Ruthless Women by Melanie Blake

I requested to read a copy of Ruthless Women via Netgalley. My thanks to the publishers for granting my request. This review forms my honest opinion.

Blurb

On a beautiful private island off the coast of the UK, the cast and crew of glamorous TV show Falcon Bay are at breaking point.

Ratings are falling, and their new boss is inventing ever more dramatic – and impossible – storylines to get Falcon Bay back into the number 1 slot.

Director Farrah, lead actress Catherine and producer Amanda are the passionate, ambitious women holding the show together. With so much at stake, they will stop at nothing to stay in the jobs they love and on the island they call home.

Can these women team up to bring down their rivals? Or will scandal, betrayal and ambition tear them apart?

Review

I have zero shame in saying that I was raised reading bonkbusters, couple this with my obsession with Knots Landing in the early 00’s when it was reshown on Sky whilst I was sofa bound with glandular fever – this was one book I was really looking forward to.

On the face of it, this book had everything I was looking for from the genre – but halfway in, I was feeling a little disappointed. It just felt very slow. It felt to take a long time to introduce the characters and set the scene and this dominated the narrative so that it felt that not a lot else was really happening. It didn’t feel to be grabbing me, and I was gutted as I had such high expectations.

Thankfully, a gear shifted into turbo around the halfway mark and everything ramped up to 100 miles an hour and the drama suddenly went off the rails in a rather deliciously bonkers way. Although there were no shoulders pads or perms, it felt a wonderful tribute to the crazy drama seen in Dallas et al.

The female characters are realistically flawed women working within a ‘man’s world’. They are friends, but this friendship is tested throughout the course of the novel in different ways. In many ways this was a far more accurate depiction (with the expected sprinkling of drama) of women than in novels I’ve previously read within this genre in the past. No one woman is out and out vilified, instead their actions are a reaction to the circumstances they have found or find themselves in. Even when their actions are drastic it doesn’t feel out of character and there is the ability to understand why they’ve done what they’ve done. They are on many levels relatable women, even if we can only aspire to the lives they lead and circles they move in.

I found it interesting that whilst the women were far more three dimensional than the predecessors within the genre, the male characters were much less so and with the potential for a sequel focused on the men, it would be interesting for them to be explored on a deeper level as that was missing in this novel.

There was so much to enjoy here. Strong women, glamour and drama set within an intriguing world in which many of us will never get to experience. That current, relevant affairs such as the Me Too movement and sexism within the industry were strongly addressed was refreshing within the genre. Above all though, Ruthless Women – once I got into it – was tremendous fun to read.

The author is being touted as the new Queen of the Bonkbuster, and while I do feel that Ruthless Women fell short of my own expectations on the whole, the last half had me so hooked that I would definitely read another novel by Melanie Blake. In my opinion, whilst she may not be quite the Queen just yet, she’s definitely in the line of succession.

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