In the same way I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man reading any of the ‘Shades of Grey’ books on the tube, train, beach, or in fact anywhere at all, I felt a little uncomfortable reading L.S.Hilton’s ‘Maestra’ on an easyJet flight last week. The woman beside me was Spanish, I’m sure (I hope), and she seemed engrossed with her iPod, magazines and bacon roll, so I’m pretty certain she didn’t notice me reading all the straddling, sucking, stroking, swirling, purring, gaping, wriggling and ‘sliding easily into me’ scenes with all those ‘wrists cuffed together’ and all that heat, juice and ‘luscious belly’ stuff on the velvet chaise. But you never know.
Judith Rashleigh, the narrator, is a junior assistant at a London auction house. That’s where my interest began, because I am interested in reading about art – but that’s also where my interest quickly ended. After bumping into an old friend on the tube, Judith suddenly starts working nights in a champagne-hostess bar. By page 47, after one of those straddling, gaping, sucking sessions, she states that this is ‘the rush, for me.’ It’s not merely the purity of sheer carnal pleasure, but being made to feel so free and untouchable whilst ‘being splayed and screwed by a stranger’. She soon ends up in the French Riviera, surrounded by billionaire playboys and eventually the mafia. There’s loads more graphic ‘luscious belly’ stuff along the way, but it simply irritates and distracts from an already incoherent plot – and the slurping sex is very repetitive, just like all the designer brand names of clothes that are put on and then swiftly taken off.
I didn’t enjoy the much-hyped and over-hyped ‘Maestra’, I’m afraid. I don’t really understand why it is being pitched as ‘the most shocking thriller you’ll read this year’ – because if it is, then it’s a very sad year for thrillers. It is not a thriller. It is a tedious romp. And shocking? Why? Because of the sex? Give me a break.