Lisa Hilton, a British writer of history books, historical fiction, articles for magazines and newspapers including Vogue and The Sunday Telegraph, librettist and the British author amassed a vast and varied fan base when Maestra (Bloomsbury, 2016), the first part of her sexy, sinuous trilogy, was published. It tells the story of Judith Rashleigh, an ambitious Londoner and auction house employee who embarks on a killing spree after landing herself in a high-stakes art scandal. It won little love from critics, but was devoured by readers—and swiftly optioned for a movie adaptation too.
The Oxford graduate has previously published historical non-fiction, which, she says, offered enough disturbing sex and violence to inspire Maestra. “The novel was an extension of what I was doing. I’ve always been interested in transgressive women—those who were not bound by the role their gender assigned them,” says the 42-year-old.
“I wanted to write about a millennial woman, a product of the Tinder generation. I wanted to write about sex in a way that was modern and realistic. Domina (Bloomsbury; out now), the follow-up to Maestra, is a similarly enslaving fix of gripping twists, glamorous fashion, art history and dangerous sex with a terribly high body count.
For readers grudging the year-long wait for the concluding part of the trilogy, Hilton offers some of her favorite reads from the genre to tide you over.
LS Hilton’s picks of racy reads:
FOR THE FANTASY NERD
“Dracula by Bram Stoker is a very erotic novel, even though the eroticism itself is very subtextual. Not many people see that.”
FOR THE HIGHBROW LOVER
“In Praise of the Stepmother by Peruvian Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa is wickedly clever. It’s about a sexually open couple whose fantasies take them to the very edge of morality.”
FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED PRUDE
“Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos has no sex, but it’s fantastically erotic. It’s about the dynamics of power between couples of ex-lovers. It’s also been made into a gripping film with John Malkovich and Glenn Close.”
FOR THE COMPULSIVE FETISHIST
“Story of O by Pauline Réage is a classic. It explores the psychology of BDSM in a really interesting way. It is also extremely elegant.”
FOR THE GENDER BENDER
“Claudine at School by Colette is a novel about a French schoolgirl who plays, very successfully, with the notion of conventional gender roles.”
FOR THE HELPLESS ROMANTIC
“The Butcher by Alina Reyes revolves around the love affair between a teenaged virgin and an ugly middle-aged man who works at a butcher shop.”
FOR THE HISTORY NUT
“The White Queen by Philippa Gregory is an obvious one. When I was a teenager, I used to read Gregory’s historical novels and enjoy all the juicy, dirty bits.”