From the author of A Brooklyn Story and one of USA TODAY’s celebrated “New Voices of 2011,” comes a new novel which exposes the over-the-top decadence—and corruption—of Wall Street’s elite.
Hailed as one of USA Today’s New Voices for her 2011 literary debut, Brooklyn Story, Suzanne Corso brings back the “true female voice” (The New York Times) of aspiring author Samantha Bonti in this breathtaking companion novel.
IT WAS THE DECADE OF BIG MONEY, BIG RISKS, BIG HAIR, AND BIG DREAMS . . . AND THERE WAS ONLY ONE BIG CITY WHERE IT COULD ALL HAPPEN
Growing up in Brooklyn, Samantha Bonti knew the writer’s life she was meant to live waited across the bridge in Manhattan. Summoning the courage to break free from an abusive mobster boyfriend, Sam finally leaves Bensonhurst and begins her new life, working as a temp in a Wall Street brokerage firm. Quickly, she’s swept off her feet by Wall Street player Alec DeMarco, a man of boundless energy, appetites, desires, and the wealth to indulge it all. In a whirlwind courtship, Alec showers Sam with exquisite gifts, the city’s finest cuisine, spontaneous weekend getaways, and, most of all, the love and security a girl from an unstable Brooklyn upbringing craves. But when the party’s over—when Alec’s high-flying career turns litigious and the big money is left on the table—will love be enough to sustain them? With her dream of publishing her novel still very much alive, Sam can’t back down now; she must choose the life that’s most true to who she really is inside.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Suzanne Corso is the author of Brooklyn Story and The Suite Life, as well as two feature film screenplays. She has also produced two documentaries and written one children’s book. She currently lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
The Suite Life
In retrospect, I can’t imagine why I had never considered that Tony could reach all the way from his prison cell across the bridge and into that publisher’s office to continue controlling my life. I should have known better, but I was, after all, only nineteen and still naïve, despite everything I’d been through with him and with my mother.
Now, just over ten years later, I’m a bit wiser if not yet much better off. Whenever I think about all my big plans, I remember the old saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plan.” If that’s true He must be doubled over and splitting a side at the cosmic joke that has been played on me.
I’d had to set aside my dreams of going to New York University and graduating with a degree in literature, and instead got a job straight out of high school to support myself. But whenever I began to doubt my path in life or feel sorry for myself, I thought of the foundation of love and encouragement I’d been given by my grandma Ruth and my faith in the Blessed Mother.
With the constant presence in my life of these two women who were always “there” for me, I knew that I’d be able to do whatever it took to achieve my goal of being a strong, independent woman and, ultimately, a published author.
I’d already come quite a way from the time when my mother died and I had to borrow money from friends just to pay for her funeral. I had steady temp work at a new brokerage house and had recently been put in charge of payroll, so let’s just say I added a few hours here and there. I had to eat, right? With the bump in hours and pay that came with that mini-promotion I was already eating a little better and had a bit less stress when the rent came due. And the best part—I no longer owed anyone a dime.
Once Tony was transferred to a federal penitentiary in Kansas about five years ago, I’d stopped looking over my shoulder and jumping every time the phone rang. Although the manuscript for The Blessed Bridge, the novel I had written based on the years I spent with Tony Kroon, had been gathering dust on a shelf in my closet for years, I was submitting short stories and features to minor outlets, and I was deep into another novel that I was sure was destined for a better fate—as was I.
