Excerpted from Ruthless Women, by Melanie Blake. Entangled Publishing, 2021. Reprinted with permission.
The door swung open and all eyes were on Jake Monroe as he strode into the room, ignored the packed table and silently walked towards the storyboard, which was on the wall just by the entrance. He stood frozen, staring at the scant words written there. With his muscular legs clad in tight jeans and his broad shoulders encased in a black leather jacket, he looked much younger than his sixty years. Jake’s presence had always been formidable, but having recently been promoted to controller of drama by the network’s new owners, whom nobody else in the room had yet met, he’d acquired an air of even greater untouchability and arrogance. He was at the very top of the food chain and he made sure everyone knew it.
After what felt like hours but was actually less than two minutes, he half turned towards the others. ‘Is this it?’ he asked, pointing at the board and meeting every person’s eyes one by one, sending shivers down their backs as his gravelly voice echoed around the pin-droppingly quiet space.
The last face his gaze rested on was a mousey woman – hair in a bun, thick glasses and a figure that unkind people would say was dumpy. Her chair was directly under the air conditioner and she was feeling the chill. Or maybe it was the ice emanating from her boss. Whatever the reason, she pulled a beige wrap around her shoulders. The sight of its tassels jiggling infuriated Jake.
‘What’s the matter with you?’ he growled.
The woman’s face went pale as she shuffled in her seat, causing the tassels to jiggle even faster. ‘I… I was cold… so I—’
Before she could finish stuttering her reply, he closed in on her and was now right next to her chair.
‘Damn right you are,’ he snarled, then looked over at the rest of the table. ‘And you’re not the only one.’
Earlier that day, Jake had sent a ‘Drop everything – emergency meeting’ summons to all writers, producers and casting execs, ordering them to gather in Room 6, and signing it off with the word ‘pronto’. Three hours later, here he was, surveying what were supposedly the country’s finest creative minds. But all Jake could see were blank stares and a shivering mouse in cashmere. He glanced out at the angry sea. Waves were thrashing the shoreline boulders. A flash storm was approaching, both outside in the real world and right here in the world of make-believe. Someone was going to drown.
Ruthless Women takes readers on a wild ride behind the scenes of beloved TV drama Falcon Bay, beamed globally to millions three days a week from its picturesque location in the Channel Islands. But even in this beautiful coastal spot, tensions swirl. Once one of the world’s most popular soap operas, but now with ratings and syndication at an all-time low, the production has been sold to an American businesswoman, beautiful and malevolent Madeline Kane, the new network owner who arrives on the tiny island just off Jersey, determined to do whatever it takes to get the show back to number one.
Writer Farrah, star Catherine and producer Amanda are the driven, ambitious women who keep the show on the road. But Farrah is losing episodes to the network’s lead 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 own wife kicked off the show.
As the dawn of a new era begins, cast and crew turn against each other with loyalty, decency, and trust, replaced by scandal, betrayal, and an outrageous ambition to survive.
In a true battle of the sexes, these women will do anything to stay on top. But can they team up to bring down their male rivals? Or will jealousy, betrayal and revenge tear their long-held friendships apart?
As the story reaches a climax so shocking readers will be talking about it for decades, one thing is certain: only the most ruthless woman will survive…