Review: Ruthless Women by Melanie Blake

Based on the Island of Jersey, the popular Falcon Bay, a long time running continuing drama (no one apparently likes the word soap opera now) is in trouble. Viewers are beginning to switch off and the production team are in need of a new idea quick. If they don’t come up with something quick their less then P.C Head of Drama, Jake Monroe, will happily fire anyone who gets in the way of his reputation faulting.

Jake has, he believes, worked extremely hard to get to the top, and therefore he will stop at nothing to make sure he remains there, and absolutely no one is safe. Even Amanda, his long suffering partner both at work and home has been under the firing line since the new owners took over. Worse still, it appears he may be enjoying her discomfort.

To make matters worse, a recent decision to change from joyful, loving storylines to hard-hitting, gritty ones had backfired and rather than taking the brunt of the backlash himself, Jake hit out at others.

It seems people didn’t enjoy, and quite rightly so, the introduction of a sexual predator into their warm-hearted drama and viewing has begun to dwindle away. All these decisions took place while Amanda was on maturity leave so while she really could not be blames for these poor choices, Jake threw her under the bus anyway, demoting her from her position as joint executive in charge of the production.

A decision not welcomed by many. While Jake is rough around the edges and speaks without thinking, Amanda was always far more diplomatic and knew how to handle things in times of crisis but it seems the owners wanted one person in charge; one person they could hold responsible, and so without any discussion whatsoever Jake nominated himself to be that person.

Worst still, he opts not tell Amanda until she returns to work instead of approaching the subject on a one-to-one away from prying eyes. Instead, he decides the best way to handle this situation is to tell her in front of everyone, reducing her to a blubbering mess, when she realises he is everyone relegating her from a private office to the open-plan one shared by everyone.

Amanda is not alone in the unfair treatment she is receiving however. It seems that Jake and his cronies have an issue with female empowerment and would prefer for it to remain a male-elite club at the top even though the new owner is an extremely powerful female who doesn’t appear to worry about busting anyone’s balls should the need arise.

Farrah, a very talented actress, who for years, played the daughter of Falcon Bay’s most loved star, Catherine Belle, has decided to walk away from the limelight. After years in front of the camera she is now carving a new successful career out for herself behind the scenes.

Unfortunately, her talent as a director is often overlooked. Overlooked not because she lacks ability but because of whom she is; a woman trying to make it in what is still very much a man’s world especially at C. I. TV.

“What she did hate with a passion was the aura of entitlement, the privileged position,

the fact that everything landed in his lap without him even trying.”

She knows she is just as good, if not better than some of the others, the crew and actors are all aware of it as well, but in order to stay in favour with boss man Jake they all toe the line, making Farrah feel worthless just for being female. Add to this the sexually harassing texts she is receiving from her number one nemesis, Aiden, the show’s top male director, and you can see why she is feeling sensitive towards her standing on set.

If the prejudice stopped here, people would clearly say that these two women were being sensitive. One after all, is just back from having a baby where hormones are all over the place and emotions are bound to be running higher than normal. The other being a younger woman still learning her trade and therefore perhaps she still needs to allow more time to nurture her talent.

However, that is not how it seems to work at C.I.TV.

Helen, Head of Casting and acting Press Officer, has been with the team since day one so knows a thing or two not just about the people who would be right for the show but also what the show needs to succeed. However, her voice and thoughts are often belittled in front of others as having not validation, being told that just because she finds the talent she doesn’t know how to nurture and grow it and to leave the creative aspect to those that do. Ironically, it is often her ideas that Jake adopts for his own gain.

Add to this the annoyance Jake feels for every female that seems to open their mouth either on set or behind the scenes and it is clear to all those around Falcon Bay that in order to succeed you need to ideally be male.

The problems don’t seem to stop with Jake however. For the powerful women behind the soap opera, even their new all-powerful boss also a woman, seems to have fallen in line with the male chauvinist ways of the show and it seems she is willing to promise anything to remain at the top.

“You have my word that I will not stop until the dead wood has been shaved off

the wonderful oak tree that is Falcon Bay.”

