All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Maestra by L.S. Hilton

on March 2, 2016

MaestraMaestra
L.S. Hilton
Zaffre
2016, 384p
Copy courtesy Allen & Unwin

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Judith Rashleigh spends her days as a put-upon assistant at a prestigious London art house, and her nights moonlighting as a hostess at one of the capital’s notorious champagne bars.

TO GET WHAT SHE WANTS

Born on the outside, always looking in, Judith has worked hard to learn the rules of class. She’s transformed her accent, taught herself about wine and the correct use of a dessert fork, not to mention the art of discretion. When she landed the job at British Pictures she thought she was finally on the make, but in a place like the House it turns out she may never pass the test. When Judith is fired after spotting an art forgery that could have made her career, she turns to the long-neglected friend that kept her chin up and back straight through every slight: Rage.

SHE WILL CROSS EVERY LINE

Feeling reckless, she agrees to accompany one of the champagne bar’s biggest clients to the French Riviera only to find herself alone after a fatal accident. Tired of striving and the slow crawl to the top, Judith makes a decision. If you need to turn yourself into someone else, loneliness is a good place to start. Armed with beauty, wits, and insider knowledge of the art fraud that triggered her dismissal, Judith is determined to make her debonair lifestyle permanent—and her transformation complete.

This book confused me.

And I don’t mean that I couldn’t follow the plot, because that was easy enough. It’s just….it felt very much like it wasn’t really sure what it wanted to be. It starts out innocently enough – Judith works for a very prestigious London art house, constantly subject to outrageous demands and exasperation when she cannot complete her impossible or vaguely related tasks. Born into poverty with a mother who drank, Judith has pulled herself up, moderating her speech to hide her background. Despite this regular job, Judith also takes a second job to help her with money, providing “companionship” to men in a bar, encouraging them to order expensive drinks.

Then she is fired, because she could blow open an art forgery fraud and finds herself lacking the security she needs. And this is where the book takes a rather abrupt turn into unexpected territory. The first incident is quite accidental and could be explained away but the ones after that? Judith’s character as a coldblooded sociopath quickly emerges as she sees the way to not only elevate her to a new standard of living but also gain her revenge.

I feel as though Judith crossed a line so fast my head was spinning. One minute she’s an art house assistant looking to improve her position, expanding her knowledge of art and the next she’s murdering people in cold blood everywhere. And then there are the sex scenes – which I think are supposed to be erotic and highlighting danger but really all they are is kind of awkward. There’s definitely an excessive usage of the “c” word and I have to admit, it’s one of my least favourite words, especially in a sex scene. I don’t find it sexy or erotic and it tends to really throw me off every time I read it, especially if it’s preceded by the word “wet” or “aching”. But my biggest problem with the sex scenes was that they really don’t serve a purpose in the novel – I think they’re there purely for shock value. The first one just comes out of nowhere, all of a sudden you’re in a random threesome scene which makes no sense. Perhaps it’s just to highlight the carelessness of the set Judith occasionally socialises with in a ‘nothing is off limits’ kind of way, in an attempt to give another facet of her inability to really connect or have any sort of deep relationship with anyone. Judith’s interactions are all mostly brief and impersonal, all about the physical. Even when it seems like she’s trying to care about someone, it falls flat and comes across as weak and insincere.

Judith kind of has a knack of falling on her feet – whether it’s by convincing a wealthy client of the champagne bar to take her to France after she’s fired or working her way onto the luxurious yacht of a billionaire as a special guest who receives generous gifts whilst there. She also always seems to be able to find someone who will later be crucial to assisting her with something or other. She does think fast on her feet, I will give her that – she runs into someone that she doesn’t know will be there and it seems she has a plan in place very fast that will allow her to cash in and also get revenge and from there, every time it seems like it might be spiraling out of control she hauls it back and regains the upper hand.

But I remained ambivalent to her. Many people say you don’t need to love a protagonist to enjoy a novel and for many people that may be true. I’ve really liked some books where the characters were questionable but with Judith, I found that after the second or third murder I just kind of gave up caring anything about this book. I was hoping she’d get caught but then I got to the last page and saw these three words

To Be Continued…

and I just groaned because I was ready for it to be over 100p ago and now there’s going to be another book or books. I just don’t find Judith’s motivation interesting enough or her character compelling enough for me to want her to succeed or investigate any future books.

5/10

Book #33 of 2016

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3 responses to “Review: Maestra by L.S. Hilton

  1. Kate W says:

    I missed out on an ARC of this book and now, after reading your review, I’m not sorry!

    And ‘to be continued…’ Seriously? We’re not ten years old!

  2. […] Maestra by L.S. Hilton. Hmm lol. It’s interesting that the review that garnered the most page hits was for a book that I did……not like very much. This book was hyped a lot but I found it ultimately disappointing with an irritating main character (at one point I was actually itching for her to be caught) and then the annoying realisation that it was the first in a series and if I wanted to find out more, I’d have to read more books. Yeah, I’m not going to be reading any more books. […]

  3. […] Maestra by L.S. Hilton. Hmm lol. It’s interesting that the review that garnered the most page hits was for a book that I did……not like very much. This book was hyped a lot but I found it ultimately disappointing with an irritating main character (at one point I was actually itching for her to be caught) and then the annoying realisation that it was the first in a series and if I wanted to find out more, I’d have to read more books. Yeah, I’m not going to be reading any more books. […]

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