Monday, August 15, 2011

Book review: Black Ties and Lullabies by author Jane Graves

Book review by Sarah


Back of the Book Blurb:

A good girl can be bad for one night...

Bernadette Hogan doesn't make mistakes. Not when it comes to caring for her mother, and not at her job protecting Texas's most eligible—and infuriating—bachelor. Maybe that's why she's overcome with guilt after one tiny indiscretion: a passionate fling with her boss that's left her confused, intrigued...and pregnant.

but can a bad boy be good for a lifetime?

To self-made millionaire Jeremy Bridges, women are like fine wine: if held for too long, they sour. But one wild night with Bernadette changed all that. She makes him laugh, she makes him think, and soon she's going to make him a father. For the first time, Jeremy wants to be a one-woman man. So how can he convince the fiercely independent Bernadette he's ready to change from partying playboy to dependable dad—and become the loving husband she deserves?


This is a sparkling and romantic fairy tale, and I read it in two sittings (which is rare, as I have small children who demand meals and supervision on occasion). It's very much a modern Cinderella/Pretty Woman (she saves him right back!) tale combined with the Ugly Duckling (our heroine is not just plain, she's nearly invisible). Bernie, is a top notch bodyguard who has spent the last two years protecting the very handsome, very wealthy, and very shallow womanizer Jeremy Bridges. Bernie has no respect for Jeremy and his string of vapid, siliconed, look-alike babesicles. But she is not immune to his good looks, charm and intense focus. Jeremy, however, has immense respect for Jane. He loves that she is honest with him, enjoys their sarcastic banter, and appreciates her extreme professional competence, intelligence and wit. But he has never looked at her as a woman.

But everything is about to change.

One night Jeremy ignores Bernie's warnings and finds himself being robbed in his own home. Bernie returns to save the arrogant playboy, and successfully gets him into the safe room and calls the police. But after two years of putting up with his cavalier attitude, Jeremy's disregard for her suspicions have driven Bernie over the edge and she quits and gives him a piece of her mind. In the middle of a heated, angry argument, sexual attraction sparks flare and they have incredible, explosive sex. After which, Bernie walks out, because while she's attracted to him she still doesn't like or respect him. I loved this scene - a self-respecting heroine who can admit to her sexuality and attraction but is not controlled by it! Needless to say, control-freak Jeremy is shocked that he is the one walked out on. Bernie can't be persuaded, cajoled or paid to come back. Her moral integrity and strength of character are refreshing, and they intrigue Jeremy, almost as much as the memory of the incredible sex he had with Bernie.

In a few weeks, though, Bernie is back to inform Jeremy that she is pregnant and wants him to sign away all rights to his baby. Much to Bernie's shock, Jeremy decides he wants to be a father, and at this point the story is about the two of them getting to know each other. Turns out that both of them are more than just their stereotypical appearances of rich playboy and plain tough girl. As Shrek would say, they are like onions - they have layers. And beneath these layers we discover that both have had tough lives and are more alike than they realized.

As much as I liked this story, I got really annoyed by the constant commentary concerning the unattractiveness of Bernie. Everyone is shocked - SHOCKED - that Jeremy had sex with her, and frankly this got old. I'm as sick of the siliconed, Botoxed, Barbie-fembot version of female beauty as the next girl, but nothing nice was said about Bernie's appearance until Jeremy, now madly in love, explained she had perfect skin and beautiful hair and a nice ass. How about calling her pretty, Romeo? And how come the narrator couldn't toss Bernie a bone and describe some attractive aspect of her? On the flip side, Bernie is so against "girly" stuff that she may as well be a guy. Her abhorrence for anything beyond basic hygiene and jeans and t-shirts was enough to make me question if there was another stereotype at play here. But as much as these issues bugged me, I kept reading until the happy, problem-solving, family-creating end, because the author is such a skilled storyteller. The narrative, the sparkling, witty dialogue, and the colorful secondary characters created a very enjoyable, happy escape. And isn't that what we want in a romance?

3.5 Modokker Book Pick Stars

About the Author:

Jane Graves is the author of seventeen contemporary romance novels. She is a seven-time finalist for Romance Writers of America's Rita Award, the industry's highest honor, and is the recipient of two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Booksellers' Best Award, and the Golden Quill, among others. Jane lives in the Dallas area with her husband of twenty-eight years and a very sweet kitty who kindly keeps her lap warm while she writes.

You can visit Jane's website at , or write to her at


  1. Sarah
    This was sounding good til you get to the end lol Might be worth a shot anyway. Sometimes the details are driven home a little to hard.


  2. I know! But I couldn't stop reading. Even towards the end, when I was mad at the author and the hero, the writing was so good, and the characters so well drawn that I cared about what happened. I think you'd enjoy it:-)