Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review: Maestra by L.S. Hilton




By day, Judith Rashleigh is a put-upon assistant at a prestigious London art house. By night, she’s a hostess at one of the capital’s notorious champagne bars, although her work there pales against her activities on nights off.

TO GET WHAT SHE WANTS

Desperate to make something of herself, Judith knows she has to play the game. She’s transformed her accent and taught herself about wine and the correct use of a dessert fork, not to mention the art of discretion. She’s learned to be a good girl. But when Judith is fired for uncovering a dark secret at the heart of the art world—and her honest efforts at a better life are destroyed—she turns to a long-neglected friend. A friend who kept her chin up and back straight through every slight: Rage.

SHE WILL CROSS EVERY LINE

Feeling reckless, she accompanies one of the champagne bar’s biggest clients to the French Riviera, only to find herself alone again after a fatal accident. Tired of striving and the slow crawl to the top, Judith has a realization: If you need to turn yourself into someone else, loneliness is a good place to start. And she’s been lonely a long time.


This is a fairly interesting book, given the hoopla surrounding it. People have been comparing this to various books, especially Fifty Shades of Grey, due to the book containing a moderate amount of sex scenes. I need to say straight off that I'm not  a Fifty Shades fan, so when I picked this up I was more expecting to find something new to poke fun at.

People picking this up hoping that it will contain as many sex scenes as FSoG will be disappointed. Yes, there is sex in the work, but it's nowhere near as prevalent as some of the professional reviews would have you believe. The book *is* liberally sprinkled with sex or references to it, but it's more of an afterthought than anything else and Hilton could have probably removed or reduced many of these scenes without harming the novel. Doing this probably would have worked out well for Hilton, as the critics were right about one thing. The sex scenes are easily the weakest part of the book. They're not awful, but they just feel a bit superfluous at times. It's not Laurell K Hamilton level, where her characters go "OK! STOP - SEXY TIME" (my apologies to MC Hammer) at ridiculous moments, so the book does have that going for it.

The characters are OK enough for the most part, although the majority of them just sort of faded in and out of the book. I don't know that I could really name many of the characters outside of Judith and Rupert, as I forgot about many of them once they'd served their purpose in the book. Judith is relatively interesting, as she's far from a likable person but still has some occasional twinges of regret now and again. I'm not entirely sure that I buy the rage portion of Judith's character, as was promised in the book jacket synopsis, though. She's angry at times but by large she's written as cold and clinical. Not a bad thing, but if you're expecting a furious character ala Gillian Flynn, you're going to be disappointed.

Maestra really takes off whenever Hilton starts writing about art and the forged paintings, as this is easily the most entertaining stuff in the book and I can't help but wish that there was more of this as opposed to the sex and murder. I like books that have unlikeable, yet compelling lead characters, but this just wasn't quite a four star read for me. It's certainly entertaining and would make for a good beach read, but I can't help but hope that Hilton manages to work out the kinks in part two of the series otherwise I'm not sure that the Maestra series has enough gusto to make a satisfying trilogy.

What I will say is that this is better than Fifty Shades. I know that isn't a hard bar to sail under and that for most readers it's like saying that breathing in Taco Bell farts is better than someone holding your head underwater until you stop making bubbles. It's still better, so don't let the Fifty Shades comparisons scare you off.

3/5 stars

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