Monday, November 23, 2015

Taking a (Giant) Leap

The craziest, most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done is take an unexpected trip to Rio de Janeiro to jump off a cliff. 

I was a junior in college and studying abroad in northeastern Brazil, and I had the chance to tack on an extra six weeks of travel after the program ended. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I’d had a bit of a romantic entanglement in one city I’d visited, and we’d kept in touch as my program took me other places. When Romantic Entanglement (RE) invited me to come back, it seemed as good an idea as any. 

One afternoon I was flipping through my Lonely Planet guide, killing time before a phone call I’d scheduled with RE to confirm my visit, when I saw an inset about hang gliding in Rio. I’m not big on heights. Jumping into water, even from the edge of a pool, terrifies me. But I had this moment that felt partly like an epiphany and partly like a punch in the gut. 

Why had I committed to going back to a city I already knew, to visit someone I wasn’t in love with, when there was a whole world waiting for me—a world symbolized, in that moment, by wings soaring over the sea? 

I didn’t know how to get out of my commitment to RE. At the time, it didn’t really occur to me that I had that choice. But in the end it was RE who let me off the hook. I called when I said I would, only to find out that I maybe shouldn’t come to visit because there was maybe sort of almost a hundred percent definitely another girlfriend coming to visit at the same time. (It was suggested that I come later instead, an invitation I not so politely declined.)

In HOW TO FALL, the heroine, Julia, realizes that she didn’t come to Brazil to meet someone, and that she really is okay traveling on her own. Julia and I are different in a lot of ways, but her moment of realization stems directly from the time when I was twenty-one and suddenly found myself with six weeks in Brazil and zero plans.

But I’d traveled alone before, and I’m pretty good at winging it. I took a bus to Salvador, then São Paulo (36 hours!), and then to the waterfalls where my hero and heroine meet. I attended the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. I volunteered for a group of scientists and cleaned dolphin skulls with a toothbrush (perhaps a story for another time). I spent a week in Rio over New Year’s with friends. And you’d better believe I jumped off that cliff, hollering all the way down. 

What’s the craziest, most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done? Share in the comments!  


Julia had never been with a stranger. Never had a one-night stand. Ever since the summer after her senior year in high school, when Liz discovered what could happen when boys said I love you, Julia had been so, so careful not to get hurt, physically as well as emotionally. But if she’d ever wondered whether there was some piece missing, now she knew exactly what it was.

Because she’d never felt herself fall apart like this, her whole body unraveling from the feel of his strong arms circling her waist and pulling her close as his lips found hers. It was everything she’d felt in the cab, everything she’d let run through her mind as she lay awake. Everything she’d never before let herself dream.

She couldn’t stop kissing him. Literally could not. There could be an earthquake, a fire, an explosion—who would notice? The whole world could come crashing down and it wouldn’t be enough for her to pull away. She’d always wondered what other people were talking about when they got that misty look in their eyes, going on about passion and fireworks and how just kissing someone could make them entirely melt.

Now she knew. There seemed to be a direct line from her lips to her thighs, because the deeper Blake kissed her the more she felt it all the way down.

Her hips pressed hard against his. Ordinarily she would have felt self-conscious about so obviously signaling her desires. But that little voice she always carried around—the one that watched everything while recording a tally of all her rights and wrongs—was oddly silent now.

Or maybe that was the same voice making an unholy chorus of pants and whimpers in Blake’s ear. When he slid his palm under the cup of her bikini, the feeling of skin on skin made her moan. It felt so good that Julia bucked her hips forward and widened her legs around his waist. How could she be this breathless when they were still—technically—clothed?

How to Fall

One week of adventure might just lead to love…

Julia Evans has always put others ahead of herself—her high school math students, her troubled best friend, and her ex. But with New Year's approaching, she buys a round trip ticket to Brazil. For one week, she can put her needs first. She can meet a stranger in the hotel pool at midnight and dance all night on the beach.

Screenwriter Blake Williams has to keep moving before Oz’s latest scandal catches up to him. But the dark-haired beauty with a backpack and an adventurous streak is messing with his plans. He can’t seem to walk away from her. But secrets have a way of coming out, and when the week is up, Julia and Blake will have to decide if they’re jumping into the biggest adventure of all or playing it safe.

Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them. She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to a cold beer and her hot husband in the Bronx.

Find Rebecca on Facebook [], Twitter [], Instagram [] and Google+ []. Check out her books and sign up for her newsletter at

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