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Venice Beach Romance #1

The Merchant of Venice Beach

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The Rollicking Bun—Home of the Epic Scone—is the center of Suzanna Wolf’s life. Part tea shop, part bookstore, part home, it’s everything she’s ever wanted right on the Venice Beach boardwalk, including partnership with her two best friends from high school, Eric and Fernando. But with thirty-three just around the corner, suddenly Suzanna wants something more—something strictly her own. Salsa lessons, especially with a gorgeous instructor, seem like a good start—a harmless secret, and just maybe the start of a fling. But before she knows it, Suzanna is learning steps she never imagined—and dancing her way into confusion.

230 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 2013

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About the author

Celia Bonaduce

14 books479 followers
Celia Bonaduce has the coolest day job – a field producer on HGTV’s House Hunters. Her credits include other HGTV shows, including Tiny House Hunters, Where Are They Now and ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

If you’re sensing a theme – a love of houses – so did she. After her mother moved into a tiny house of her own, it seemed like a new book series revolving around what it’s like to live in a tiny house was nothing less than providential.

While Celia’s other books – the Venice Beach Romance series and the Fat Chance, Texas trilogy – are anchored in particular places, the heroines of the Tiny House Novels are off to discover life’s big mysteries while living tiny!

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5 stars
62 (18%)
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75 (22%)
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102 (31%)
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53 (16%)
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37 (11%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews
Profile Image for Jonel.
1,717 reviews315 followers
January 2, 2014
This was a brilliant novel. Bonaduce takes to the world of writing with a flare seldom seen. She creates a vivid yet realistic view of LA that doesn’t border on fame & the entertainment industry. Bonaduce uses wit and intelligent conversation to create a captivating, emotional story for her audience. Her intricate descriptions create a very unique feel for the world as a whole. The story itself was entertaining and comedic while remaining realistic and down to earth. The story centers on friendships and relationships. Reality and real life play into the relationships that develop throughout.

The characters in this novel are also quite well developed. I loved the main characters. It was so nice to see them as friends as well as a couple. It really added a sense of completion to the novel. The natural dialogue in this novel gives you even further insight into the characters and their relationships. I also appreciate how her relationships play out in a very captivating and intriguing manner without ever requiring an adult only rating. Bonaduce easily shows how romance and explicit scenes aren’t inseparable through the intriguing relationships between her characters.

Overall, Bonaduce’s first novel has me quite intrigued. She has developed a tale that will appeal to a wide audience. I can’t wait to continue on with this series & anything else this author’s brilliant mind can come up with.

Please note that I received this novel free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Suzette.
49 reviews
September 8, 2013
I quite enjoyed this humorous and sweet story of friendships and love in sunny California. I don't normally read romance novels but I met the author, who is really lovely, so thought I would give it a go. I'm glad I did - it's not a romance novel in the traditional sense, with scenes of heaving bosoms, euphemisms for the male organ, and ridiculously passionate sex. In fact, the one almost-sex scene is very funny, not too explicit, and ends in embarrassment for the heroine - certainly more like real life than the unrealistic portrayals of orgasmic delight described in "true" romance novels. Instead, this is a very amusing and intelligent romantic comedy involving salsa dancing, lavender bread, a delightful combination tea shop/bookstore, and friendship. Don't be put off by the cover, which really has nothing to do with the book and doesn't reflect the contents - this is a sweet and witty novel, a very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Char (1RadReader59).
2,203 reviews9 followers
July 21, 2013
I truly enjoyed this trio of friends. It’s set in California in towns that I have been in before made it all that much more real to me. The characters were very believable and so fun that you totally became invested in them and what was happening to them. This was mainly centered on the life of Suzanna Wolfe, who met her friend Carla when she was five. The families were best friends since Suzanna’s family moved into the Napa Valley. At the age of fifteen Eric came into the girls’ lives. It was known to Carla that he was the object of Suzanna’s desire but that did not stop them from hooking up in their junior year. Which crushed Suzanna but they were still her best friends just not every day best friends. When a new boy came to their school who took a fashion interest in her for good reason she had none and he was her new gay boyfriend. They became the new fabulous four but with discord. College was looming and Eric and Carla had their eye on the ball as Suzanne should have her two professor parents thought she should but she just didn’t know what she wanted to do. Well, Fernando came from a poor family and had to work to save the money and the school he had applied to did not accept him, which was Berkley, like Eric. At least that is where they thought Eric was going. A week before the prom Eric came to Suzanna and said he was going to Boston where he got accepted and Carla told her she got accepted Harvard so you know what she thought. Then, he asks her to the prom. After the prom Fernando and Suzanna decide that they are moving to L.A. to make a fresh start and find themselves. Her parents are not happy but they help them both out and so does his dad. Carla decides she wants to ride with them to help them unpack and will fly home since there is two weeks before she leaves. Fernando is not happy he and Carla have always had a love hate relationship. Carla ask to stop for gum that morning so they do before she gets back in the car Eric jumps in. Says he wants to go on the road trip too. What can they say Hello gangs all there? When they get to the hotel at the mid-point Eric pools Suzanna aside and tells her I’ve decided I want to move in with you and Fernando I don’t want to go to Boston after all. There is so much I am missing and so much to tell of all these fours relationship. This has an excerpt and I can tell you I can’t wait to read it already because it has her quirky sister and her renter in it sounds fun already. Really enjoyed. Courtesy of NetGalley.com.
Profile Image for Erika Beebe.
Author 2 books20 followers
August 8, 2013
The Merchant of Venice Beach is a delightful read and within the first few pages, I found myself connecting with the sweet and honest, yet at times hysterical voice, reminding me of the same sort of connection I felt with Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series—minus the paranormal activity of course. Fast paced, yet complicated, much like the footwork in learning how to salsa, I enjoyed the read and appreciated the world she painted very much.

The Good.
Structure. The sentences, the scenes, and her lovely descriptions of her characters captured my attention. I loved the tearoom. It was so human to me: “The walls of the tearoom were a very pale mountain laurel, not pink and not lavender and, while Suzanna had lots of china, none of it matched. She pretended it was a design choice, but in reality, she hadn’t had a ton of money to drop on cups and little plates.” (14).

The Great.
Her supporting characters. I loved the names, the personalities especially in her two male best friends Eric and Fernando. Suzanna our MC, has known them since high school. She works with them. She lives with them, and one of them, she has been in love with the entire time, and hidden crush stories are some of the most intriguing pieces in romance novels because of the

The Ohmigosh.
The Merchant of Venice Beach is a character-based story. Written so tight and with such a lovely gentle voice, Ms. Bonduce immediately pulled me into Savannah, her MC’s world. I imagined her as my neighbor or a friend, and she wasn’t. She’s just a character and I really wished I knew her. I Loved the details in knowing how she met her friends. I enjoyed learning about her own quirks like overthinking and jealousy over her beautiful best friend. I love the humanness of Savannah and no matter who you are, you’ll find something about Savannah to relate to.
Profile Image for Linda.
3,032 reviews2 followers
September 14, 2013
Susanna Wolf knew she could never be as smart as her ten year older sister, Erinn, their parents were both professors and she was no where near their level and it seemed her sister got more of the intelligence gene. They had moved into a barn like house, remodeled it in the Napa Valley, and she was instantly liked their neighbors daughter, but Carla was a schemer and got her into trouble the first time they met. All through school they fought over their friend Eric ad even though Carla knew she had strong feelings for him, she just couldn't get up the nerve to let him know. Eric and her were practicing Romeo and Juliet when the ladder wobbled and she fell in front of the students. They laughed so hard that she had her first panic swell and floated toward the ceiling.............

Celia Bonaduce spins a funny story about long time friends growing up, drifting apart then settling down in Venice Beach where Susanna bought a tearoom and added a bookstore, the three of them. Susanna, Eric, and Fernando had been inseparable through high school and thought nothing about running the business together, but Fernando wanted to remodeled the place and suddenly Carla, the architect was there from the east coast. Would Eric and Carla rekindled their romance? Now Susanna definitely hated that thought as she had always considered Eric hers!! Maybe she needed some space between them so she started to take Salsa lessons when the hot Latin instructor hit her on her bicycle............
Profile Image for Claire.
2,308 reviews702 followers
July 13, 2013
DNF - I got to 20%, absolutely nothing had happened, and I had no idea where it was meant to be going. It's pretty much a non-stop rambling internal dialogue in Suzanna's head, about nothing that particularly connects together. She doesn't like her best friends! She has a crush on a dance instructor who she has just met by him knocking her off her bike, he doesn't apologise and then acts like a total tool towards her.

