Saturday, July 9, 2011

Legs (A Steamy Contemporary Romance) by Harper Alibeck

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Whose romance are you reliving 100 years later?

A chance encounter on a mundane morning bus commute leads history scholars Jill Knowles and Seth Hines into a spontaneous, uninhibited romantic encounter that leaves both reeling -- and destined for more.

Determined to become a respected historian in her field, Jill's entire career path is thrown off by a love that seems like deja vu. Meanwhile, Seth has wanted Jill since the first day they met, nearly two years ago. When she makes the first, unexpected move he leaps -- and falls far harder than he ever planned.

But Seth has a secret that will keep them apart, and when Jill finds out she turns her razor-sharp mind against him by day, yet channels her anger into passion-filled nights. Archives in Toronto, Canada and Santiago, Chile hold the key to their reunion, but Jill and Seth may be too late when each discovers the same century-old secret that could bring them together -- or tear them apart forever.

Fans of "Dead Again," "Somewhere in Time" and Possession may enjoy the ride as as Legs covers three continents, two centuries, and one fiery journey of two souls destined to make history together.

Legs is a full-length novel of 50,000 words with two excerpts at the end: a preview of a prequel for Legs, and a section from Arms, the next book in the "A Romance of the Body" series.


Mocha almond fudge never announced it was moving to South America for a year. Mocha almond fudge never declared it was gay and leaving her. A spoon, a pint, and a good Hugh Grant movie was enough. Eventually she'd add a vibrator of some kind; she wasn't afraid to have a battery-operated boyfriend. It, like ice cream, was always there when she needed it and didn't talk back.

After the fiasco at the department meeting, Jill had slept in her advisor's office for three hours. She'd dragged herself home on the bus, blinking back tears and focusing on her breathing to keep the headache at bay.

She finished drying her hair with the towel and threw it on the floor, carefully untangling her long, brown hair with a wide-mouthed comb. What a wasted day. The sleepless night, destroyed by her recurring dream, and her one day to bask in the acknowledgement of winning the Munson had been hijacked by her ravenous encounter with Seth. The emotional high and the ripening of possibilities with him made the day so perfect. Then, all of it, destroyed by his skulking, his lie by omission.

She shouldn't be so upset. She zeroed in an on old strategy from high school: self-pampering followed by plenty of ice cream. She'd bathed in bubble bath, shaved and plucked, used a mud mask and painted her fingernails and toenails a nice light pink. Never a girly-girl, these were part of her friends' activities, but she grudgingly admitted to herself that she felt better. As she'd bathed and washed away the sex, rinsing all traces of his body, his passion, she'd teared up–but wouldn't let herself cry. She soaked out the anxiety, part of getting control again. Leaving for Toronto in two months would complete her process to achieve order.

Briefly, she wondered if she were overreacting. Was she making more of this than it really was? Was she writing Seth off prematurely? He'd be gone for eleven months. If this were–longshot of longshots–meant to be, couldn't they try to make it work from a distance?

She laughed bitterly as the thought went through her mind. For nearly two years she'd seen relationships end–even long marriages involving kids–when one person went overseas for dissertation research. The long hours in the archive, the new friends. The growth that comes from mastering a new language in context, and the exotic feeling of becoming involved with a native from the country all wrapped up into one neat package why so many grad students were eager to do a year abroad for study. It was a rite of passage to go away and come home with notches on your belt. Once in a while the men even came home with fiancées or wives.

Jill's face hardened and she dug into her ice cream, grabbed the remote, and pushed “play” to start her movie.

Then someone knocked on her apartment door.

About Harper Alibeck

HARPER ALIBECK is a former history professor who has published eight books and whose work has appeared in 17 others. She is also a National Book Critics Circle member, with reviews published online and in academic journals. In recent years her interests turned toward contemporary and historical romance -- but with a twist. Research for Legs included a trip to Santiago, Chile and Alibeck maintains that the best meal comes from a street vendor selling empañadas after a night of dancing and pisco sours in a Santiago jazz club.

Interview with Harper Alibeck

What will readers like about your book?

Legs is a contemporary romance with a touch of the paranormal and historical. It's set in the U.S. (Cleveland, Ohio), Canada (Toronto) and in Chile (Santiago). The reader gets a heavy dose of Santiago, Chile as part of the story; I spent time there as a historian doing research and incorporated many elements into the novel. In addition, the paranormal/reincarnation (ish) element in Legs is an interesting twist on the modern romance. While Legs is not a romantic comedy, there's a fair bit of humor in it, and the sex scenes are, ahem, steamy (with an event in two scenes that isn't normally covered in romance -- you have to read it to understand what I mean!). A prequel is coming this fall to give more of the backstory on Lilith and James (the 1910s couple whose romance Jill and Seth are reliving).

Why did you self publish?

I started writing romance and decided that because Legs (and future books in the A Romance of the Body series) defies any one specific sub genre in the romance field, I'd have a hard time placing it with a traditional publisher. It's a contemporary romance with paranormal and historical elements. I was at the Romance Writers of America conference in June and when I described it to a fellow member she said, "Add in YA and you've covered everything!" So it's hard to describe, and self-publishing seemed the way to go.

It's professionally edited by editors who have worked with Big 6 publishers, vetted by 11 beta readers, and the cover design is from a company that produces for Big 6 publishers as well. I've put a huge amount of thought and care into producing a book that meets the standards of traditional publishing.

What is your writing process?

I have three boys ranging in age from 12 to 1. I write by the skin of my teeth. Oh, to have the luxury of a set schedule! Most of my writing takes place from 6am to 8am or on weekends. I tend to write in great bursts -- 6,000 words at a time, then nothing, then 4,000 words, and so on. Ideally, I'd write 1,000 words every day, but I need to wait until my youngest is off to school for that to happen.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?

Legs took 10 weeks. The first draft was 38,000 words.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Years ago, I watched the Christopher Reeve/Jane Seymour movie "Somewhere in Time." I saw it repeatedly on cable as a young teen and fell in love with the idea that sometimes love can transcend time. I also have a strong belief that sometimes love isn't finished. Perhaps that's where the idea of "soulmates" originates. I'm fortunate to have found my soulmate in my husband, and we're often struck by how...otherworldly our connection can be. 

I'm a historian and one day it hit me: what if two historians were writing about two completely different historical characters, fell in love, and then discovered they were reliving a past romance? The idea appealed to my sense of love and also my sense of history. 

Teaching college-level history courses for more than 17 years and writing for academic publishers is a great basis for writing these books. Add in a Chilean component -- having James seek his fortune in the saltpeter mining industry, of all things, and Seth research it all 100 years later in Santiago -- and the story was a perfect fit for my debut romance novel.

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