All things considered, my life wasn’t all that bad, and I was still on track, albeit not in the express lane. I told myself that I was simply living my own version of Girl, Interrupted, and it could have been a lot worse. They say that when one door closes on you, God opens another. I still had my whole life in front of me, plenty of time to find that door, and I reminded myself to focus more on the positive, as Priti, my best friend at work, was always counseling me to do. Priti Sarma was a pretty woman with finely chiseled features who had emigrated from India with her family. Things hadn’t been easy for her family either before or after they landed in America, and yet Priti was full of life and optimistic to a fault. Although I tended to guard my privacy and not get too friendly with the people in the offices where I’d worked over the years, Priti’s exuberance and the hope that she exuded were infectious. I’d become accustomed to keeping friends and coworkers at arm’s length—my suspicious nature a by-product of my entanglements with the mob. But after a decade of cautiously looking over my shoulder, I began to let my guard down and was grateful for my friendship with Priti. She taught me about India and her family’s customs, which intrigued me, and she introduced me to the Buddha and the Hindu faith, which fed my curiosity about all things related to God. Her beliefs didn’t threaten my own, as I’d already decided long before that every path of pure worship had the same end.
And she was equally open to learning about Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother. Now and again she would join me for the short noon Masses at Our Lady of Victory, located just up the block from our office, every Monday, and would ask about my rosary-collecting hobby, which had started when I picked up a string of white plastic beads I had almost stepped on in the street when I was walking to my mother’s funeral. Priti seemed to be fascinated by that glimpse into my past, as she was by everything I had to tell her about the rites and rituals of Catholicism.
One day, on impulse, I grabbed her hand and dragged her along with me to Mass. On hot summer days when you could actually see the heat rising in waves from the tar-covered streets and it was too hot to sit outside on a bench, we’d often sit in a cool, dark pew and talk quietly about the mysteries of faith, or pray silently in our own ways. In the peace and quiet of Our Lady of Victory, I am always reminded that I still find comfort in church—and that is no small thing.
That said, however, it was often harder to keep the faith in other areas. Yes, I was still writing, but also still waiting for the break that would allow me to actually live in Manhattan instead of just working there. When my mood got too bleak, Priti inevitably sensed when I was feeling low and was always there to cheer me up.
“What’s with the long face?” she’d ask, her lively dark eyes peeking over the partition between us.
“Nothing,” I’d answer, automatically fingering the rosary that found its way into my hand whenever I was anxious. “Just thinking about things.”
“You girls working?” our ever-vigilant boss would invariably roar through the open door of his glass-enclosed office across the aisle.
“Yeah,” I lied every time he asked the same question. I figured if he hadn’t already fired me for my less-than-stellar typing skills, he wouldn’t send me packing just for having a little over-the-partition chat with my friend.
“Who’s zoomin’ who, Ms. Bonti?” he asked, quoting the Aretha Franklin song. “Get back to that projection I’ve been waiting for too long already.”
“Keep the faith, Sam,” Priti would whisper as she sank back into her cubicle.
Okay, okay, I said to myself, turning back to my keyboard. I guess everyone is waiting for something. Despite a rush hour commute that would depress a saint, Priti’s encouraging words generally kept me in a positive frame of mind until I got home, where I was greeted by the painting of the Blessed Mother that hung above my bed. There are a lot worse roommates, I told myself every time I saw it.
Some days, however, as I was preparing my go-to, cheap-but-healthy brown rice and broccoli dinner, the dreariness of my surroundings and the bleakness of my prospects really got to me—and on those days neither Priti nor the Blessed Mother could raise me out of my funk. I was in just such a mood one morning when I heard a familiar voice behind me at the bus stop.
“My, oh my. I’m not sure the Big Apple is ready for you today.” It was John, my old friend from Brooklyn, who worked near my office downtown.
I smiled and gave him a peck on the cheek, self-consciously smoothing the skirt of my blue-and-white-striped suit. Mom had bought it for me at a thrift store—it was so old that it had become retro and it was still in good shape all these years later because I had long since learned how to take care of the limited wardrobe I had. The skirt was pencil straight and clung to the curves on my petite frame in the right places but demanded to be worn with heels, which was okay with me. I’d always hated the way women look rushing for the train or the bus in their business suits and clunky sneakers; talk about not knowing how to feminize a suit.
“Nice suit, Bonti. I don’t know how anyone in your office gets any work done with you walking around in that getup,” he said, draping an arm across my shoulders and nudging me closer.
