Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Silent Sentry by Theresa Rizzo (Author Interview / Book Review)

In association with author Theresa Rizzo, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Silent Sentry!

Author Interview

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself. 

Hi Kathleen,

Thanks for hosting me on your blog today. A little bit about me? I’m a Michigander who married her high school sweetheart 33 years ago, and raised four wonderful kids while writing books. I’m a pretty creative person who loves making all kinds of things, books just happens to be the one I share the most.

How long have you been a writer? Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career? 

I’ve been writing for about nineteen years. Most of that time my day job was being a stay-at-home-mom, raising our four children.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer. 

I always enjoyed creative writing. But when we had children, I’d write about them and their escapades in my annual Christmas letter and friends and family got such a kick out of my stories, that I thought it was cool I could entertain them that way. But it wasn’t until my fourth baby was born, that I wrote that first book.

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.

Please give a brief description/storyline about Silent Sentry

Silent Sentry is about an entrepreneur teaming up with the man she’s secretly loved to outwit a psychotic hacker before he destroys all she holds dear.

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.

What was the inspiration for this story?

Though Silent Sentry is the fifth book I’m publishing, it was the second book I’d 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.

Do you write books for a specific genre? 

The genre of my books is determined by the story that captures my imagination and wants to be told, yet they all have a strong romance in them and will always have a happy ending. The optimist in me must be honored.

Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing? 

I write on my laptop, so I write at my desk, then I’ll often pick up the computer and move around the house, writing on my bed, or my favorite chair in my bedroom, or the couch in the family room or on my treadmill because I need to get exercise each day and writing and walking also helps the ideas flow.

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes? 

I’m a binge writer, and I write in the mornings, afternoons or evenings or all three—or none. I write a bunch for many months on end to get a draft down, then let it sit for a couple of weeks before going through numerous revisions.

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most? 

I enjoy the research and all I learn about a variety of topics when writing a book. I love the field trips when I go out to various locations to absorb the atmosphere and take pictures before writing descriptions of places. I love writing plot and dialogue the most, and I struggle a bit more with the love scenes. Let’s just say it’s a LOT easier to have sex than to write good sex scenes!

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing? 

I have tons of hobbies. I love hiking, playing cards, playing games with my family, reading—of course—traveling, playing tennis, skiing, creating mosaics with my wet tile saw, crocheting and reading some more.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received? 

Be a perfectionist and keep revising until the story can be the best you can make it at that time.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer? 

Reading reviews where readers really enjoyed one of my books and recognize and appreciate all I put into writing it is really satisfying. I love chatting with readers about my books and the writing process.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

I communicate most often with readers/fans through Facebook or email. I also Skype with book clubs or attend book club meetings if I happen to be in town.

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination? 

Silent Sentry is pretty much made up except for the pig roast. Every year, my dad’s cousin’s family hosts a huge pig roast barbecue for friends and family up at their cottage in Algonac, Michigan. Aunt Rose’s pig roast was modeled off of that annual family event. As kids, it was great fun playing in the St. Clair River, hunting for Petoskey stones, gorging ourselves on great Italian food, and visiting with extended family we didn’t see more than a couple of times a year. Also the book talks about a family specialty, Spingi. Spingi is an Italian sugar donut that my grandma made that was considered a special treat.

What is your definition of success as a writer? 

This is a really interesting question. Hundreds of good reviews is a solid testament to a writer’s success. Book awards are another way to measure success. Hitting the New York Times or B&N bestseller list is a time-honored indication of success. And I’ll know I’ve really “made it” when I can make some money from my books. There are between 250,000-400,000 fiction books published each year, yet only about 600 fiction writers worldwide, can make a living from writing. It’s a tough profession.

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?

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.

About The Author

Theresa Rizzo is an award-winning author who writes romantic crime fiction and emotional stories that explore the complexity of relationships and families through real-life trials.

Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, she now lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with her husband of thirty-three years. After attaining a BS in Nursing, Theresa retired to raise four wonderful children and write.

Author Website

Book Review

Silent Sentry by Theresa Rizzo
Publisher: Rizzo Publishing
Publication Date: Paperback - March 24, 2016 / eBook - April 3, 2016
Format: Paperback - 410 pages
               Kindle - 988 KB
               Nook - 606 KB
ISBN: 978-0989045070
BNID: 2940152613308
Genre: Crime Thriller / Romantic Suspense

Buy The Book:

Amazon US

Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Barnes & Noble US
Barnes & Noble UK

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by author Theresa Rizzo.

Book Description:

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

An entrepreneur must team up with the man she’s secretly loved to outwit a psychotic hacker before he destroys all she holds dear.

Dr. Joe Scarfili runs. He’s a runner. It’s how he copes with emotional pain.

When his wife was murdered, he ran from violent Detroit to insular Grosse Pointe. He ran from his smothering, caring family to long hours in the operating room. But when he falls for Gianna, another run could cost him everything.

Nurse and entrepreneur Gianna Donnatelli is on the verge of making her dreams come true. Her company is poised to go public with a product guaranteed to revolutionize medical care and at the same time help revitalize Detroit, only she’s attacked, stalked, and flattened by an explosion. Then the danger escalates.

