Ali Kurmi is a 35-year-old songwriter and events DJ and dreams of making a career in the music business. He also works for his father, Javed, as an unofficial bailiff. He lives in Portsmouth in one of Javed's many properties – rented out to students across the south. He hates the job and his father in equal measures. Unfortunately his father holds the trump card and Ali is obliged to carry out the work. He knows his old man won't hesitate in leaking the ruinous secret, if he doesn't toe the line.
Becky Davies is Ali Kurmi's best friend and occasional lover. Well, she was. She's 26, feisty, bright, determined and clever. For the time being she's happy rubbing along with talented Ali – who's a great cook as well as a clever DJ and songwriter. She's more than happy to savour his spicy food as well as his body. She didn't fancy launching straight into a law career after getting her degree at university and has had a string of temporary jobs ever since. She's currently biding her time waiting tables at a Mexican restaurant in Portsmouth.
Laura O'Brien, a 52-year-old recovering alcoholic, is from Tipperary, where five years ago she met and fell in love with Ireland's number one racehorse breeder. After just four years of happy marriage, disaster struck; Frank O'Brien dropped dead with a brain aneurism, leaving behind a very rich widow and two very inheritance-angry children. Laura is subsequently persecuted by them and is driven to start a new life elsewhere. She settles in Hampshire at the suggestion of her friend, Alice Kingston. She meets Ali Kurmi at one of his gigs.
New age and charismatic Alice Kingston (53) is English and Laura's long-time AA mentor and close friend. She met Laura at an AA meeting in Dublin and became Laura's sponsor after the breakdown of Laura's first marriage. After her own divorce she moved to Wickham in Hampshire, offering beauty treatments to locals from her home. Her alternative ideas and spiritual beliefs raise a few eyebrows in affluent and leafy rural Hampshire.
Javed Kurmi is Ali's father (66). He is based in Bromley, Kent from where he runs his successful property renting business. Javed is a big man. Big ego, big business, big appetite – and he has big plans for Ali. He's used to getting his own way – with just one possible exception – his younger son. But he takes comfort in knowing that he has life-changing leverage and he won't be afraid to use it, probably sooner rather than later.
Devout Catholic, Stephanie O'Brien (38) from Tipperary doesn't do weakness – she bulldozes her way through life. Her beautiful face, high cheekbones and perfect teeth belie her true bitter persona. She's driven, ambitious and heartless – which goes a long way to explaining why she's such a loner. She showed no interest whatsoever in her father's passion for horses and horse breeding when he was alive. Now he's dead, she's suddenly become very interested indeed.
Finn O'Donnell (65) is an organiser of events and team building exercises. He's ex-Royal Navy and was responsible for organising a range of events – on several occasions, functions involving members of the Royal Family. He's made a great success of his business and lives in some splendour, in a large Georgian house near Wickham with his wife, Samantha. He employs Laura on a casual basis and it was at one of his events that Laura and Ali met.