I keep meaning to explain how I do my b&w's since you asked and I keep forgetting.. sorry! I don't think it's anything special but I really enjoy them and I get alot of compliments on them. I do them differently depending on the image and sometimes I'll try one way and if I don't like the results I'll start over and try the other way.
1.) this way is really simple. I run pioneer womans "b&w beauty". Then I open up the action once it's done it's thing and it has a layer called "boost" and I turn it off and do a levels layer and adjust the left slider to around 15-19 usually (depending on the image and I just play with it till it looks like I want it), then sometimes the middle slider to the left.. if it makes any part of the image too bright, you can mask it back in. Then I do a curves layer and pull the middle up and down slightly until it looks like I want it too (usually somewhere around 130ish and 98ish). Then I add a contrast layer and add just enough to see it.. around 8ish usually does the trick without overdoing it.. you can always mask any parts in that don't look right and also adjust the opacity of the layers. Then I go back to the boost layer from the action and play with the opacity until it looks like I want it.. some i only use about 25ish % and some I like 100%... if your image is already on the bright side, you mayhve to mask parts of the bright spots. Once I get it where I like it.. I flatten it and then run just the standard Sepia toning layer/action that came with cs4. I change the saturation slider to around 8-10 and then play with the opacity of the layer until I get the effect I want.. usually around 20-30%.. not too much, but enough to give the skin "tone".
2.) I process as I normally would (curves, levels, contrast and then eyes and skin softening or blemish control as usual).. then make sure your black swatch is on top, go to layers, adjustment layer, gradient map. Then I just make adjustments using levels and curves if needed and do some masking where needed and then add the sepia toning layer same as above.
I like my b&w's to really pop and not have that "muddy" look so I really play with the shadows and contrast while making my adjustments and i like the skin to look "creamy". Sometimes I will add a very slight vignette at a low opacity and set at overlay for the mode.
Thats it really.