“Easy, John—it’s just a suit,” I retorted, elbowing him playfully and secretly loving the compliment. I’d been in a funk for so long, wondering how I’d become one of the dreary corporate drones commuting to Manhattan every day, that I’d forgotten how nice it was to get a little male attention.
“What can I say—you wear it well!”
I loved John for how sweet, honest, and supportive he was. He was a few years ahead of me in high school, and knew Tony, so he knew where I had truly come from, which scared most guys. But not John. He was always a gentleman, always ready with a compliment or kind word—and we both knew he’d always wanted to be more than friends, but the spark just wasn’t there on my end. We rolled into lower Manhattan and stopped at a cart for coffee before parting ways with our customary two kisses and a hug.
I looked at my watch and picked up my pace—I was late already. I’d walked those two blocks from the bus to the office so many times that my feet took me there without my even paying attention to where I was going. I was still deep in thought when, steps from the glass and steel monolith that was my home away from home, I squeezed the white plastic rosary in my pocket and, without looking up, took a sharp left toward the door. As I did that, something caught my shoulder and spun me around. I lurched awkwardly to prevent myself from falling and spilling my coffee. “What the . . .” The words were almost out of my mouth when I looked up—and up—into the deep, laughing blue eyes of the giant who had almost bowled me over. The guy was huge . . . and gorgeous. At least six foot two and about two hundred thirty pounds, he had a full head of wavy black hair and an impish smile that compelled me to smile back. His perfect teeth were whiter than white against his tanned skin, and as I glanced down at the arm still on my shoulder, I could feel myself beginning to blush. That wasn’t like me at all. But there was something about this man that took my breath away—and it wasn’t the force of his blow to my shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” he said, even though he didn’t sound very apologetic. “I hope I didn’t hurt you, but I think you’re beautiful and I couldn’t think of any other way to get your attention. My name is Alec, by the way.”
“Well, thank you, I guess. You certainly do have a forceful way of introducing yourself, Alec,” I shot back, having finally regained at least some of my composure. “I’m Samantha.”
“Pleased to meet you, Samantha. And I’m truly sorry if I scared you. If you don’t have a boyfriend or a husband, I would love to take you to brunch or dinner.” He glanced at my left hand—the surreptitious ring check—and I realized I was still clutching my rosary. He turned on his thousand-watt smile: “You’re not a nun, are you?”
Now it was my turn to smile. “Don’t worry,” I said, “I’m not married, and I’m definitely not a nun” (although my social life had been about as active as a nun’s even now that I was free of Tony). “But I am very late right now.” The guy had a nerve, but he was so charming that it would have been impossible to stay angry with him.
“So am I,” he said, grin widening.
“Look, Alec, it’s been great and all that, but I really have to go now,” I said with as much conviction as I could muster.
“Yeah, I missed the opening bell, too,” he confessed. Then he reached into his pocket, pulled out a card case, and leaned in close to my ear. “Call me, Samantha,” he whispered, slipping a business card into my hand and allowing his fingers to brush mine for the briefest of instants, “next time you have an open Saturday or Sunday.” And with that he turned and disappeared into the crowd.
I took a deep breath and steadied myself. Holy shit, what just happened there? I thought, shaking my head in disbelief as I pulled open the door to my building. By the way, what is brunch?
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for The Suite Life includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
When Samantha Bonti meets the man of her dreams in Alec DeMarco, a successful Wall Street broker, she believes she has finally left the insecurities of her hardscrabble past behind. But now she faces a different kind of challenge: carving a place for herself in the lavish, high-stakes world of Manhattan’s elite without losing her own identity.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. While dating Alec, does Samantha turn a blind eye to warning signs about his true nature, or was she unaware of his dark side until after they married? Does Alec genuinely care for Samantha, or is she simply another acquisition to him?
2. At numerous points in the story Samantha is shocked at Alec’s behavior, especially when he punches Hercules and later when he slaps her glasses off her face. Why does she continue to stay with him? Why is she so bothered by her failure to defend Hercules? What larger implications are there in her silence?
