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Black Ties & Lullabies    by Jane Graves order for
Black Ties & Lullabies
by Jane Graves
Order:  USA  Can
Forever, 2011 (2011)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

The only reason personal bodyguard Bernadette Hogan stays on software mogul Jeremy Bridges' payroll is for the money - she needs it for the future care of her mother, in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Bernie figures she earns every penny of her very generous salary too. Doesn't she put up with Bridges' endless taunts and jibes about her womanhood and his annoying claims that her sense of humour is MIA? And if she has to tag along to one more charity event and keep a beady eye on her boss while he smoothly sweet-talks and ultimately beds yet another vacuous, big-breasted blonde, she's going to spit nails.

Once she accompanies Bridges and his latest conquest back to his sprawling mansion, however, Bernie's radar tells her something's off about the tall, willowy blonde: she's a little too smart and a little too focused on other things besides seeing how quickly she can get Jeremy out of his Armani suit. Faster than Bernie can say freeze, the bimbo has a gun levelled at her boss's heart and is demanding he open his safe and hand over the cash. Bernie manages to get the upper hand and quickly herds Jeremy into his safe room - then unfortunately for Jeremy, she loses her professional cool less than a second after he blithely says, 'Well, that was fun ...'

Moments later, they're having fast, angry sex, and moments after that a humiliated Bernie announces she's quitting. She flees the safe room only to learn a few weeks later that she's pregnant. Convinced that Jeremy Bridges would make a 'lousy father', she demands he sign away all rights to his child. Jeremy, however, has other ideas. Before long, he and Bernie are attending pre-natal classes and doing a lot more than just exchanging their usual round of insults.

Despite a clichéd set-up (heroine gets pregnant due to condom failure) and Bernie's seemingly overnight metamorphosis from ultimate female badass to teary-eyed girly girl, Graves presents another enjoyable and often humorous contemporary romance as Bernie and Jeremy walk their very rocky and often funny road to parenthood. A couple of the secondary characters, particularly Bernie's security firm colleague Max (who goes from being the strong silent type to suffering from verbal diarrhoea when Bernie needs a little emotional back-up) add additional zest to this enjoyable, breezy summer romance.

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