heirlooms. If he fails, he will die.

The Crimson Heirlooms consist of two items; a necklace called the Cross of Nantes and something that is more of a riddle than a tangible item. Jake is approached by Monsieur Tyran to find these two items within five years or else... There is nothing that Jake can do but his best to locate these precious items. He cannot turn back, he cannot run and he definitely cannot hide. Finding the necklace might be easy, but the second item, what is that? What can he do? Will Jake find the Crimson Heirlooms? Will he get some guidance or is he doomed to die?

Intense, fast paced and very well-written, The Crimson Heirlooms by Hunter Dennis is a gem and one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read. From the get go, Mr. Dennis set the mood for an epic journey that had me hooked. I thoroughly enjoyed the flow of the story, the development of the characters and how easily the story moved from one time line to another. I loved Jake, how he fought, clawed and screamed his way until the very end. Saying that I enjoyed this novel is not enough. It is simply fantastic!

Divine Zape

History and mystery written into an exhilarating adventure, The Crimson Heirlooms by Hunter Dennis is the kind of book you just can’t put down once you start reading. It’s a tale of mystery that begins in 1776, and while there is turmoil and drama involving two families, the Traversier family and the Guerriers of Saint-Domingue, two heirlooms are forged as weapons of destruction. Years will roll by and the heirlooms will disappear — mentioned only in rumours. But then in 1832, an American student living in Paris, Jake Loring, will be coerced into locating the heirlooms — the Cross of Nantes and the secrets buried in the lyrics of a song. While it is almost impossible to locate the relics, the protagonist has to find his way through a path fraught with danger and betrayal, and powerful forces bent on making sure he doesn’t succeed.

Hunter Dennis has a great gift for storytelling and knows how to create a setting that absorbs the reader completely. Readers who know something about French history will revel in the locales, the historical context, and the geography in which the story takes place. Jake is a great character for a protagonist and readers will enjoy his grit, his intelligence and resourcefulness, and his fight to stay alive in a ruthless world. The prose reads beautifully and the author’s diction will grab the reader. This story is filled with red herrings and twists that the reader won’t see coming, elements that create a sense of unpredictability for the reader. The Crimson Heirlooms is one of the best historical adventures I have read.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

The Crimson Heirlooms by Hunter Dennis is the historical tale of two heirlooms. One, the Cross of Nantes, is a priceless necklace; the other, a secret that is hidden in a song. Each heirloom, on its own, can change history but put them together and a heavy price must be paid for ownership. Set in France and the West Indies, 1776 to 1832, this is the story of Jake and Xavier, two different men born at different times but connected nonetheless. Jake, in 1832, an American student in Paris, tasked with finding the Crimson Heirlooms, finds himself involved with the Resistance. Xavier, 1776. The Traversiers were once a prominent family. Xavier vows to rebuild their fortunes and succeeds, but at what cost? Two stories, two adventures intertwined across the years. Can Jake find freedom when he finds the Heirlooms? Or will his life be forever steeped in blood?

The Crimson Heirlooms is Hunter Dennis’ first novel and, wow! what a novel. Historical fact mingles with earthy fiction, deep, twisted plot lines that cross over and a fabulous mystery to boot. For a first novel, this is amazing, written at the level of an experienced and long-term author. His exotic range of characters is so well developed that it's hard not to know them, to identify with them and fall into their stories wholeheartedly. This story has been written in a way that makes you feel as though you are there, to experience the whole range of emotions and to feel a sense of loss when it’s all over. This historical novel has been so well researched, peppered with fact, that you can’t help but fall under its spell. The story is to be continued, and I am looking forward to reading it.