With Gianna’s life at stake, Joe can’t run. Despite the fact that he has no police or tech experience… Despite the fact that Gianna’s penchant for aiding Detroit’s underprivileged is the same kind of altruism that got his wife killed… Despite the fact that Gianna pushes all his insecurity buttons… This time, Joe will do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

And Gianna protects those she loves just as fiercely. Together they’ll fight to save each other and their love... Or die trying.

Book Excerpt:

Silent Sentry Excerpt
Setup: Gianna’s dad is shot and Joe couldn’t revive him—just like he failed to save his wife, Meggie. Blaming himself for yet another death, Joe buries himself in work and avoids Gianna. When Gianna’s patience wears thin, she confronts him at his office

Gianna slid off his desk and stood near him, but Joe couldn’t bring himself to look at the pity in her eyes. A hand lightly touched his shoulder, sliding down his back as she sank to her knees. Gently she cupped his cheek and pulled his face toward hers.
Joe frowned, keeping his eyes on the floor. He didn’t deserve her compassion or understanding. He couldn’t forgive himself, and he didn’t want it from her. Lashed by her disappointment and pain, he got what he deserved.
When Gianna spoke, each word was carefully enunciated. “It is not your fault. There was nothing anyone could have done.”
Joe allowed himself to look at her. The sincerity and compassion softening her face humbled him. Gianna really believed it. She didn’t blame him for her father’s death. Breath catching in his chest, his heart contracted painfully. He closed his eyes and had to turn away before he gave in to the solace she offered—the comfort he didn’t deserve.
“Why’re you so understanding when I’ve been such an ass? You deserve better.”
“I do.” Gianna nodded. “But I don’t have the energy to stay mad at you. Since Pa died, I find myself vacillating between fury and fatigue. Today, I’m short on energy, and what little I have, I choose to direct toward the clinic and Life Tech. At least with them I have a chance of creating something wonderful.”
So she was moving on. He should have expected it, but still a tiny part of him hoped for a different outcome.
Gianna put a hand on his knee. “Joe, I’m sorry about Meggie. You’re a wonderful doctor. I’m sure you tried your best to save her. Don’t let them win.”
Joe frowned in confusion. Let who win? What the hell’s she talking about?
“Don’t let them do this to you.”
“Don’t let them take your confidence. You’re a talented doctor, yet you’re still only a man.” Gianna’s lips turned up in a gentle smile and humor twinkled in her eyes. “I’m sure sometimes it feels like you surgeons are God, but you’re not. You can’t save everybody. Do you think I don’t know what this work marathon’s about?”
Her eyes locked on his, refusing to release him till she’d had her say. “How many lives do you have to save before you forgive yourself for not saving my father? Twenty? Thirty? How many for Meggie?”
Was she right? Had he been doing penance for not being good enough? For living when Meggie died? Joe frowned in confusion. “I don’t know. I just need to deal with this my own way. I never meant to hurt you.”
“I know. But don’t you think we’ve hurt enough?”
Gianna’s bright face was full of hope and caring. Was she giving him a second chance? His heart lifted, then crashed. He wasn’t sure he could change. He bowed his head, his voice a harsh whisper. “I don’t want to hurt you again.”
“You won’t.”
How could she be so confident? He couldn’t be. Geez, she scared the shit out of him. He couldn’t stand hurting her again. He’d proved to be a piss-poor bodyguard, but he could make sure he didn’t cause her further pain. “I’m sorry.”

My Book Review:

If you are a fan of romantic suspense novels that provide enough thrills and chills that will keep you on your toes, guessing, and sitting on the edge of your seat, then look no further, Silent Sentry by author Theresa Rizzo is the book for you!

Set in Detroit, Michigan and told in the third person narrative, the author weaves a riveting tale that follows Nurse / medical technology entrepreneur Gianna Donnatelli and Dr. Joe Scarfili as they try to outwit a psychotic hacker before he destroys Gianna's business and possibly their lives.

Gianna and Joe are longtime childhood friends, their families have always lived by the code “Family takes care of family.”

Gianna has developed a program that could revolutionize medical care. Once the patent is issued, the program will go on the market, but someone wants the program for themselves. There are break-ins and numerous attempts on Gianna's life that lands her in the hospital, where she runs into Joe, who is a prominent surgeon. Gianna had a crush on Joe when she was a teen, but they had gone their separate ways when they became adults, and Joe met and married his now dead wife Meggie. Joe wants to protect Gianna from further harm, but as their relationship blossoms, past issues with emotional pain keep rising to the surface and he fights the urge to run. But as the violence against Gianna mounts, it will take both of them to try to figure out who's behind the violence and the attempts at ruining her business.

I really enjoyed reading this compelling and complex romantic suspense story. It had a good balance of suspense and romance that easily kept me engaged and turning the pages as I followed Gianna and Joe's journey to put the puzzle together and solve the mystery. This is definitely one of those stories that is very hard to put down.

Silent Sentry is a fast paced and riveting tale that has an intriguing mixture of drama, romance, family secrets, betrayal, suspense, and enough thrilling twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing to the surprising conclusion.



  1. Thanks for the wonderful review, Kathleen! So glad you enjoyed Silent Sentry!

    1. Hi Theresa! Thank you for the opportunity to feature Silent Sentry on my blog. I really enjoyed reading the book! :)