It's a shame as the synopsis sounded good, but it really needs to be pared back and the story established in a more obvious way, I am sure all the anecdotes and stories are meant to be humorous, but it just didn't work for me, if I am 20% into a book it needs to have at least established a plot, direction and a decent outline of the main characters. Unfortunately, this book was not for me.

ARC provided by Netgalley, in exchange for the above honest review, I am just sorry I couldn't be more positive on this occasion.
4 reviews
September 3, 2013
This book was recommended by a friend, who said it was really witty and intelligently written. THE MERCHANT OF VENICE BEACH did not disappoint! I'm not sure why it is called a "romance", because, while there definitely WAS romance in the story, I considered it more one woman's journey into self-awareness. The heroine, Suzanna, is not your typical protagonist - she demands you stay with her and see the story through - you don't automatically say to yourself "Oh, I get who she is, she's just like me" - although you do identify with her more and more as the book goes on. The author really took a chance with this one - it defies easy categorization as a genre, but I loved the realness of all the characters and Suzanna's brave and weird attempts at self-discovery.
Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,043 followers
May 6, 2015
DNF at 25%

I thought the blurb was interesting but for some reason I just couldn't get into it. So no rating.

A book was gifted to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Blue Falcon.
432 reviews29 followers
July 28, 2021
This review is of The Merchant of Venice Beach, book #1 in the “Venice Beach Romance” series by Celia Bonaduce.

Part 1:
The book’s heroine is Suzanna Wolf, a 32 year-old woman from the aforementioned Venice Beach, California. Suzanna and her two best friends and roommates, Eric Cooper and Fernando Cruz, own The Rollicking Bun, a combination tea/pastry shop and bookstore. One day, while coming out of a supermarket, Suzanna is hit by a car. (She is not injured). Later, Suzanna decides to take dancing lessons from the man who hit her, a dance instructor named Rio whom she is hot for.

Part 2: Napa Valley.

In this segment, we drop back to focus on Suzanna's childhood/teenage years in Northern California. Suzanna's family consisted of: her parents, mother Virginia and father Martin, both college professors, and her older sister, Erinn, a former Broadway playwright. (Martin was killed in an auto accident many years ago). We also learn about Suzanna’s love/hate relationship with her bestie, Carla Caridi, an architect, vinter, and subject of some anger by Suzanna. This portion of the book also reveals how Suzanna, Eric and Fernando met, became friends, and later, decided to travel to Southern California to become business partners and roommates.

Part 3: Downtown.

The scene shifts back to current time. The Rollicking Bun is undergoing a renovation. Suzanna is still taking dance classes and mooning after Rio, whom she nearly has sex with. She also has her 33rd birthday, which is nowhere near a happy occasion.

Part 4: Uptown.

Change is on the horizon. Fernando is leaving to join a carpentry business, Carla is returning to the Napa Valley, and Suzanna and Eric realize they love each other. (In that same moment, an earthquake hits. Eric suffers a broken leg, but he and Suzanna become engaged). The book ends with Suzanna and Eric getting married and having their Happily Ever After.

Upside: “The Merchant of Venice Beach” is a fairly well-written book for a first-time author.

Downside: Much of what one feels about the book will be dependent on how one feels about Suzanna. My feelings toward her are mixed.

On the one hand, Suzanna is a nice enough person, and I can certainly relate to her frequent panic attacks-something I deal with as well. I can also relate to pursuing people who don’t feel the same way about me.

On the other hand, I found Suzanna to be quite neurotic, and at times a bit of a sad, pathetic figure. This is especially true when she spends most of the book pursuing Rio, a man who shows no romantic interest in her, but Suzanna, being who she is, cannot or will not see this. Ms. Bonaduce doesn’t do a great job of developing or making me truly care about her characters; “The Merchant of Venice Beach” is very much a “Readers Are Supposed to Care” because these are the characters book.

Sex: Some heavy petting and one near-sexual encounter involving Suzanna and Rio. The scene never goes further than that.

Violence: While at their senior prom, Carla’s date starts groping her; Eric punches the creep and that ends the incident.

Bottom Line: As I’ve said many times about first-in-a-series books, the purpose of the book is to make readers excited for the work that follows. Based on my views toward “The Merchant of Venice Beach”, I can’t say I’m excited to read more of Ms. Bonaduce’s work (although I own most, if not all, of her books).
Profile Image for Michelle .
2,018 reviews232 followers
January 23, 2014
The Merchant of Venice Beach turned out to be totally different than I expect it to be. But in a really good way. I expected this book to be a fun romance story heavy on the romance and it way more of an adult coming of age story with a hilarious main character/narrator and while romance was a main theme throughout this book, I found it to be so much more about the characters and how they got to where they are in Venice. Celia Bonaduce did such an excellent job letting Suzanna tell her story. I loved her voice. We saw everything through her head and her thoughts and her thought process is so funny. I just found her so relate-able.

When I first started reading Suzanna was instantly taken with the hot dance instructor, Rio. So much so that she decided to take salsa lessons just to try and get to know him. When I first met Rio, I wasn’t impressed. He kind of seemed like a jerk. But as I read on, I realized that wasn’t even the point of the book. The Merchant of Venice Beach was Suzanna’s story. Celia Bonaduce created such an awesome group of characters. Suzanna, Eric and Fernando have known each other since high school, and they live and work together now. They are like a little family. They annoy each other sometimes, but at the end of the day you know they will be there for each other.
The Merchant of Venice Beach is divided into different sections. The story starts out in the present tense when Suzanna is 33. And then it “flashes” back to their high school and college days. But they were much longer than typical flashbacks. I felt like we were told two stories. The then and the now. It helps to make sure that you really get to know all of the characters so well. And I thought that Suzanna was the perfect voice for this story. She was so very relate-able. I could just picture so many of the things she was going through and doing, actually happening.
When I was about half way through the story, I realized that I still didn’t know who Suzanna’s love interest was going to be. There were so many possibilities. Was it going to be the life long friend? The hot dance instructor? The “office-cute” guy from dance lessons? I’m used to having some idea of how a story is going to unfold by the half way point, but I found myself even more excited to read the second half of the book because I didn’t know. So much of Suzanna’s life was up in the air and I had a blast going on this journey to figure some things out with her. This book wasn’t anything like I thought it would be, but it turned out to be even better! Character driven readers will enjoy this book.
2 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2013
This was such a fun, easy read for a summer afternoon. It took me a few pages to be won over by Suzanna's flaws and insecurities (her response to being hit by a car was definitely unexpected), but once I began to understand this quirky heroine I really liked her - and her lifelong friends Eric and Fernando. Suzanna and her friends are engaging, believable characters who are flawed, funny and fun. I liked spending time with them on the page, and only wish that their Tea Shop/Bookstore, "The Rollicking Bun," was an actual place, because I want to hang out there in real life!
Profile Image for books are love.
3,131 reviews24 followers
August 12, 2016
Suzanna came off as a little petulant and selfish. She felt that as she got closer to her mid thirties she needed change. Her friends of childhood were to close for comfort and she was stagnant so she tried to add something to her life. Something her friends weren't involved in and kept it from them. She added dancing. Why? The sexy teacher.

As she learns to dance, her friends begin to feel her discomfort and don't tell her. They don't want to make her feel bad. Although this is distancing them, they hope Suzanna will come to them. Fernando sweet sweet Fernando who has been there for Suzanna through everything feels abandoned and underappreciated. As if Suzanna no longer wishes for them to be around. Can you blame him? She snaps at Eric and Fernando and dismisses Fernando's ideas. As she dives into the world of dance to get the instructor she also alienates Eric making him feel like she doesn't want to be friends with him. He's disappointed in her. She gets selfish and doesn't think that it will change the dynamic between her and Eric and Fernando little does she know.

The tipping point is her birthday when she does something terrible and self absorbing. For Fernando it's the last straw for Eric it just may be.

Eric was a fun sweet guy that she secretly crushes on but does nothing about it. She begins to pull from him and this hurts him a lot. This guy gave alot Suzanna and she throws it in his face.

A story of finding your way and realizing keeping friends at bay doesn't always make things better. A tale of unrequited love that needs to shine through and be seen for the beauty that it is. A fun read that will keep you entertained even if sometimes you want to whack some sense into Suzanna.
September 19, 2013
As someone who’s reading tends toward Legal Tomes, Electronic Manuals, Historical Novels and Nonfiction, I was hesitant to reach into the Realm of the Romance Novel. With not a lot of time to devote to casual reading, I like to be sure my efforts will be rewarded with at least some Knowledge usable in my Daily Life, and never considered the Romance Genre to be a vehicle capable of providing much in the way of residual information.
I found “The Merchant if Venice Beach” to be an enjoyable read, one that reminded me of my own move to Southern California over thirty years ago. Contained therein I found Sage Advice regarding Dance Etiquette, Potential Boyfriend Tests, Woes of
Small Business Ownership and the Benefit of Lifelong Friendships. What I was relieved not to find was the Steam of Semi Pornography usually expected with the Romance, making this a Safe Read for the myriad of young girls who lean toward this type of light material.
The book is well thought out and executed. Aside from serious editorial Flaws demonstrating Lack of Diligence on the Publisher’s Part, many common errors often associated with first time writers are evident, putting Celia in such Good Company as Henry David Thoureau, who’s now Classic ‘Walden’ (the first substantial volume to come out of Early America) was essentially unreadable until it reached its twentieth Edition.
We look forward to Celia’s future Offerings, and wish her luck with this and other upcoming Endeavors!
Profile Image for Sabrina Olteanu.
217 reviews26 followers
January 24, 2014
I received this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you Itching for Books for letting me join the tour and Celia Bonaduce for giving me the opportunity to read The Merchant of Venice Beach.

This story was written brilliant. It was funny, and with a description that will make you enter the story at the same time with the characters. Even the places where they went were perfectly described. That’s a plus side for me, I always love it when a writer manages to pull that off. Anyway... the characters are well formed, the author wrote them as if they were real. Celia hasn’t described LA as a place of just drinking and gambling. She made me wish I could visit that place.

I seriously don’t want to give spoilers with this one, it’s to good not to be read. Let’s just say the main character will make you stay with her the entire story. I couldn’t put the book down! The author really did an amazing job! She wrote a story about long time friends growing up and drifting apart, then again meeting after moving to Venice Beach. It’s impossible not to love it! I highly recommend this book! Hurry up and read it, you don’t know what your missing out!
Profile Image for Angela.
1,817 reviews
July 18, 2015
I just couldn't finish this book. I stopped on page 56. So far there had been no inkling of romance. Instead we had a depressing, neurotic main character who just annoyed me. I was drawn to it by the cover and the lure of the sweet-sounding bookstore and teashop. I loved her two friends and roommates. I just can't see why anyone would ever fall in love with her. She was totally self-absorbed and in her own head all the time. It felt stifling living in that character. I imagine that was the way the author wanted us to see her and her life but by page 56 we should have found something, anything redeeming or interesting about her. Sorry, I normally am not so harsh in my reviews I just feel so frustrated and annoyed after reading it.
Profile Image for Joey.
70 reviews1 follower
August 5, 2013
A light and witty read, The Merchant of Venice Beach is less a romance novel than an exploration of all relationships and their evolution over time (romance included). Think “Bridget Jones' Diary” set in Southern California with a stronger set of friends and less “why am I single” angst.
Profile Image for Alek Marion.
407 reviews20 followers
March 24, 2015
DNF ~ I'm forty pages in, and I am bored to death. The male "romantic" lead is a jerk. The main female character is crazy. This chick is all over the place! I tried skipping ahead, and it doesn't seem to get any better.
Profile Image for Michele.
109 reviews54 followers
September 21, 2017
I got this book while I was browsing the free section on my Kindle. I liked the cover, I liked the title, I liked the plot, but, most of all, I liked the fact that it was free. This was a solid 4 starts for me, I really liked it, but I didn't love it. I would totally continue on with the series, I just need to find time to read all the books I want to read - this is not a priority, though. It was super a super fun, light, fast-paced read and I would totally recommend it if that's something you're usually interested in. I liked the California setting and the fact that, even though it's California, the books is not focused on people trying to be famous and whatnot.. Just normal folks, living a normal life.

Like I said, I got this book for free, but I would totally pay money for it. I'm even considering buying the second book with my own money, so the fact that it was free did not influence my review! I would consider reading other books from this author, I really liked her writing style and her characters.

For more books reviews and other bookish things: www.letmecrossover.blogspot.com
1,147 reviews1 follower
May 16, 2020
The Merchant of Venice Beach

This was a good story about a 33 year old trying to find herself. I enjoyed the look into her life, and I liked the HEA, but there wasn’t a lot of romance - it was more of a mystery about who the romantic interest was. More of an ensemble cast, I guess. It was still enjoyable, and I will likely read the next book about her sister.
Profile Image for Betsy.
319 reviews
May 27, 2017
This was a cute story. If I had read "The Merchant of Venice", I might have known what was coming. I found the story kind of twisting and going off in different directions. But it was a take-off of Shakespeare.
35 reviews
September 21, 2020
Family means those whom live together not blood related

Humorous and a different view of family relationships . Sometimes the best partner is right under you nose. It is so important to tell someone you love them and want to make a commitment to your relationship .
525 reviews130 followers
October 17, 2020
Suzanna's life is good in many ways.  She has her own business, a great place to live, and her roommates are her best friends in the world.  But nearing her thirty-third birthday, she wants something more.  Romance.

A chance meeting puts a drop-dead gorgeous dance teacher on her radar, and the next thing she knows, she's signing up for lessons.  Unfortunately, it appears that every other woman in the class has the same intentions that she does, but she's determined not to let that stop her, even if she feels clumsy and out of place when facing the man of her dreams.

If the synopsis has you thinking this is a romance, think again.  Despite its classification as one, The Merchant of Venice Beach is simply a long-winded story about a woman who clearly has no idea what she wants and goes about getting it in all the wrong ways.  The cover, while not bad at all, is all wrong in context.  I'm not sure who that buff guy is supposed to be, and the bikini girl he's carrying appears nowhere in the story.  Really the only correlation between the cover art and the actual story is the fact that it takes place in a beach town.

I kept reading, first expecting the dance teacher to show a better side and be the dream guy Suzanna wanted him to be.  Then I started wondering when she was going to realize what a complete jerk he was and find someone better.  Then I wondered if that carpenter guy was going to be the solution to her romance dilemma.  And then I just wondered why the hell I bothered reading the whole thing.

I hate to be completely negative about a book, especially when it's an author's debut, but I honestly can't name anything I really liked about it.  While the synopsis promised something fun and possibly great, the story itself was little more than the ramblings of a somewhat whiny woman who was desperate enough for excitement that she allowed herself to be treated terribly by a conceited, selfish, unredeemable man.  I suppose you could say the romance bit finally happened there at the end of the book, but it really had almost nothing to do with the rest of the story, and since it popped out of left field, there was no way I could get into it.  The general plot was a good idea, but the story really failed to deliver.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for D.E..
Author 44 books873 followers
January 8, 2014
Bonaduce’s Merchant of Venice Beach is part self-discovery and part romance. The story centers on Suzanna Wolf who owns the Rollicking Bun a tea shop and bookstore. She runs the Rollicking Bun with her two male best friends. She’s a bit frustrated and fed up with her life as she approaches her 33rd birthday. She decides to take a bit of space from her friends with a salsa class. The consequences are not what she expected.

The book is a quick, easy read. The writing is witty and at times laugh out loud funny. The Rollicking Bun sounds like a shop that I would enjoy spending hours in – drinking tea or exploring the book nook. Not having been to Venice Beach, I enjoyed the descriptions of the area and Suzanna’s bike riding.

Suzanna’s naivety was irritating to me. I look forward to female characters that are smart, intelligent and witty. Although Suzanna is sometimes witty, she is definitely not (street) smart. She doesn’t catch on to what is happening in her own life. The characters of the two male best friends were not well developed either. Eric’s character in particular was not fleshed out enough for me to find the ending believable. As the romance aspect of the book was not elaborate, I would have loved to have seen the self-discovery aspect expanded.

I recommend this book for anyone looking for an easy beach read.

*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review.*
Profile Image for Susan James.
Author 4 books136 followers
March 9, 2015
I went to a romance book panel at Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada and Celia Bonaduce was a panelist. I was impressed with her humor and the problem she had with her first cover. Celia insisted the cover had nothing to do with the story and readers, who looking for a hot romance were disappointed. Her humor impressed me and I bought the book. The Merchant of Venice Beach has nothing to do with that cover. It’s wonderful, wry, chick lit/women's fiction and I loved it.
Susannah runs the Rollicking Scone teashop and bookstore in Venice Beach, CA with her two best friends from high school. The three of them live together above the store. Eric whom she used to be in love with runs the bookstore and Fernando, who is gay, runs the teashop. Susanna is the glue that holds them together. But Susanna is about to turn thirty three and she's looking for something more. When a hot dance instructor almost runs her over, Susanna decides she needs a new interest. Salsa lessons.
The story of Susanna’s quest for something more, twines with the story of her family and best friends into a soufflé of a book. Bonus points for a great recipe for Medieval Gingerbread which I tried and loved and Paleo-ized.
Her next book is about Susanna’s sister and is called A Comedy of Erinn, followed by Much Ado About Mother. Looking at the titles may give you an idea if this is your kind of humor. It is mine and I want to read the other two. Thank you for a wonderful time, Celia Bonaduce.
Profile Image for Kennedy.
22 reviews
April 5, 2014
Gee, I really tried to like this book but it was so boring to me.

