Recently I picked up and could not put down L.S. Hilton’s Maestra. I must recommend it to my readers. Judith Rashleith works at a posh art auction house in London. Although she has an advanced degree and has done the art instruction tour in Italy, she is treated like a janitorial assistant by the Oxbridge educated who run the British art establishment. Despite Judith’s efforts to improve her accent and even walk correctly she never quite fits in and is given crummy assignments, including visiting the home of the owner of an art piece who also happens to be a rapist.
Judith is at times sarcastic and is always witty and wields her words like a sword. Later we learn she’s physically tough and willing to use her beauty to manipulate her foes.
To supplement her meager, slightly-above-minimum wage income, and while attempting to make ends meet in one of the most expensive cities in the world, Judith takes a gig at a dreary nightclub that specializes in selling cheap champagne at expensive prices for the pleasure of lonely older men to talk to lovely young women. Just talk. One of the dreary customers is loathsomely fat and boring but takes a shine to Judith and every Friday night leaves her a tip of several hundred pounds just so she can listen to his tedious life story.
The art house sends Judith to evaluate a painting which it intends to offer for auction. Using her experience and expertise, Judith concludes that the painting, while nice, is not by the proported painter and will not nearly bring as much money at auction as the house had hoped. Unfortunately for Judith this is not what her boss wanted to hear. When she tried to surreptitiously look further into the authenticity of the painting she gets caught and promptly fired.
Judith grabs what cash she can and flees, eventually winding up on a very wealthy guy’s yacht, hiding out from any link to her and the fat man’s death. While traveling in Italy, Judith learns that the painting she believes to be a fake is being offered by her former art house for an extravagant sum, far beyond its actual worth.
Judith arranges to meet the local agent for the sale by representing herself as still employed by the art house in London. The novel’s shocking turning point is what she does to the seller of the fake painting when they get together in Rome.
The death of the art dealer and the theft of the painting puts Judith on the run. Her evasion attempts are brilliant and along the way she puts in a couple of appearances at expensive secret sex orgies. I thought the second big sex scene was perhaps unnecessary but later in another plot twist Hilton ties that romp in nicely with the eventual capture of Judith by an Italian policeman who had coupled with her.
The ending is again quite a twist and totally unexpected, so much so that the reader may come away from the book not liking Judith. She can certainly be ruthless. I’ll leave that decision for the readers.
Still I see similarities between Judith and Kristen. Both are on the fringes of society due to their backgrounds and miserable childhoods. Both strive to excel and surpass all those who believe themselves to be superior. They accomplish more than their enemies ever expected. Neither is afraid of violence–Kristen when necessary–Judith when she wants to. And both are very sexy and beautiful. What more could one want in a book?
To read more about Steve E. Clark and his best seller "Justice is for the Lonely" go to www.KristenKerryNovelsofSuspense.com Keep your eye open for the next book in the series "Justice is for the Deserving."
You can also find Steve E. Clark at www.ClarkMitchell.com