3. In what ways does Alec remind Samantha of Tony Kroon, her former boyfriend? Are the two men more alike than they are different? Why does she compare Wall Street to the mob?
4. What role does religion play in Samantha’s life? When Alec asks her how she survived her relationship with Tony, she responds, “My faith sustains me” (page 31). Cite examples of how she draws on her faith during her marriage to Alec.
5. Samantha’s grandmother provided her with encouragement and a loving foundation, while her mother was a drug addict and an alcoholic. How do her past relationships with each woman continue to affect her and influence her life, in both positive and negative ways? In particular, how do Samantha’s fears about her mother affect her own parenting of Isabella?
6. Of all Alec’s family members, why is it Giovanni to whom Samantha feels the closest? Why does she sense she no longer belongs in Alec’s family—or his Wall Street crowd—once Giovanni is gone?
7. At one point Samantha wonders, Do I even have any negotiating power anyway? (page 203). Why does she feel so powerless in her marriage to Alec? How much of it has to do with her ceding all financial control to him? Does money equal power in a relationship?
8. Compare Samantha’s two different worlds—the wealthy Wall Street circle and the theater industry. Why does she credit the latter, including her friendships with Doris, Marvin, and Gregory, with preserving her sanity?
9. How does Samantha stay grounded in Alec’s over-the-top world? As he inducts her into his lavish lifestyle, she vows, “No matter what happened, I fully intended to remain true to myself” (page 48). Does she manage to do this?
10. When Alec’s career begins to unravel, why is Samantha better able to handle the reversal of fortune than he is? Do you agree with her theory that society was at least partly responsible for Alec’s failures—as a husband, father, and businessman—by “causing him to believe that it was wealth that defined him” (page 302)?
11. Why is Samantha so determined to see that The Blessed Bridge be published? What does the book represent to her? How is it a touchstone in her life, especially in darker times?
12. What draws Samantha to Spiro Stavros? What does he offer her that Alec does not? Would Spiro be a good match for her? Why or why not?
13. Samantha finally admits that she no longer loves or even likes Alec. Why, then, does she choose to stay with him? What do you suppose the future holds for her, romantically and otherwise?
14. The recent “Occupy Wall Street” movement brought the country’s top one percent into the media spotlight. After reading The Suite Life, what is your opinion of the world of high finance? Did the book dispel or confirm any preconceived ideas you had about the Wall Street elite? How so?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Along with The Suite Life, read and discuss Brooklyn Story, the first book featuring Samantha Bonti.
2. Samantha finds fulfillment in writing a novel and producing plays. Do you have a long-held creative dream you’d like to accomplish? Share it with the group, and see what advice they have to offer. In addition, combine your discussion of The Suite Life with a visit either to the theater or to a bookstore to attend an author event.
3. Indulge your sweet tooth like Samantha did during her first visit with Alec’s family. Enjoy strawberries dipped in prosecco and then rolled in powdered or brown sugar.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
'The Suite Life' is a contemporary women's fiction novel that follows main character Samantha "Sam" Bonti as she begins her fresh start after a breakup with an abusive boyfriend. Before she realizes it, Alec DeMarco - a notorious Wall Street player - is sweeping her off her feet. Alec showers Sam with affection, gifts, vacations, dinners out - the best that money can buy. But when Alec's career takes a turn for the worse and the money looks like it might be gone for good - will their love be enough to keep them together? This was an interesting women's fiction novel that tells the story of a woman trying to get a fresh start in life and attempting to finally follow her dreams. Samantha is a great character - she's strong, smart, dedicated and hopeful for the future. I enjoyed watching Sam's relationship with Alec flourish, although it was a bit cliched and cheesy at times. The plot wasn't that original, but the author used detailed descriptions and great insight into the characters to give it an edge over some of the other books in the genre. The writing was well done and the story flowed easily from the pages. Although this is a romantic women's fiction novel, it also deals with important life topics such as abuse, finding yourself, love, and determination. Recommended for fans of the genre and those who enjoy romance. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
