Ambition can be deadly... A sizzling thriller set behind the scenes of a glamorous TV soap, from a Sunday Times bestselling author. Falcon Bay is the UK's favorite TV soap, beamed to millions three days a week from its beautiful location in the Channel Islands. But the show has a new owner, and ratings are falling. The cast and crew used to be 'one big family,' but now they've turned against each other in the battle to impress their new boss and survive the downturn. Writer Farrah, lead actor Catherine, and producer Amanda are the driven, ambitious women who keep the show on the road. But Farrah is losing episodes to her less experienced male rival, Catherine is terrified of the public falling out of love with her, and Amanda's evil husband Jake, vice president of the network, is plotting to get his wife kicked off the show. Can these women team up to bring down their rivals? Only if they are prepared for a battle of the sexes—where they'll need to be as ruthless as the men to come out on top..
In terms of authors who have done their research, you'd be hardpressed to find someone better qualified than Melanie Blake - as an agent in the Music and Entertainment industry, she has managed stars in all of the major TV soaps, and writes weekly columns for The Sunday People and the Mirror Online, in addition to having published her first hugely successful book, Thunder Girls - which was an Amazon No1 Bestseller, and has since been turned into a play.
So, there's no doubt that Melanie Blake knows her stuff, but does that convert into a good read?
In short - yes. I picked this up on a Sunday morning, and I finished it by Sunday lunchtime - with only brief breaks for tea in between, although had I really wished to get myself into the minds of these characters, I may have been better quaffing champagne and snorting coke!
In these miserable times, there is nothing we need more than escapism, and Ruthless Women provides that in spades.
After introducing the readers to her characters, Blake throws in the twists throughout the first half - setting things up for the later half and ensuring that the reader maintains gripped by sharp talking women and steamy sex scenes.
And then the second half arrives, and like a sharp hair pull from Alexis Carrington Colby, tugs the reader into an explosive ride of scandal, twists and secrets.
It's breathtaking, ridiculous, and utterly wonderful. With The Thunder Girls and now Ruthless Women, melanie Blake seems to be the worthy successor to the blockbuster writers of the '80s like Shirley Conran - authors who knew how to write page-turning, crowd pleasing books that may have seemed to the public like trashy reads, but instead were filled with women more powerful and clever than you were likely to read elsewhere - ahead of their time and spreading messages of feminist empowerment and female independence. That is what Blake does so well in Ruthless Women - yes, it is the perfect beach read for when we can all go on holiday again, but, unlike many beach reads, you won't want to leave this one in the hotel room - you'll be stuffing it in your suitcase knowing full well that you'll be picking it up again in the future.
If there was a third Collins sister - who combined the camp soapstar divaness of Joan with the blockbuster writing prowesss of Jackie - it'd be Melanie Blake.
I haven't had as much fun reading a book in a very, very long time.
At a moment when powerful men everywhere are being exposed for their crimes, Celia receives an email out of the blue, accusing her ex-husband of committing a rape decades before. She feels compelled to investigate, but where should she even begin? Together with Carly, her millennial colleague at the Harland Herald, she revisits a past she thought she’d left behind, full of partying, drugs and free love. At the time, she’d thought she was at the centre of something - she’d been swept up in the maelstrom of the summer of love - but did she miss something rotten at its core?
Carole Hayman is a Writer, Producer & Presenter. She was born in Kent, which has featured in her trilogy of novels, “The Warfleet Chronicles”. Her early work was with The Bristol Old Vic, The Royal Court and Traverse Theatres, from which she went on to become a founder member and first woman director of the Joint Stock Theatre Company. She was an Associate Director of The Royal Court Theatre, for which she directed many World Premieres.
Carole writes for radio, television and film. On radio, she is well known as writer of the Radio 4 hit series “Ladies of Letters” with Prunella Scales and Patricia Routledge, which has run for twelve series on radio and three series on ITV . She has written many other TV series and films, including The Refuge with Sue Townsend for Channel Four and Rides, the first ever all female TV drama, for BBC1.
The #metoo movement has been the subject of a huge amount of coverage over the last few years, and rightly so - it's a timely and massively important wave of recognition towards the massive power balances that exist in many, many industries - but specifically within the entertainment industry. This is where 'Legacy' takes place, with lead character Celia forced to examine her past as the former wife of a rock star, and to try and piece together hazy memories from a decadent past.
Trying to uncover the truth behind allegations of rape, Celia and her young colleague Carly are forced to uncover shocking truths about the past - and Hayman also uses this as an opportunity to explore the differences in attitudes and experiences between the two - making for a listen that is honest, intriguing, and ultimately, hugely gripping.
This is aided in no small part to Zara Ramm's excellent narration, who brings the characters to life, and embues the slightly unreliable narrator with drive - Celia makes mistakes, but the reader is inevitably on her side.
The whole conceit of the unreliable narrator works wonderfully well here too - with Celia not untrustworthy, more a victim of a past that involved raucous parties and overindulging on intoxicants. Time and time again we have seen women in rape cases disbelieved due to them daring to have a drink or a good time, and this is explored with openness and, completely understandably, a fair degree of rage.
Given the prominence of #metoo in the media, this book could be called 'of the moment', but in truth it's only in recent years that the truth around women being systematically abused and disbelieved has come to true light - so this book isn't 'of the moment' at all - the moment has been happening for hundreds of years, and it's time that more light is shone on it in as many ways as possible. With Legacy - it just so happens that you get a gripping listen at the same time.
Many thanks to MidasPR for the copy of this audible Original book.