If there’s one book you’re going to read in 2021, make it Ruthless Women. Utterly addictive from its opening chapters, the technically fictional novel (which draws on author Melanie Blake’s real-life experience as an agent to the stars) is unpredictable, unputdownable and unique to anything I have ever read.
It's so true-to-life in fact, that queen of the Coronation Street cobbles Beverley Callard said upon reading an advance copy: "At times,I felt sick reading, as it was like someone had shadowed my life on set, but I still couldn't put it down".
I always like starting the year out with a book I’ll still remember when we’re (hopefully) all singing Auld Lang Syne together come December 31st. Blake’s promises of drama, glamour, sex and scandal was enough to draw me in and boy, am I happy that she did.
Gone are the shackles she may have felt around her whilst writing her debut The Thunder Girls; this is full pedal to the metal from the start, with the book taking ahold of you with force from the very start, refusing to let-up until its final page.
A roster of rogues all working on what was once the world’s biggest syndicated soap opera are introduced, each with their own aims and ambitions, as well as outrageous personalities and high sex drives that will make even the most seasoned of readers blush.
Though the men may be devious and fall back on sexist tropes that still blatantly exist within the industry, you soon learn that the women have adapted to survive, and will live up to the “ruthless” description that they’ve been given on the glossy cover.
Never again will I say something is “unrealistic” when watching Emmerdale, Corrie, EastEnders and Hollyoaks!
Whilst working on a soap opera sounds like a lot of fun for anybody who’s interested in the world of showbiz, the truths scattered through the storytelling on the pages of Ruthless Women is enough to give anybody pause for thought about ever getting involved! Still, they make for some fantastic and exhilarating scenes that feel as though they’re a part of a soap themselves, splitting your sides once you’ve picked your jaw up from the floor.
Not all of the drama will give you a laugh, however. There are some genuinely emotional and heart-wrenching moments woven within the story, that Blake manages to tell without sensationalisation. Instead, she uses poise and a lot of thought to ensure that she stays within the boundaries of the murkier topics involved, whilst still lending importance to the serious nature of each.
Saying too much more about what to expect from the book would spoil the plentiful surprises; just know that you’re going to have a whale of a time when reading it.
I’ve read a lot of books in my 28 years! It’s clearer to me than ever when an author has put their heart and soul into a project. This is exactly what Blake has achieved and for that reason alone, this book deserves all the success in the world.
Ruthless Women is published on February 18th, 2021.