Maestra claims to be the most shocking thriller we will read this year. Certainly, the author L.S. Hilton is seeking that title by combining a killer thriller with woman-centered erotica, but comparing it to Fifty Shades of Grey would be an insult. There is nothing puerile about Judith, the narrator and hero/villain of this story

In fact, Judith is one tough cookie. Through sheer will, she pulled herself out of the low rent and trouble life she was born into, going to school to become an expert in art. She has succeeded, and has a job at one of the top tier auction houses. The world of art, though, is one where connections and class matter more than competence and diligence.

It is diligence that gets Judith fired from her job. She’s already making ends meet by drinking with men at a club and decides to go a step of two further, just to carry her until the can land a new job. However, when a trip with a sugar daddy goes awry, she finds an unknown taste and capacity for criminality. Adventures ensue.

I found myself liking Maestra much more than I expected after the Prologue. That made me think I was going to get something on the order of 50 Shades of Argle-Bargle, but I think it was just a warning to readers that Hilton was going to be very graphic about sex and her character liked sex a bit rough. Hilton (and Judith)  are British and the British are more comfortable with a word that for Americans is the most vulgar term for female genitalia. It is used frequently, but not to shock, simply to communicate what Judith is doing at the moment.

3pawsI was surprised by how much I liked Maestra after I passed the Prologue. The sex is graphic, but it is also part of the story. Judith is never going to  a feminist icon. She uses her body as a weapon, a trap,  a temptation. But why quibble about sex when she’s off killing people? She’s quite ruthless and I kind of found myself cheering her on, though not always. The story is eventful, travels around quite a bit of Europe and is suspenseful. It’s not great literature, but it is a great thriller. And don’t insult it with comparisons to 50 Shades of Anything.

I received my copy through a free giveaway at Goodreads.