28 April 2016

Review: Maestra by L. S. Hilton

Review: Maestra by L. S. HiltonShort take: L. S. Hilton's Maestra is a sexy, twisty thriller set in the art world of the UK and Europe.

What's it all about: Judith Rashleigh has worked hard to perfect the way she appears to the posh Londoners she hopes to befriend. She's lost her cockney accent and has distanced herself from her pedestrian background. Although she hasn't risen very high in her job at one of the major art houses, she's training herself for the day she'll be asked to meet with a wealthy client.

Meanwhile, she picks up extra cash and thrills working in the city's champagne bars, where she isn't necessarily required to do more than drink with the men, but, well, you know, sometimes the romp and/or the money is too good to pass up.

When her carefully constructed existence begins to crumble, Judith agrees to accompany a wealthy, married patron to the French Riviera. After witnessing an accidental death, Judith seizes on the opportunity hiding beneath the tragedy, determined that nothing at all will stop her from having the life she knows she deserves.

Thoughts: The publishers have compared Maestra to The Talented Mr. Ripley, and I can understand why. Judith is incredibly resourceful, with an uncanny ability to read people and do whatever is called for in any given situation, from setting up house in the correct Paris arrondissement to skipping town without a trace when circumstances become complicated.

Although the buying and selling of art plays a central role in the novel, Hilton oddly skimps a bit on the details in this realm. She does not, however, gloss over Judith's sex life, so be prepared for some hot and kinky scenes.

I enjoy books I can't figure out, and Maestra fooled me more than once. As I said, Judith is a clever woman, and like a good chess player, she is always looking several moves ahead.

Recommendations: L. S. Hilton's Maestra has earned starred reviews and a lot of buzz. While I wasn't quite as taken with the novel as were others, I am still recommending the book. It was an engrossing read that kept me guessing. And though I wish I had learned more about the business side of art collecting, I did learn a lot about after-hours sex clubs. Judith is a no-holds-barred kind of character, and I liked getting to know her -- at least on paper. The epilogue makes it clear there will be more Judith Rashleigh books to follow, and I'm looking forward to her new adventures. Rest assured, though, Maestra doesn't end on cliff hanger. Note: If you're thrown off by graphic sex, you'll want to give this a pass.

Audiobook: The unabridged audiobook (Penguin Audio; 10 hr, 20 min) was very nicely read by Emilia Fox, who had to meet several challenges in Maestra. She handled the variety of European and British accents beautifully and read through the sex scenes with aplomb. She built up the tension without tipping the listener off to what was coming up next and conveyed Judith's full range of emotions without veering into the overdramatic. A recommended audiobook.

Published by Putnam, 2016
ISBN-13: 9780399184260
Source: Review: ebook & audiobook (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Tina 4/28/16, 6:27 AM  

I wish I could listen to the books but my job and audio books don't mix. I can take a book and read on lunch and this sounds like one I would enjoy. Like you, I love a book where I don't have it figured out, lots of surprises.

bermudaonion 4/28/16, 8:54 AM  

I love books that keep me guessing but do better with them in print. This sounds good!

(Diane) bookchickdi 4/28/16, 9:15 PM  

I saw this book at work the other day. I like books that surprise me too, I'm going to pick this one up.

Daryl 4/29/16, 9:59 AM  

oooh, sounds like a good read, i, too, really like to be kept guessing ...

Iliana 5/1/16, 8:29 PM  

I feel like I keep seeing this one everywhere! Glad to hear you did enjoy it. I'll be adding it to my TBR list.

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