THE SUITE LIFE by Suzzane Corso is an interesting Women's Fiction/Literary set in New York. Sequel or companion book to her debut novel "Brooklyn Story",but can be read as a stand alone. The good, bad, and the ugly of the American dream. Aspiring author Samantha Bonti, leaves Bensonhurst for Manhattan, New York. With brides to cross, abusive mobster ex-boyfriend, and a whirlwind courtship with Wall Street Broker, Alex DeMarco, Sam finds she must choose between a dream and real life. Following a dream and finding oneself is harder than it seems. Sam was raised in an unstable household, craves to be an author, find love, security,acceptance and money, but can she kept what she finds or will she lose it all? Can you truly remain true to yourself in the high flying world of a lavish lifestyle, the wealthy and high finance? A very emotional story to me with many twists and turns. If you ever wondered about the Wall Street elite, than "The Suite Life" is a must read, for it is filled with details. Based on the author's Brooklyn upbringing during the 1970's. Ms. Corso is a new voice to the Literary world and one to keep an eye on in the future. Received for an honest review from the publisher. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: SWEET REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
The suite life is a story of a young woman, who wrote a novel of her extraordinary survival being a mob girlfriend. She has made a life of her own, despite all the restrictions she had from the old relation ship. The heady way over the top world wind romance is dramatic in its scope and how drawn the main character is attracted to the overtly aggressive love of life leading man. Her hinted at troubled childhood, difficult past relationships, makes her enduring as she struggles with seeing the reality before her. The drawn out extremely morbid marriage, Alec's extravagance and neglect, his abusive obsessive drug addled nature makes the 12 first years of marriage similar to her abusive childhood. The hardest part is her attempt to turn a blind eye to his behavior. Her excuses and acceptance of his behavior only climax when his Wall Street financial world comes crashing down. All his ostentatious belongings, and possessions are sold. He is forced to borrow money to keep them into their small down sized apartment. His depression and his self medication set him in a spiraling down fall of self abuse and neglect that makes his financial downfall just more dramatic. Samantha is able to pull up her boot straps, work as a producer for plays that brings enough money to keep her and her child fed. She is able to finally establish herself with in her own right. As Alec spirals into psychological breakdown, she has the first step of success, and finally publishes the book she wrote so many years ago.
With this novel, I'm willing to hold my pencil in my right hand and my ballot in my left hand and make a noncommittal commitment and say this was an average read for me. It reminded me of hayrides and meandering joyrides. It provided insights into a world where affection proved at a premium and offered up sexless marriages and ambition and ego that overshadowed all other experiences and problems. It filled me with broken promises and unfulfilled dreams. Suzanne Corso lets her love of Brooklyn and "The Big Apple" and Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, congestion, population overflows, toll roads and toll bridges and bountiful high rises and dollar bills and cab rides, limos, Mercedes convertibles, and BMWs and stock options and Wall Street and Main Street shine through on the page. What would a novel that includes the NYSE be, though, without acquisitions and mergers and accounting irregularities and power and authority and reckless greed and constant excess and careless abandon and penile injections and horny dogs and $20K a day porn stars. In that regard, THE SUITE LIFE reminded me of Congress and the DC area. But this novel proved to be a bit more than just A Gay Day. Sure, it had the syrupy air and atmosphere of women's fiction, but I enjoyed the somewhat loose connection to a Wall Street powerbroker with a private jet and helicopter and his Long Island compound, even if Alec DeMarco did like to shoot himself full of HGH, testosterone, steroids, alternative and natural medicine, designer drugs, and popped the occasional Percocet. Since I could practically live on food and finance and books and movies, I didn't mind all the references to stocks and bonds, trading companies, investment firms, and real estate and restaurants and shows, clubs, strippers, hookers, and escort services and porn, pot, and pills. But keep in mind, this book does have the occasional college age floozy and loose women who strive for more. It proved to be a relatively light read where I could park my brain at the door and forget who I was for a few hours. And that was A-OK by me. I received this book for free through NetGalley. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator