Saturday, April 9, 2016

#BOOK #REVIEW: Silent Sentry. . .


Award-winning author Theresa Rizzo delivers a thrilling crime novel packed with suspense, romance, and redemption.

The Scarfilis and Donnatellis love deeply and protect fiercely. “Family takes care of family” is the code they live by.

So when a hacker threatens Gianna Donnatelli’s life, Dr. Joe Scarfili is determined to keep her safe, only he has no police or tech experience, and Gianna’s penchant for aiding Detroit’s underprivileged is the same kind of altruism that got his wife killed. Gianna protects Joe with the same unyielding resolve.

Gianna pushes all his insecurity buttons. Joe tries her patience like no other. But together they’ll fight to save each other and their love… Or die trying.

M & J’s Review

Author, Theresa Rizzo, contacted me and asked if I’d review her latest novel, Silent Sentry. I’m always honored when a publisher and/or author contacts me personally to ask for my opinion, and with Theresa she wasn’t any different. Once again, she did her homework in knowing the exact kinds of books I enjoy reading, and I always appreciate any author who takes this extra step. Why else would an author waste their time sending their novels to reviewers who aren’t interested in the subjects they’ve just spent their time slaving over? Something to keep in mind for any hopeful writers out there!

Gianna Donnatelli works in the medical field and has started a new business, along with two good friends who are also partners in her business. They stand to make millions of dollars on an invention Gianna came up with that will catapult the medical industry to the next level. So was it any wonder someone other than Gianna and her friends want to be a silent partner as well? Hmm, that’s strange given the fact Gianna hadn’t invited anyone else to be involved in her new technological company. So, you’re asking, who might have a reason to get involved in Gianna’s new business venture? Umm, wouldn’t you like to know? (Buy the book to find out!)

Gianna’s love interest, Dr. Joe Scarfili, had to work his way into my heart because at the initial beginning, I truly didn’t like his character. I felt like Gianna’s best friend, Faye. Joe was a self-centered, egotistical good looking asshole, but there was something about him Gianna couldn’t help but to notice, and I quickly understood. It could be the fact that they grew up together and their families were very close nit, so what wasn’t there to love about this gorgeous hunk of doctor? The man on the cover of the book looked good, but Theresa’s description of Joe in the story looks twenty times better than our cover man. Umm, even though I had to warm up to Dr. Scarfili, he was damn sure good looking and that just helped ease my pain a little. 

When you first meet Joe, it may be hard to like him because of the way he comes across. However, as you move through the story, Joe’s backstory gives a lot of information as to why he is the way he is. Eventually he begins to show a mature human quality that softens him and yet keeps his character true to form. His love for Gianna was unwavering, and as you go through their love story, which I might add, the love scenes were good and juicy and not overdone, you’ll soon discover at what lengths Joe and Gianna will go to protect the other. What and who they thought they could trust will turn out to be a game of sorts. 

Joe was extremely protective of Gianna and he had good reason to be. Someone had attacked Gianna in her father’s home and she had absolutely no idea who would do this or why? When Patrick, Joe’s best friend and police detective, asked Gianna was there anything missing or anything out of the ordinary, Gianna hadn’t noticed at that point, until she looked at her laptop. Across the screen was a message from the hacker who wanted to make sure her new business became theirs. Gianna was scared to let Joe and Patrick know what this hacker was up to because that would mean the police would have to cease her laptop and she was within days of launching her IPO for her product. What was an up-and-coming entrepreneur to do? Patrick had a nose for good detective work and he suspected something wasn’t quite right with Gianna’s story that she didn’t think anything was tampered with. After some prodding from Patrick, he and Joe quickly came to a conclusion that Joe wasn’t sure he wanted to embark upon. There was a real sense of danger and Patrick’s antennas were up. For you mystery buffs out there, I wonder will you figure out the ending? I must say, Theresa fooled me to some degree. She did a good job keeping the reader guessing.

This was a nice romantic/suspense novel with just the right amount of love scenes and story to keep any reader engaged for hours. Theresa has a nice touch with descriptions giving your mind’s eye just what it needs to see the story unfold as if sitting in a movie theater, which is why I enjoyed the description of Joe because that man was smokin’ hot! Oooh yeah, just what ladies want to read! Overall, this was a pretty decent story, very engaging and thought provoking. Mello & June gives Silent Sentry four stars. The book is on sale now! Please pick up your copy wherever books are sold and use the downloadable links for your convenience. Theresa is a welcomed voice to the literary world! Bravo!


1.  Theresa, after having read your book, I was sold! Tell our readers how you came up with the concept for Silent Sentry?

Thank you, Kimberly. And thank you for hosting me on your blog. Though Silent Sentry is the fifth book I’ve published, it’s the second book I’ve written. The first book was a HUGE learning experience not even worth revising. Basically that book had no conflict and little reason to turn the pages. Romantic suspense is all about plotting and giving the reader reason to turn pages, so I wanted to write in that genre.

Only I wanted a story that wasn’t cliché—that didn’t feature a navy seal, a damaged war vet, or a cynical, burned out cop/detective. I wanted an unlikely hero like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. So my hero was going to be a surgeon.

At the time, the advice was to write what you know. Well, I knew Grosse Pointe, I had a bachelor’s degree in nursing and grew up in a medical family, I’m married to an engineer, and I know big Italian families. So I thought of a plot to tie it all together, and Silent Sentry was born.

2. Silent Sentry was published under Rizzo Publishing. Assuming that’s your publishing house, do you publish other indie authors? And if so, how may aspiring authors contact your company?

Nope…it’s just me.

3. I loved the fact the story took place in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. It was obvious you researched your material well for this book. I also loved the tidbits at the end of the book, which added a nice connection for the reader. Why did you choose this hometown base for your characters?

I’m glad you appreciate all the research and the Fact and Fiction pages. When I need to take literary license, I do, but only feel it’s fair to let the reader know where I did and what the truth is. Also, I like to share great Grosse Pointe local restaurants and stores with readers and perhaps help increase these retailers exposure a little.

I’m a proud Michiganer. I grew up in Grosse Pointe. As an adult I’ve lived in Riverdale, NY, Hicksville, Long Island, 3 towns in the Chicago suburbs, San Diego, CA and my current home in Colorado. I’ve moved around a little bit, and still think Grosse Pointe is a charming, unique place. I’ve always found its stark contrast to neighboring Detroit fascinating—and sad. Also there were practical considerations… I have a lot of family there (Irish/Italian, Catholic. Need I say more? J ) with varied careers and expertizes, and could use them as resources, so I had an easy way to make sure aspects of my story were as accurate as I could make them.

4. It’s always great to see strong women characters holding it down. You expertly created Gianna Donnatelli. Was her character patented after anyone you know personally? And if so, why did you choose this person to base your character?

So pleased you liked Gianna. Nope, she wasn’t based on anybody I know. Only once have I created a character with a real person in mind. In The Lives Between Us, I modeled the senator after an actor I greatly admire, but Gianna is all my imagination—well, except for her name.

My friends, Joe and Jennifer, named their baby girl Gianna, and I thought it was such a lovely, unique name that I borrowed it. My Rizzo family have lots of Bridgets, Angelas, Josephines, Alberts, Pauls, and Joes, but no Giannas. Now we do J

5. How much blood, sweat and tears went into writing Silent Sentry?
No blood or tears, but a lot of sweat. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and wasn’t ready to share this story with the world until it was the best I could make it. It took about 18months to write. Then through many more revisions and rejections from editors from publishing houses—large and small-- I got wonderful feedback that help push me to make the story even better, until I was very happy with it.

Funny story… I had at least 5 editors from different publishing houses tell me I could not kill the cat. I explained that my villain was a really vicious guy and he’d definitely kill a cat. But every dang editor insisted that I could not kill the cat or my readers would hate me. I pointed out that in other books, I’ve killed babies (Okay, so I didn’t murder them, but they died) and nobody complained. They nodded and agreed. I can kill babies, but not cats. How silly is that? So IC got to live. What do you think? If IC died, would it have ruined the story for you?

6. How long have you been present in the literary world?

I’ve been writing and going to conferences, learning the craft of writing and business of publishing for about 19 years. I’m a member of 4 different writers groups. I developed The Sandy, a writing contest for unpublished writers, and ran it for 8 years. I co-coordinated the Crested Butte Writers Conference for 5 years. I still, judge a couple of writing contests a year; I really believe in giving back. There’s a video of my writing journey on my website.

I had 2 very good literary agents who failed to sell various books, and the last one urged me to self-publish because she believed there would be an audience for books like mine that don’t neatly fit in a genre.

So in 2013 I self-published, He Belongs to Me, a child custody story that went on to win the National Indie Excellence Award for romance and The Readers Crown Award for Mainstream Women’s Fiction, finaled in 3 other contests, and became an Amazon #1 bestseller in romance.

7.  Speaking of characters, Dr. Joe Scarfili was something else and fine as hell, I might add! I thought he was pretty hot. He played well off Gianna. What prompted you to write his character in the way you did?

I love Joe, too. Since my dad was a general surgeon, I knew surgeons well. Dad used to take us to the hospital to make rounds with him on a weekend, every once in a while, so I’ve always been comfortable around doctors and hospitals. Joe’s character was familiar, and then I just made him the type of guy that I could adore. Not perfect, but willing to try. Can’t ask for more than that, now can I?

8. Do you plan to write a sequel to Silent Sentry or possibly make those characters a part of a series? I have to admit, as much as I detest series, I’d be interested to see how Joe and Gianna made out. Can you give our readers any thoughts/plans?

I have no plan to write any sequels, though readers are starting to ask for one as they too are not ready to let go of the Donnatelli and Scarfili families. The biggest stumbling block with that is inspiration. I’m not quite sure what I’d write, but if anybody has any ideas, let me know. Seriously.

For now, When I finish promoting Silent Sentry, I’m going to get back to work on a suspense called Secrets.

Dr. Piper Warren moves back to Boulder Colorado for a fresh start in her marriage and her career; however she can’t get pregnant, her husband is sent to war, and her best friend’s husband becomes her patient—and then disappears. As Piper unravels the truth, she’s drawn into a secret world of vengeance that threatens not only her moral code but her very life.

9. The Donnatellis and Scarfilis were all about family. I’m often asked how I find time to write and hold a 9 to 5 job. (Truth be told, Theresa, it’s damn sure not easy), but how do you balance your family life and your professional life?

These days it’s pretty easy because my kiddies are all grown and off on their own, so I write full-time. But while I was still raising four kids 24/7, it was simple…they came first. Always.

I’d fit in the writing when I could and didn’t pressure myself to write more because when it stops being fun, I’m not going to do it. Life is too short and throws us too many curveballs as it is to make yourself crazy. Which is why I only got 6 books written in 19 years. Many authors crank out 2 or more a year. The type of complex, research-intensive books I like to write take me 12-18mos to write, so 2 a year isn’t doable, but I’m okay with that. As I said, it’s gotta be fun or there simply no point for me.

10. I’ve read recently there’s been a spike in paper books again. Many readers argue that they get tired of their eReaders not functioning properly interrupting the flow of their reading. How do you feel about eBooks versus paper?

I prefer paperback. I like the feel of a book in my hand, however when I travel, you just can’t beat the convenience of having 5-6 books on a kindle.

11. When we were children, most of us had hopes and dreams about what we wanted to be when we grew up? Did your childhood dream become a reality for you? Or, do you have other talents you’d also like to explore?

You know…I was never all that ambitious as a kid. I wanted to be a mommy—until I was a good mommy and wife and found that lacking. Though being a stay-at-home mom is a laudable profession, I felt underappreciated, and living for my kids and husband was sucking the life out of me—all my fault by the way. So I started learning the craft and business of writing, and it saved my sanity. Writing was a wonderful creative intelligent outlet and it fed my soul and made me a much happier person and better mother and wife.

If I tire of writing—or rather tire of working so hard and not making any money—you write, you know what I mean—then I might spend time
creating mosaics with my wet tile saw. I have tons of projects in mind that I’d enjoy doing. Right now I’ve designed a Harry Potter mosaic for this summer—can only work on it while it’s warm outside because it’s messy, noisy, and you spray water everywhere!

12. As writers, there’s always something we’re passionate about. So, what we’d like to know is what makes Theresa Rizzo tick?

Now that’d be telling, wouldn’t it?

A girl’s gotta have some secrets. Okay, I guess it’s really not much of a secret. Family. Love. Appreciating the wonderful life and planet God gifted us. Sharing the talents God gave me.

I am so grateful for all the blessings in my life! I’m even thankful for the painful lessons, as I believe they help chisel a person into a better version of themselves—if one allows it. And hard as it sometimes is for this reforming control freak to accept…I do believe all things happen for a reason and if we can just surrender, our perfect life will unfold the way it’s meant to and it’ll bring us immense happiness. I just wish surrendering wasn’t so damn hard!

Mello & June would like to give a big THANKS to Theresa for taking time out of her day to hang out with us.  Please show your love by following the links below.  Happy Reading!

Find the Author/Buy the Book:

Theresa's website:

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

If You've got Family,
You're Blessed!