Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself recommending a vampire love story. Vampires…not my favorite, ehem, food.
But I have to admit that Shannon Drake's Beneath a Blood Red Moon is strangely compelling. That's due in large part to the strength of the story line, which weaves in and out of history, depositing the reader in various times and places -- in a foggy Ripper-stalked Whitechapel alley or on a smoke-filled Civil War battlefield. Set in the vampire capital of America (thanks to Anne Rice) -- New Orleans, Beneath a Blood Red Moon further compels by featuring a lead vampire as far away from Lestat as possible -- a woman.
Magdalena Montgomery receives the ultimate hickey in 1840. But because her father is something of a resident expert on "vampyres", he saves Maggie from death by feeding her a nice warm cup of……blood. Maggie never actually "dies," but she is tainted enough to be considered a vampire and forced to live an undead life that she finds completely repellent.
Fast forward to current New Orleans. Maggie Montgomery is the owner of a successful upscale women's boutique. A trail of blood leading to her doorstep invites the attention of Sean Canady, a police detective investigating a brutal murder. The victim has been decapitated -- and it’s the second such murder in as many days. The blood to Maggie's door is all he has to go on. But when he meets the beautiful owner he knows she is not responsible…and yet…there is something strange about her…something Sean can't seem to put his finger on.
For Maggie's part, she is stunned to see the descendant of her true love -- another Sean Canady -- standing before her. Of course Maggie's secret can never be revealed -- there is no future for her and Sean. Yet she can no more resist him than she can the cravings which overcome her on the nights when the moon is full. Maggie throws herself into Sean's arms and into the murder investigation. She's convinced that the killer is someone she knows…someone who has haunted history…and someone who seeks her as the ultimate prize.
To give away more details would be to ruin the fun. Suffice it to say, there are enough goings on to keep things moving at a brisk pace. There may be a tad too many characters and their historical counterparts, but author Drake has basically done a fine job of weaving a fairly complex plot with some equally complex characters. Maggie is certainly no one-dimensional heroine.
Drake gives the reader a good taste of N'awlins and all its requisite "oddities" -- jazz, crypts, antebellum mansions, and voodoo. It makes for some pretty page turning fun!