Hot Wheels & High Heels

I Got You, Babe

Light My Fire

Black Ties and Lullabies
by Jane Graves
(Grand Central, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0446-56847-0
Sometimes an author comes up with a story that breaks all the rules and still works. This is one of those stories. The story starts off with a sarcastic snide woman who is a tomboy. Bernadette Hogan, aka Bernie grew up the only child of a police officer. She hunted, fished, learned to play basketball and despite her mother's best effort, never understood the allure of dressing up, wearing makeup or just being pampered. When her father died when she was a teenager, her efforts to make him proud doubled. She joined the police force and finally a security firm, where she was embraced as "one of the guys." Her best friend was also a co-worker. Max knew she was a woman, but following her lead, he treated her as the strong self-assured person she was. Yet in his own way, he protected her.

Max found he had to really protect Bernie when her life went slightly awry. Bernie has a cushy assignment. She protects a multi-millionaire playboy who is a self-made man. Jeremy Bridges grew up in poverty and did everything he could to make money. He has no family and is determined to show everyone from his past that he could be somebody. He has it all. He goes from woman to woman and every one of those women is glamorous, beautiful and empty-headed looking for his money alone. Bernie follows him everywhere and attended every charity event and fancy society gala he did. Her job is to protect him from kidnapping or other nefarious acts. Jeremy and Bernie have a funny relationship. They are obviously employer and employee, yet they have a familiarity that only comes from spending so much time together. Bernie is not afraid to comment on Jeremy's choices and he enjoys their almost antagonistic banter. And Bernie never crosses the line of interfering with his women.

Until one night when all her vibes are singing that something isn't right. A woman had been outside his house and then outside a restaurant where Jeremy has a business meeting. Now she is at this gala and while at first glance, she fits in, she is just a little too made up and her dress isn't quite the height of fashion.

Jeremy shrugs off Bernie's concerns and decides to take the woman home with him. After dropping him off, Bernie can't shake off the feeling - and did some checking on her iPhone. When the story seems to fall apart, Bernie goes back into the house and luckily breaks up the beginning of a robbery attempt. She gets Jeremy into a locked safe room when she notices the lady's partners coming up the drive in a truck.

While waiting for the police, passions grow high and Jeremy makes love to Bernie. Not that Bernie resists. All of her life shehoped that someone would see her as a woman, and when Jeremy come on to her, she just lets it happen. One month later, she is pregnant and her life is a mess.

She decides to confront Jeremy to get him to sign papers to stay out of her life...she doesn't want money or anything - just full custody. But Jeremy can't let it go. He remembers life growing up without a father and is not going to lose the one chance he has to possibly be there for someone like his parents never were.

The story that follows is filled with fun, anxiety, introspection, and two people fighting their feelings. Neither ever does what the other anticipates and they start to realize that even though they had spent a lot of time together, they really didn't know or understand the other. Jeremy is much more than the hard-hearted businessman he puts on as his defense personality.

Bernie has a mother with Alzheimer's and plenty of issues that she hides well from friends and others alike. Their relationship builds due to their shared pending parenthood and ultimately, they each get what they want. And Max and Bernie's other friends come to her rescue until they figure out that Jeremy is a guy that will treat her right.

Jane Graves has written a story that is predictable at times and totally unpredictable at others. Jeremy has an amazing amount of depth; hidden in his hard head is a man with a lot of love to give. Bernie is a woman who has not had it easy, even if she made it look easy. She too has a lot to give and it is fun watching her figure out that she can also take and it will be okay.

Black Ties and Lullabies tries to be a light-hearted romantic comedy but underneath is a story of two people who really deserve a nice love story to make their lives full. Savor it.

--Shirley Lyons

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