Having so enjoyed Melanie Blake’s debut The Thunder Girls, my review of which you’ll find here, I was delighted to be invited by Bei at Midas RP to review Ruthless Women and to participate in the launch celebrations.
Ruthless Women is published by Head of Zeus today, 18th February 2021, and is available for purchase here.
Ambition can be deadly
Broadcast to millions from its picturesque location off the coast of Jersey, Falcon Bay was once the world’s most popular soap opera. But with ratings at an all-time low, a new network owner, the malevolent Madeline Kane, arrives on the private island determined to do whatever it takes to get the show back to the number 1 slot.
Director Farrah, leading lady Catherine and producer Amanda are the driven, ambitious women who’ve been trying to hold the production together. But thanks to their handsome but corrupt boss, Jake Monroe, Farrah is losing episodes to male colleagues, seventy-year-old Catherine is terrified of losing the public’s adoration, and Amanda is battling her desire for a forbidden affair with a handsome new employee.
As Madeline’s pressure to revive the show intensifies, she unleashes a true battle of the sexes where the women will do anything to stay in the jobs they love and on the island they call home. Can they team up to bring down their rivals? Or will jealousy, betrayal and revenge rip their friendships apart? As the story reaches its shocking climax, one thing is for certain: only the most ruthless woman will survive…
Everyone’s talking about Ruthless Women…
My Review of Ruthless Women
Falcon Bay television drama needs a boost!
I have to be completely honest and say that initially I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy Ruthless Women because I don’t watch television soap operas (or continuing dramas as I now understand they are called) and it seemed to take a while for me to work out exactly who was who and what their relationships were. I definitely needed the list of players and the beginning – and ‘players’ is definitely the right term in all its meanings for many of them! What a cast! However, it didn’t take long before I was entirely caught up in this hugely entertaining narrative. Melanie Blake writes about show business and the Machiavellian machinations therein with absolute authority. At times I felt a bit like a rabbit in the headlights, reading with my mouth open and a look of total surprise on my face because, although I couldn’t believe people behaved quite as they do in Ruthless Women, the author presents the narrative with such command and knowledge that I knew I was finding out about a world totally alien to me. It was utterly fascinating and curiously addictive. I do also have to say that I found Melanie Blake’s writing style in Ruthless Women more sophisticated than her first book, The Thunder Girls, too, as if she has been perfecting her craft. The descriptions particularly were vivid and clear.
Aside from being a sexy romp in the cut throat world of television ratings where personal and professional relationships whirl and settle in mesmerising patterns, Ruthless Women is actually a somewhat disturbing insight into the production world. I actually learnt quite a lot about what goes into a programme, both on and off the set through the presentation of Falcon Bay. Indeed, reading Ruthless Women convinced me completely that I’d never want to be part of such an environment.
Indeed, I felt quite sorry for many of the characters. So many in Ruthless Women have lost sight of their true identity or their honest selves and are having to exist in a cut throat world that they made me feel quite sad in spite of the acerbic humour and sexy romps they feature in. Ruthless Women illustrated that those desperate for their 15 minutes of fame might be better being careful what they wish for! That said, I thoroughly appreciated the manner in which so many of these ruthless women got the better of the men in their world so that Ruthless Women might have much of the action predicated on sexual relationships and female rivalry, but it is surprisingly feminist.
There are also some weighty themes between the pages of Ruthless Women. With addiction, mental health, stress, attraction and love among them, I can’t uncover them all as it would spoil the plot but I was very much taken by surprise as some were finally revealed. This added a depth that I hadn’t anticipated and I very much appreciated.
Ruthless Women is not my usual genre. After what felt like a slightly slow start, Ruthless Women became a cracking, escapist read with a dramatic, heart stopping finale that I thought was brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed into a very different world. Whilst holidays seem very far away, I think Melanie Blake’s Ruthless Women could be just the escapism so many are seeking. Why not dive in – but take care!
About Melanie Blake
As one as the UK’s most successful agents, managers and publicists for music stars and TV actresses, Melanie Blake has represented some of the most famous faces on British television and international screens.
Where her debut novel, the No. 1 bestseller The Thunder Girls, was inspired by the early years of her career spent working in the music industry, her follow up novel Ruthless Women is heavily influenced by the last 15 years Melanie has spent representing more female actresses than any other agent in her genre. Her clients have included Patsy Kensit, Beverley Callard, Michelle Collins, Stephanie Beacham, Emily Lloyd, Denise Welch, Jennie McAlpine, Claire King, Gaynor Faye, Laila Morse, Danniella Westbrook, Sherrie Hewson, Amanda Barrie, Gillian Taylforth and Nadia Sawalha, to name just a few. Nicknamed The Queen Of Soaps, there is no one better placed to write a novel based around a continuing drama and its leading ladies.
As one of the UK’s most successful female entrepreneurs, over the years Melanie has had two careers at the top tier of the entertainment industry. Her first 10 years were as a music manager with a roster of award-winning artists who sold over 100 million records and the second decade as one of the UK’s leading acting agents representing some of the most famous faces on British television. The Thunder Girls is inspired by her time in the music business and Ruthless Women which is out in 2021 is inspired by her years in the world of soap opera and drama. Her own management company, which has covered both genres, has turned over more than 30 million.
With no formal education herself, Melanie is a true champion for working class women who are so often overlooked in our society. The Thunder Girls is a celebration of women from diverse demographics and all the lead characters in the novel are over 40 and working class. As well as having written the book, Melanie has penned The Thunder Girls the play which embarks on a nationwide tour in 2021. Melanie Blake might just be the world’s biggest Jackie Collins fan. She first read Rock Star aged 9, after smuggling the copy out of the library by telling the librarian it was for her mum! Melanie was dazzled by Jackie Collin’s world where women clawed themselves from poverty into glamorous, moneyed lives. In Jackie Collins’ novels, women were bosses and winners who achieved everything they wanted and it was these novels that inspired Melanie to become her own boss and a lady entrepreneur. In 2017 Melanie’s connection with Jackie Collins came full circle, when after Jackie’s sad death she bought five pieces of Jackie’s jewellery at auction – two rings and three necklaces inlayed with morganite, citrines and diamonds – which she wears every day.
For the first time, Melanie reveals her biggest secret – that her career actually started as an ‘extra’ on the set of Coronation Street and EastEnders. It was there she began clawing her way from the bottom of the ‘Soap Opera ladder’ to the very top, going on to represent the leading ladies of the very shows she was hired to stand in the background of. It’s a one in a million story, by a uniquely determined woman. From extra to celebrity agent, she’s seen it all and that journey enabled her to write ‘the must read book of 2021’. During the promotion, she’ll be sharing more of her own unique journey as well as some of the celebrity bombshells, which inspired her to write her new novel.
You can find out more by following Melanie on Instagram and Twitter @MelanieBlakeUK
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