For God’s Sake, Just Talk it Out

HerShirtlessGentlemanBY M.Q. BARBER

You know that feeling when you’re reading a book and the characters won’t talk to each other? Their whole problem could be solved with a five-minute conversation, but they’re being stubborn idiots endangering the lives of people around you who might be hit by a flying projectile at any second. (Not to mention the hole in the wall or the cracked screen on your e-reader.)

I hate that feeling.

I loathe it so much that I prefer to crack the characters’ skulls together first and see what shakes out. They don’t get to avoid that conversation without a damned good reason.

Intelligent people should be able to talk to each other. When they can’t, they need compelling emotional reasons tugging at them from both sides, balancing them on the harsh point between living in fear and secrecy forever or spilling their guts and hoping their confession makes life better instead of worse.

Because I’m super-mean, that excruciating decision is where I’ve left Eleanora, the heroine of Her Shirtless Gentleman. But because I’m also not a monster, I’ve given her Rob, the hero, to help her find the safest way through.

For too many years, Eleanora lived in what she believed was a good marriage. She rationalized away the uncomfortable parts, the times when she felt belittled and ashamed, until the betrayal became so blatant she couldn’t look away. When her imagined happiness crumbled, she made the hard choice to get divorced and walk away from the years in which she’d devoted everything to her marriage.

But the effort demanded so much from her. And after all that time neglecting her own needs, she almost doesn’t know how to hear them anymore. She’s still drowning with the weight of failure and self-doubt chained to her ankles.

Then she meets Rob.

Every time Eleanora decides to trust Rob, she’s building her courage. And every time Rob responds with grace and compassion — and maybe even a confession or two of his own — he makes the next step easier.

The conversation isn’t one little outburst that makes all of their problems go away. That’s too simple, isn’t it? Human beings aren’t wired to change their behavior after one exposure. We form habits.

Falling in love is that revelatory conversation as an ongoing, cumulative truth. Every day, we make each other better by greeting our partners with our sincere interest in their well-being. Some days, we make mistakes, and we apologize, and we try again the next day. But we keep going back, we keep trying to connect, and we keep listening.

The people we love deserve the best from us. That takes commitment. That takes trust. The right person isn’t the one who makes you want to put a hole in the wall. He’s the one who sees the hole and asks if you’re okay.

Just talk it out. Wonderful things happen when you try.


USA Today bestselling author M.Q. Barber likes to get lost in thought. She writes things down so she can find herself again.

Often found staring off into space or frantically scratching words on sticky notes, M.Q. lives with one very tolerant, easily amused husband and one very tolerant, easily amused puppy.

She has a soft spot for romances that explore the inner workings of the heart and mind alongside all that steamy physical exertion. She loves memorable characters, witty banter, and heartfelt emotion in any genre.

The former Midwestern gal is the author of the Neighborly Affection and new Gentleman contemporary romance series. Pick a safeword, grab a partner or two, and jump in.

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Her Shirtless Gentleman

Her heart is in his hands…

After her marriage ends in betrayal, Eleanora Howard finds herself struggling to navigate the dating scene as a thirty-one-year-old divorcee. But feeling undesirable and living alone in the house she once shared with her ex is hardly the recipe for finding new love—until she meets Rob. He’s just the kind of charming, old-fashioned guy she needs—but he’s also eager for intimacy…

After serving in the Air Force and getting a well-paid civilian career, Rob Vanderhoff planned to settle down with the right woman and raise a family. But at thirty-six, he’s still single and searching—until he meets Eleanora. She’s everything he wants. All he has to do is draw her out of her shell. Soon he’s taking her on high school-style dates, fanning the flames of her desire—and helping Nora re-discover the sexy, adventurous woman they both know she really is…

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About the Gentleman series

HER SHIRTLESS GENTLEMAN is the first book in the Gentleman series. Each book is a standalone HEA story with a well-intentioned hero and a strong heroine finding each other on a sweet, erotic journey.

AN ACCIDENTAL GENTLEMAN, the second book in this contemporary romance series, will be available in 2016.

Signing up for the author’s monthly newsletter at will deliver free short stories and updates on upcoming books to your inbox.

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