Grown-up tomboy Bernadette “Bernie” Hogan is an ex-military, solid, no-nonsense kind of woman. Her profession for the past two years has been a personal bodyguard to self made millionaire and womanizer Jeremy Bridges. Naturally, Bernie has little tolerance to Jeremy’s shallow way of life and therefore is bold in expressing her opinion of his overall lack of character. Jeremy has never looked twice at Bernie, especially to recognize her as anything beyond a controlling and opinionated employee. After returning from one of the latest social galas, both Jeremy and Bernie find themselves in the middle of a robbery in his home and both end up in his safe room awaiting back up. Bernie is furious that Jeremy did not heed her warning with regard to his safety; Jeremy is frustrated that she was right. What starts as an argument leads to full out anger sex. After the incident, Bernie informs Jeremy that she is quitting her job as his bodyguard and will not be coming back. Jeremy is flabbergasted at what happened between them and firmly believes that with what he is paying her, she will definitely return to him once she has cooled off. Bernie does not return, but instead discovers that their unexpected sexual liaison has led her to an unplanned pregnancy, so she is far from being rid of Jeremy. As the pregnancy progresses, Jeremy is determined to prove to Bernie that he intends to be a dependable father to his children and that he is not the shallow, uncaring playboy Bernie believes him to be.
Author Jane Graves paints a clear picture of a woman (Bernie) who appears very strong and intimidating on the outside, but in truth is very caring and somewhat insecure on the inside. Bernie has a deep love for her mother who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and thus does without in order to save money for her mother’s future care. She is determined to not have to depend on anyone but herself with regard to her family. However, she longs for the fantasy of a devoted husband to love and help care for her children. As Jeremy becomes more involved in Bernie’s life throughout the pregnancy, we learn more about his difficult past, how hard he has worked to get to where he is and how truly caring, dependable and selfless he can be.
Black Ties and Lullabies* proves to be your typical, fluffy, and predictable contemporary read. The loves scenes were low on the sizzle factor, but the transformation of the characters and how they adapted to change and growth was relevant and believable. In addition, Ms. Graves adds flavorful, quirky secondary characters which provided flair and reality to both Bernie and Jeremy’s lives. The overall pace confirmed the story was headed to a cookie cutter “wrapped in a bow” HEA. While I tend to seek more depth in character and plot with contemporary romances, many will find this story to be just enough to satisfy and provide a warm fuzzy after thought in their reading escape.
“If there was one thing Bernie hated, it was seeing somebody like Charmin screw people who couldn’t help themselves. Evidently that was the kind of person you turned into when your mother named you after toilet paper.”
*This review is based on the Black Ties and Lullabies ARC released in December 2010 before initial publication was delayed.
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