Guilty Women by Melanie Blake: A truly Machiavellian plot – book review –

Just four months after the shocking death of star actress Madeline Kane during live filming of Falcon Bay, the world’s most glamorous TV soap opera, the long-running blockbuster is back on track and the cameras are ready to roll.
Guilty Women by  Melanie BlakeGuilty Women by  Melanie Blake
Guilty Women by Melanie Blake

But the four powerful women who are now left to keep the show on the road – and the money coming in – share a deadly secret; Madeline’s horror death was not an accident and each one of them knows why she was killed.

Agent-turned-author Melanie Blake, who last year earned the title ‘new queen of the bonkbuster’ with Ruthless Women – a rip-roaring, raunchy romp featuring the deadly shenanigans of the ambitious female cast and crew of a glamorous TV show – is back with the second book of her sexy, sassy trilogy.

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And Guilty Women – easily read as a standalone – dishes up the same tasty menu of glitzy glamour, passion, greed, treachery, scandal and revenge as our formidable female quartet, each possessed of a vaulting ambition, prepares to do anything to save their TV show, even if that means murder.

For over forty years, the glamorous daytime TV soap Falcon Bay has kept audiences worldwide glued to their screens and brought wealth and fame to all those involved in its filming and production on St Augustine’s, a beautiful, private island just off the coast of Jersey.

But this ‘piece of nature’s heaven’ has also seen its share of scandals and drama, not least the show-stopping death of the soap’s co-star and owner, Madeline Kane, during a live Christmas episode of Falcon Bay.

Months later, the cast and crew are still reeling from the shocking events of that night, but four of those involved know more than the rest of the Falcon Bay team. Amanda King, Helen Gold, Farrah Adams and Sheena McQueen know exactly what happened and will do everything in their power to ensure word never gets out.

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Sheena McQueen, world famous agent to the show’s other co-star, Catherine Belle, is on constant alert. Her client, Catherine, an unnervingly unpredictable and ageing actress, is still haunted by Madeline’s death and needs to be regularly defused from letting off a ‘truth bomb’ that would blow apart their stories.

Meanwhile, executive producer Amanda King is fully aware that the money-making soap can be dangerous, both on-screen and off-screen, but hopes that they now have a new beginning with herself firmly in charge.

Also in on the dark truth is head of casting, Helen Gold, whose job is to ensure the true events behind the lurid headlines remain secret, and director and scriptwriter Farrah Adams, who prides herself on being totally professional, is intent on making sure the show goes on in a brave new world.

New big boss Amanda is confident there is no longer a ‘weak link’ in their sisterhood and that they will all remain ‘united in silence’ but are they all guilty and can they really get away with murder?

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Blake is on true killer form in this enjoyable outing with her shamelessly guilty women as the luscious island of St Augustine’s – with its shimmering seas and sandy coves – witnesses the kind of ruthless power play more often seen on a rugby pitch.

There are a lot of dark secrets lurking underneath the froth and frills at the studios of Falcon Bay and readers will be turning the pages at top speed as the temperature soars (in more ways than one!), the stakes are raised, and the sharp suits and stilettoes carve a path through the lust, lies and illicit liaisons.

Add on a truly Machiavellian plot with more twists and turns than a snakes and ladders board, a brilliantly imagined cast of charismatic characters and an explosive, jaw-dropping twist in the tail… and the final Falcon Bay drama promises to be a dazzling show-stealer!

(HarperCollins, hardback, £12.99)