When we first started our ‘Readers’ book club, I was delighted with the opening choice of novel – Maestra, by L. S. Hilton, was a fantastically sexy thriller, which played with the idea of the traditional heroine figure and lead the reader on a fast-paced tour of Europe, filled with intrigue, blackmail and murder. This April (today in fact), we are once again treated to a further instalment of this world in the form of Maestra’s sequel – Domina.
When an email arrived in my inbox three weeks ago, from the lovely Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre publishing, I was pleasantly surprised that I had been selected as a reviewer, and (of course) jumped at the opportunity to find out what Judith had been up to since I last read about her adventures! With life going the way it has over the past couple of weeks, it was also a welcome escape from the ‘every day’ mundane, which I’m still currently struggling with.
Like its predecessor, the book begins with a brief prologue, although this time, it is more like a chapter out of sync, rather than a complete excerpt from further in the story. Once again, that delightful well known swear word was present, and I still couldn’t help but cringe, but I’m used to Judith’s style now, so I expected no less!
I was immediately grabbed by the opening – what else could have happened to have suddenly plunged Judith back into the web of deceit and murder that she had escaped at the end of Maestra? The rest of the novel follows Judith, under the new alias of Elizabeth Teerlinc, as she changes from successful gallery owner, to girl on the run, to sexy blackmailer, until finally being caught in a trap… or is she? The wonderful descriptions, not only of fantastic European destinations, but of all the various artwork has sparked a new interest in me – I may even visit a gallery and actually enjoy myself for once!
I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed this second book in the Judith Rashleigh trilogy and, regardless of today’s deadline for this review, I just couldn’t put it down. The continual twists and turns of the plot often caught me unaware and usually just when I thought I’d guessed what happens next – a feeling I’m sure was mirrored in Judith’s character! At first, the storyline gradually unfurls, and you could almost get away with reading Domina as a standalone novel but, as the story progresses, it becomes clear that plot points from Maestra are still key in the situations Judith now finds herself in. I don’t see this as a negative though, I can’t imagine anyone reading Maestra and not wanting to find out more!
My one criticism is with the ending – which leaves you teetering on a well-placed cliff-hanger. I understand it is necessary, but I’m not sure how long I can wait before finding out Judith’s fate! Had we been examining this for book club, Domina would have achieved another high ranking 4.5/5, with the promise of a 5 if I hadn’t been left hanging right at the last moment. I would definitely recommended this book to anyone looking to escape for a wee while, I may even have piqued Lesley’s interest, and she wasn’t even a particular fan of Judith’s debut.
I’m hopeful that I won’t be waiting too long for the eventual conclusion of this series, and I’ve not forgotten the whispers of a film adaptation in the not too distant future!