For a long time, in fiction and in real life, we behaved as if only one model existed for heterosexual relationships: Women got into distress over the gosh-darned silliest little things, and big strong manly men needed to come along and save them.

The old model assumes women are incompetent and men have the answers to everything.

I’m not a fan. I prefer my women strong and self-assured and my men smart enough to understand they’re not required to ram their heads against every roadblock until they break through.

But I do like to speculate. What would a new relationship model look like? What if the heroine is legitimately in distress and can’t see how to save herself? What role does the hero play if he’s not her rescuer?

In Her Shirtless Gentleman, Eleanora and Rob are finding the answers.

Eleanora has left behind a wreck of a marriage. Reeling from her ex-husband’s betrayal, she’s daily confronted with the truth in small ways. Trying to move on is tough when every step feels like a slog through chest-high muck. After sinking for so many years, Eleanora’s working hard to uncover pieces of herself lost along the way.

Rob’s a smart guy, a strong guy — a hero guy. Growing up on a family farm, he learned to find quick and lasting fixes before minor inconveniences became major disasters. He joined the Air Force out of high school because he wanted to use his know-how to keep others safe. When he sees a problem, he tracks the trouble to its source, finds the solution, and implements it.

But Eleanora’s troubles can’t be fixed by Rob swooping in and saving the day. What she needs from him isn’t orders to tell her what to do or her ex-husband knocked out and bleeding.

Together, Eleanora and Rob are building new paths where equal partners share the load. For Rob, that means letting go of the urge to jump in too fast and solve Eleanora’s problems. For Eleanora, that means working out who she wants to be — and how she can get from the timid woman she’s become back to the confident woman she dimly remembers being before her ex-husband started burying her.

What she needs from Rob is what we all need: support, not rescue. A man who understands that a woman who walks beside him, demonstrating her own strength, doesn’t diminish his importance in her life. He can show her the tools he’s found in his own life, and he can encourage her to use them, but the project isn’t his. Trading her ex-husband’s belittlement for Rob’s protectiveness doesn’t gain Eleanora anything if she’s still valuing herself by how others treat her.

Eleanora doesn’t need to be rescued. She needs to be loved. And as she’s learning to love herself again, Rob knows what that looks like.

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Sometimes, even the old models are keepers.


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.

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About M.Q. Barber

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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