The main character, Suzanna, gets the hots for this dance instructor, but the way she even learns of his existence was silly & improbable. Okay so then she goes to this dance studio to check him out and the author goes on and on about some chick who works there. It just droned on. Then she goes on about how she looked on eBay for dance shoes. Enough!! Get to the story.

Then she goes on about how she finds beige dance shows because that's the best color for hiding bad footwork.

The story had SO much history and no action. Then it starts to get a little better and I get to Part II and it MORE history about all of the characters as kids in Napa or somewhere. Honestly, I wanted to squeeze the book into a hypodermic needle and insert it into my eye. Just kill me now.

I read the book because it was on my sister's Kindle and she couldn't finish. We often don't agree so I thought I'd probably love it. Not this time.

The author writes very well but her kind of story is not my kind of read. I just didn't like it even a teeny bit. Sorry. I hate writing bad reviews.
Profile Image for Lisa.
2,289 reviews68 followers
January 17, 2014
The Merchant of Venice Beach by Celia Bonaduce is the first book in the Venice Beach Romance series. This book focuses of Suzanne and her two business partners/roommates/best friends with special guest appearances from her sister (Erinn) and her other best friend Carla.

This book is NOT a steamy, visceral tale of love between the sheets. It is a sedate, humurous tale of friends living a (sorta) laid back life in Venice Beach, remodeling their shop and living life.

An enjoyable read when you want something light and fun. I look forward to finding time to dive into Erinn's story next (A Comedy of Erinn).
Profile Image for Jacquelyn Smith.
1,261 reviews
January 9, 2014
This story was on it game when it came to a woman trying to find herself and romance.
It will take you on a journey like no other thru a woman needs for self-awareness and for fullness. Suzanna will take you places that will have you questioning your chooses in life.
I am giving the book cover 4 dreams because if you know me a pretty draws me in every time.
5 dreams for the writing style because she bought it with this book and it was entertaining to boot.
4.9 dreams. for the characters they made me want to be a part of the storyline and that 's what a great writer stand out from the rest of the crowd.

So dreamers once again I got thru a bad time by finding something to cheer me up a good book, so go grab your copy today and tell me what you think*****
Profile Image for Cassandra (Thebookishcrypt).
570 reviews52 followers
November 2, 2015
Okay, I didn't like this book at all unfortunately. I didn't really have any hopes for it so it's probably the reason why I'm not so let down by it. I didn't believe anything I just read. From Suzanna's ''attraction'' to Rio to the ''plot twist'' at the end. The author did give us a pretty detailed description of their house but other than that I couldn't even place a finger on everybody's personalities. They all seemed so boring to me, there wasn't,t a character that stood out to me. Suzanna's personality was too immature for a thirty-two year old. I couldn't even agree that Rio was an 'asshole' because he never even talked much. It was an awkward read but at least I got through it.
1,141 reviews3 followers
April 9, 2015
Good read.

I picked this book up because it was free on Book Bub and looked cute. But it was a major surprise. It was funny and poignant. It took me a couple of chapters to warm up to the heroine, but she was a charm. The surrounding characters were loving, but knew all her faults and loved her anyway. The hero was pretty silent, hovering in the background for the most part. It was, basically, about a near 33 year old, having a crisis of "is this all there is" and finding what really matters. Of course, this is my interpretation of what I read. But I highly recommend it.
2 reviews
September 26, 2013
The Merchant of Venice Beach is so enchanting, I got swept up in it and felt like I was a secret observer of the trio and their lives and intertwining relationships. I loved all of the details and descriptions and the integration of Suzanna's narration of her innermost thoughts and observations -- overthinking almost every situation -- a product of her imagination and insecurities also found in most women(and men). She takes the reader on a fun journey that I didn't want to end. I want more of Suzanna, Eric and Fernando, please.
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