Obviously I can’t say no to revealing the cover of a book that has a major character with my name, but when a book sounds as good as the supernatural thriller Unrelenting by Jessi Honard and Marie Parks, which releases on April 19, 2022 from Not a Pipe Publishing and has an ace MC, why would I want to?? Here’s the story:
A glowing symbol painted on a crumbling wall.
Sentient smoke that chokes and burns.
An ancient magic, long hidden from the world.
Bridget’s most important job has always been protecting her younger sister, Dahlia. But as adults, Dahlia pushes her away, determined to live her own life.
Then, Dahlia vanishes. When her car is found submerged in the river, the authorities tell Bridget to prepare for the worst. Nine months later, everyone has given up hope.
Everyone except Bridget.
When a former classmate of Dahlia’s comes forward with a new lead, Bridget takes matters into her own hands. She ignores the dismissive detective’s warnings and launches her own amateur investigation.
The search leads Bridget to something far more sinister than a typical missing persons case—a carefully-guarded plot tied to powerful, age-old magic. To uncover the truth of what happened to her sister, Bridget must confront this dangerous world, even if it means putting her own life on the line.
And here’s the cover, illustrated by Gigi Little!
But wait, there’s more! Read on for an excerpt of Unrelenting!
“Ms. Keene?” It was the officer at the front desk. The fluorescent lights of the police station gave his skin a too-bright pallor, especially compared with the evening gloom outside. “Detective Ivanova is ready for you. Come on through the metal detector.”
Her legs felt stiff as she stood from the hard plastic chair and handed her purse to him. He gave the inside of her bag a cursory glance before returning it to her. “Through those doors, second room on the left.”
Bridget nodded, though the officer was already turning back to his phone. Typical. They’ve got a missing person case on their hands, and all he can do is play games.
She let herself through and into a high-ceilinged hallway, the sound of her boots bouncing off the sterile white walls. Most of the offices were closed for the night. The room she was looking for, however, was lit up.
Bridget stopped outside and watched Detective Ivanova at her computer, focused on the screen. She was a thin, short woman with high cheekbones and dark hair pulled back into a tight bun. She was young for a detective, and she wore a permanent scowl. Her simple cardigan and slacks gave her an air of harmlessness, but Bridget knew better.
She cleared her throat, and the detective looked up. “Sit down, Ms. Keene,” she said in a severe voice before turning back to the computer.
Bridget took the empty seat opposite the desk. “Thanks for meeting me tonight.” She set her purse on her lap.
“Could’ve waited until morning,” Detective Ivanova pointed out, fingers still moving over the keyboard. “You’re not my only case, you know.”
Bridget bristled. “This is important. That video is the first new lead in months.”
The detective finished typing and turned to face her. “Have you learned anything new about it that couldn’t be shared with a simple email? What was so important you got on an airplane?”
Bridget’s shoulders stiffened. She hadn’t come halfway across the country to be dismissed outright. “You haven’t done anything with the lead. I’m here to ask why not.” She looked to a corkboard on the detective’s wall. Ivanova had tacked on news clippings and photographs of other missing persons: an older Black woman, a middle-aged blond man. Along the edge of the board, Dahlia’s section stared Bridget down. She recognized several articles about her sister’s disappearance, pinned alongside her senior picture.
Bridget studied Dahlia’s frozen smile. There was a resemblance between Dahlia and Bridget, but most of it was subtle—the curve of their lips, the shape of their cheekbones, the arch of their eyebrows. As half-sisters, their coloring was completely divergent. Contrasting Dahlia’s dark hair was Bridget’s blond. Brown eyes to blue. Petite frame to tall. Bridget felt like the foil to her sister in so many ways.
The detective spoke again. “We don’t know that it’s your sister in the video. All it showed was a dark-haired girl in an alleyway. Please don’t get your hopes up.”
“It was Dahlia.” Bridget’s fingers tightened around her purse strap. “I want to know when we’re going to investigate.”
The detective scoffed. “We? I’m going in the morning. You’re not going anywhere. I told you not to come back to Cleveland until I sent for you, Ms. Keene. It’s a waste of your time.” There was an implied and mine.
Bridget straightened in her seat. “But I can help.”
“Absolutely not.” Ivanova leaned forward in her seat, hazel eyes narrowing. “Not only is it against regulations, but I’m here to protect you and your mother during this investigation. Let me do my job. Stay away.”
“You can’t keep me from this. The only reason we even have a new lead is because I set up that website.”
The detective sighed in exasperation and dropped her arms to the desk’s surface. “I appreciate your determination, and I know you’re eager for news. If I find anything, I’ll give your mother a call.”
Bridget’s face grew hot. “My mother? I’m the one who sent you the lead. I’m the one who’s been keeping this investigation going.” She pressed a finger down against the desk as her voice rose. “I’m not a child! We’re supposed to be in this together. Aren’t you on my side?”
Ivanova met her gaze. “Ms. Keene, please calm yourself. Of course I’m on your side.”
“But you’re not listening. Dahlia needs me.”
“Ms. Keene, it’s hard to lose a loved one. I know. And I assure you, I will follow this lead. Something may come of it, or it could be another dead end. Regardless, you are not the detective here. You’re slowing down my investigation. All of them.” She pointed to the board.
I’m the one pushing you on, Bridget thought, fists clenching. “I didn’t lose her. And if you’d let me help—”
“No. End of discussion.” Ivanova reached into her desk and pulled out a notepad, pushing it towards Bridget. “Write down the dates you’re in town. I’ll be in touch tomorrow afternoon.”
Angry tears burned Bridget’s eyes as she wrote down the information and shoved the pad across the desk. It was clear from Detective Ivanova’s expression that their brief meeting was at an end.
Bridget lurched to her feet. “It was Dahlia in that video. I know it.”
Ivanova took the notepad. “I’ll keep you up to date,” she said, voice level. Her eyes turned back to her computer screen.
Bridget struggled to bite back a retort. She stalked out of the office, past closed office doors. It was all too obvious that Ivanova, like everyone else, had written Dahlia off.
Bridget was the only one who still cared. The only one who still hoped. She was finished with fighting red tape and dismissive detectives.
Cold, damp air slapped her cheeks as she stepped into the night. She cinched her jacket around herself. I will find my sister, she thought. And I’ll do it my way.
Jessi Honard and Marie Parks are best friends, hiking and camping buddies, and unabashed nerds. They’ve been co-writing speculative fiction since 2009, and their 2022 contemporary fantasy debut, Unrelenting, was a finalist in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished Manuscript contest. Jessi lives in the Bay Area of California with her partner, Taormina, and Marie lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.