If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde
We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. - B. F. Skinner
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. - Mary Wortley Montagu

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Review: Her Shirtless Gentleman by M.Q. Barber / @pumpupyourbook @mqbarber

Title: Her Shirtless Gentleman
Author: M.Q. Barber
Publisher: Kensington Publishing: Lyrical Shine
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
ARC Received From: 
Reviewed For: Pump Up Your Book

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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…

Eleanora's insecurities stem from years of emotional abuse by her ex-husband, leaving her a virgin even though she isn't one. She flounders in the dating pool, unsure of how to test the waters and move forward. But her uncertainty isn't the problem. The memories of her ex, his voice, his ridicule, his demands, are the problem.

She hears him when she shouldn't, and those moments tape her mouth closed and make her brain shut down. As if she's a robot or a slave, someone who needs permission to do, speak or think for herself.

Rob sees those things. He notices the way she holds back, the embarrassment she feels when she feels others are watching, criticizing. But he also sees a woman eager to break free of the chains her ex bound her with. He sees a passionate woman that any decent man would love to come home to, talk to, make love to. He sees in her the woman he's wanted since his teenage years, the woman who'll stand beside him and build a home and family with him.

But they have to deal with her past first and the break the hold it has on her.

That takes patience from both. Give and take. For Rob, that's how it's always supposed to be. For Eleanora, that's now how it always was. Learning to give as well as take requires reprogramming her brain because, as Rob thought it:
...he wouldn't have her thinking of herself as a tradeoff. A burger and fries for a night fondling her tits. A steak with wine for her lips around his dick. (ARC, Kindle, Page 47)
The passion between them lukewarm at first. It grows as they spent time together, explore one another. But the culmination of this story isn't when they finally have sex. It's when Eleanora confronts her past, lets the ghosts out of the master bedroom, puts her ex in his place. The freedom she experiences jumps off the page and I laughed at how joyful she was to finally be rid of those awful chains.

I can't guarantee if you will enjoy this story as much as I did. Eleanora's timidity might be irritating to those looking for a strong heroine. Rob's old-fashioned ideals might not be what some consider an alpha trait. I'll admit, I wasn't sure those traits would appeal to me--I'm usually submerged in stories about women who speak their mind and men who take charge--but I'm happy to say they did. I was reminded that a timid woman can be strong when the right man lends her his strength, that a modern-day old-fashioned man is sometimes what a woman needs to remember she is more than just a warm body to lay with.

Lovely story, Ms. Barber. I hope to read more of whatever you plan to write.

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.

Her advice? Get a solid grounding in how language works, and then just write. Write every idea that comes along, even if it’s just a single line. You never know which line is the start of a thread that leads to a novel.

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

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