Steve Clark reviews Domina by L.S. Hilton
In Maestra we met Judith Rashleigh, a beautiful young woman who had overcome a tough childhood, a drunken mother, long gone father, dead sister, and the embarrassment of living on the dole. She managed to graduate from college with an art history degree and had secured what appeared to be a good job at an art gallery in London, although it pays very little, she seems to be advancing in life. In her spare time Judith frequents sex clubs. No kidding.
Judith discovered that a prominent landscape in the collection is a fake and that her boss is attempting to foist it off for an incredible sum of money. The supervisor figures out that Judith knows and fires her. Then Judith steals the painting and decides to sell it herself. To make ends meet and get out of the country she “escorts” an older man to the French Riviera. After he dies she moves on to Italy and makes arrangements under a fake name to sell the stolen, but worthless painting. One night in Rome the young woman we thought of as adventurous and sexy, turns killer. This was such a shocking twist that it made Maestra totally riveting.
In Domina, Judith only kills one person and he wasn’t particularly evil, just nosy. Hilton also cuts down on the sex scenes – only two— but they are riveting. I doubt a male author could get away with the level of detail from the female perspective as Hilton provides. Guys may want to read these to get tips on keeping their woman satisfied!
Maestra ended with Judith running barefoot down the early morning streets of Paris, intending to flee to Venice after having killed the cop who was on her trail. Domina begins with Judith owning an art gallery in Venice, living as Elizabeth Teerlinc and seeming content with life when she is approached by an agent of a Russian oligarch who made oodles of money in the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Russian wants Elizabeth(Judith) to come to one of his homes and evaluate his art collections.
Overwhelmed by the collection of originals, Elizabeth declines to do a formal evaluation and is summarily shown the door. On returning home she is approached by the Russian’s soon to be ex-wife. She knows Elizabeth’s true identity and threatens to expose her to the Italian police if she does not help her steal a painting from her husband to use as a “hostage” in an ongoing divorce. Another Russian agent demands that Judith return a painting she has never heard of.
Then Judith realizes that she may have accidently taken a Caravaggio drawing hidden in the lining of a carry-all when she fled a murder scene in book one and some very ruthless people are determined to get it back. Without knowing who ratted her out to the Russians, she must figure out how to get rid of the painting and cover her trail again. This quest sends her rollicking across Europe with forged passports, accompanied by a male prostitute she met in Paris, whom she uses to bait a gay gangster. All pretty racy stuff.
Unfortunately compared to the first book there is not the level of action, especially in the first eighty or nighty pages. But the pace does pick up and careens to a dramatic conclusion. Art lovers will enjoy Judith’s running commentary of the Russian’s incredible collection. But I almost put it aside.
All in all, it’s pretty good. If you didn’t read the first one you might be a bit lost, maybe more than a bit lost. If you read Maestra I would give this a B+. It ends with Judith in even bigger trouble and fans of this series will be eagerly awaiting the third book to see how she can possibly escape the clutches of the Italian art police.
Steve E Clark as seen in the New York Times is Author of Justice Is for the Lonely and Justice Is for the Deserving, Kristen Kerry Novels Of Suspense. You can purchase his books via SteveClarkAuthor.com/BuyBook or request it at your local book store. Want to know more about Steve Clark, read more reviews or speak directly with Steve? Learn more about Steve at SteveClarkAuthor.com