 But, and there is a big but coming. Before we all get too caught up in the unfairness of this still very male dominated world, we need to realise that the girls of C.I.TV are not shy or retiring. In fact, they are a force to be reckoned with and as soon as the men on this show realise that, they will also need to come to terms with the fact that their reign is all but over.

Together Amanda, Farrah and Helen along with their leading lady, Catherine Belle and her agent Sheena McQueen are about to turn the tables. They are about to show the world that powerful women are unstoppable, especially when a group as ruthless as this bunch are working together.

“… being nice all the time didn’t get you the top job  Being ruthless paid off.”

It sparks the question: How far you would be prepared to go in order to succeed?

Ruthless Women is the latest novel by Melanie Blake. Set to shock and filled to the brim with Scandal this could be the book of 2021

My Thoughts on Ruthless Women

When I was approached to read Ruthless Women I need to be honest and say I did think about turning it down.  I imagined it to be similar to a now very famous set of books about wealthy business man Christian Grey and his erotic relationship with college graduate Anastasia Steele. I will admit, I read the books, who hasn’t but it is not really a genre that appeals to me (no I am not prudish, I just prefer different storylines). However, in 2020 I promised myself I would read more widely, explore different genres and open my mind to different ways of writing – and I have to say I am glad I did.

On the surface this book is very racy and you may well find yourself blushing when you read certain chapters. Melanie Blake does not hold back and some of the scenes will shock even those that have read many erotica novels I am sure. However, this novel is much more than that.

It highlights what it is really like, even now, for females desperate to succeed in what has long been thought of as a male dominated industry.

Melanie does an amazing job of creating a story that captures your interest on one level that is purely for entertainment purposes, and I guarantee this book will unfold for you just like a soap opera. However, she takes it a step further. It is clear for all those reading this that the aim was not just to write the next big, sensation bestseller that will rival other books in this genre but to also highlight that there are still things that need to be changed in the entertainment industry.

Covering topics like unfair advantages for males, sexual harassment (looking at the #MeToo Movement) and substance abuse, the themes explored make for an extremely gritty read. Melanie may use her skills as both a writer and an industry inside to glamorise aspects of this world but she also reveals a dark side to the world of TV that deceptively still continues today.

The storyline intensifies with the battle of the sexes and it quickly becomes an addictive page-turner that you will struggle to put down. Her characters develop along with the plot line and even those most shallow, self-absorbed at the start unravel as the plot thickens so that by the end it is difficult for you as the reader, not to feel something for all involved.

It is a story that packed full of sexual-tension, glamour and suspense that will keep you up all night reading. Once you warm to the storyline you really will struggle to close the cover of this one.

For anyone determined not to pick up a copy because it has been described as erotica, a genre many see as trashy, please don’t. If I hadn’t stepped back and taken a long hard look at how narrow by reading pile had become, I too would have missed out on this fantastic novel.

If for no other reason, you need to read Ruthless Women just to feel more empowered as a female. It is not about using your sexuality to get ahead; this is a story of how to protect yourself from losing out. It should also serve as a reminder that females are entitled to be just as ambitious today as their male counterparts and regardless of how often we feel rejected or overlooked for roles we really want, in order to succeed we need to move past that and work on becoming the strong, ruthless women we all are deep down.

The Thunder Girls is the first novel by Melanie Blake

The first novel by Melanie Blake. Buy your copy here.

Have you read Ruthless Women? Have you read Melanie’s first novel, The Thunder Girls? If so, I would love to know your thoughts on it.

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Who is Melanie Blake?

Melanie Blake is one of the UK’s most successful agents, managers and publicists for soap actresses, and has represented some of the most famous faces of British television. 

Ruthless Women is heavily influenced by the last 15 years spent representing more actresses than any other agent in her genre. Her clients have included Amanda Barrie, Patsy Kensit, Daniella Westbrook, Beverley Callard, Michelle Collins and Gillian Taylforth, to name just a few. 

Melanie Blake, agent, manager and publicist to the soap stars and now author. Ruthless Women is her second book after debut The Thunder Girls.

Melanie Blake

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Ruthless Women by Melanie Blake is the scandalous book of 2021. This is a book full of scandal and sexy stars to keep you gripped from beginning to end. Read the full review via @tbookjunkie

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