Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Today's Special - - Miranda Liasson

It's my pleasure to welcome Miranda Liasson to the blog today. I recently read her newest novel, Can't Stop Loving You and my first thought upon completing it was, "Why haven't I read this author before?!?" This new book is a deeply emotional story of second chances laced with sizzle, humor, a fair amount of angst and a whole lot of heart. I loved it, especially the hero, Roman. So romantic! And he has brothers! While this is the first book in a new trilogy, there were interesting secondary characters I wanted to know more about so I immediately checked to see if there were earlier books set in Mirror Lake and, guess what, there are! Even better, they're currently on sale! So, in addition to Can't Stop Loving You, be sure to check out This Thing Called Love, This Love of Mine, and This Loving Feeling. They are all on sale individually for $0.99 but you can currently download all three as a set for only $1.20. How's that for a great deal?

Please join me in welcoming Miranda!

‘Tis The Season for Awkward Family Dinners

Thanks so much for having me on The Romance Dish!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Miranda Liasson, and I write contemporary romance for Montlake and soon for Grand Central. My stories are sexy, lighthearted, but also a little heart-achy, and heavy on the belief that no matter what happens, family and good friends always have your back. 

That’s not to say that family can’t sometimes be a little…um, difficult. 

In my new release, CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU, there is no love lost between the hero, who’s been gone for twelve years, and the heroine’s father.

Separated by a tragedy in their teenage years, both my hero and heroine have worked hard to escape the past and move on. It’s been more difficult for my heroine, Arabella, who has remained in their small town and become a successful psychologist. One day, she finds the past has returned full force in the form of her darkly handsome, enigmatic first love, Roman Spikonos, who is settling back into town to take over his grandfather’s orchards, right next to her traditional Italian family’s garden center. The story is about love, loss, friendship, family, and the journey of one woman to confront her past in order to move onto her future.

At one point in the story, Roman suddenly finds himself sitting among the heroine’s family at their typical Sunday dinner, and he discovers life has truly moved on. Things are not the same, no matter how hard he’s tried to mend fences.

Since it’s the season for potentially awkward family dinners, I thought I’d tell you about a memorable one I experienced personally...when I met my husband’s big Lebanese family for the first time.

I am from the opposite of a big Lebanese family. I was the last child born to older parents and I was definitely an oops! baby. I had a very calm, bookish childhood, with reserved, quiet, loving family members.

So imagine my surprise on the snowy holiday evening when I approached my husband’s family’s suburban neighborhood street, and could not even find parking!  Cars were lined up bumper-to-bumper on both sides. Apparently every auntie and cousin in a ten-mile radius had ventured out to meet me, the girlfriend. 

I could hear the noise emanating from the house before I even knocked. As I handed off my carrot cake, I was greeted by what seemed like dozens of raucous, loud, laughing people. Saying that the family inside reminded me of a scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding is an understatement.

As my boyfriend’s mother kindly sat me at the big dining room table, I couldn’t help but notice there seemed to be six conversations going on at one time. This was completely out of my realm of experience. Where I came from, everyone around the table always took part in the same conversation.

“Are you all right?” my boyfriend asked.

“Sure, of course,” I said. “It’s just a little…loud.” He hadn’t noticed the decibel level being a little (or a lot) on the dialed-up side.

Everyone began eating and passing platters of delicious Lebanese food. Then suddenly it quieted down. The kibbeh nayeh was being served—a traditional uncooked meat dish. Everyone was silently watching me, waiting to see if I would put some on my plate.

I gulped. Broke out in a cold sweat. Because I had taken Microbiology, for gosh sakes! I knew what happened to people who ate undercooked meat, much less the raw kind! Bad things! I loved my boyfriend but was I really being asked to make this sacrifice?

So, you might be asking, did I do it? Yes, yes I did. Well, I put a pile of it on my plate, which seemed to please the older relatives. But I confess that later, when no one was looking, I gently tucked it under the pita bread so I wouldn’t have to actually eat it.

The worst moment, however, was yet to come.  My husband’s sixty-year-old cousin flat-out asked me in front of the whole table, Are you sleeping with him? Is he good in bed?

Oh, God. In my family, something like this would happen absolutely never. I looked over at my now-husband. I could still remember how he looked back at me. Smiling, dark-eyed, black haired, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. And he winked. Winked!

“I’m so good, there’s no time for sleep,” he said without missing a heartbeat.  The table roared. I immediately began breathing again. I knew there was a reason I loved that man!

In time, that raucous family became my family too. They welcomed me with open arms. They taught me what it was like to be part of a big family with lots of cousins and aunts and siblings. Where the aunts and uncles grill the young ones and make them accountable for their life decisions, keeping them in line. And like Roman in my story, I learned that quirky family members may abound but they’ve got hearts as big as the moon.

And the most important piece of wisdom I learned—if you want to fit in with the family, you gotta try the food.

I’d love to give away one signed copy of CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU to a U.S. commenter and one e-copy to a non-U.S. commenter.

For a chance to win, tell me, what’s the most unusual food you’ve had to try around the holidays?

Be sure to include US or Non-US with your comment so we know which prize draw to put you into. Thanks! 


When it comes to her heart, Arabella D’Angelo has moved on—even though she still lives in Mirror Lake, Connecticut, a little tourist town with a long memory for mistakes. Ever the dutiful daughter of a cantankerous widower who holds grudges, Bella has spent the past twelve years raising her younger brother and making a name for herself as a successful psychologist. Now, when she isn’t counseling a lonely-hearts club for senior women, she’s humoring her matchmaking girlfriends. Bella resists the romancing of their blind dates, yet her friends hope she’ll fall for a local and scrap plans for a fresh start in Chicago.

Then, just before Bella’s thirtieth birthday, her first love, Roman Spikonos, returns to Mirror Lake. When he moves next door to her family’s garden-center business to run his grandparents’ orchard, it stirs up gossip—and a tempest of passions—just in time for pumpkin harvest. As Roman and Bella once again get caught up in a swirl of desire and heartache, not to mention her overprotective father’s fury, Mirror Lake will soon find out whether the Italian hometown beauty and her unforgettable Greek god can stand a second chance.


Just then, Bella saw a man walking toward her from across the square. She looked the other way, pretending to be fascinated by a couple of little kids kicking up leaves. Because she’d know that sweeping, confident gait, that straight-as-a-cornstalk carriage, those big, strong shoulders anywhere. And the way her limbs were going weak, the way her heart had catapulted into her stomach like a basketball and her breaths were coming raggedly, her body knew it, too. All that told her that the man striding quickly toward her was no surfer guy. It was Roman.
She glanced up to find him standing there, wearing jeans and a black sweater. Looking like sin, as usual.
“Oh, it’s you,” she said, trying to sound disappointed, but she couldn’t help smiling a little. “I’m expecting my big, burly, blond Swedish date.” When she showed him the photo on her phone, his response was an emphatic grunt.
He sat next to her on the bench, his leg grazing hers unapologetically. He smelled like woodsy cologne and shaving cream, and it was making her giddy. Like he’d just had a shower and was going out for the night. Maybe he was. An image of him on a date with some gorgeous woman floated through her mind. Him laughing and sipping wine with someone and caressing her hand across the table.
She pushed back that image. It made her uncomfortable. Sad. It was only a matter of time before he met someone. He was too good looking, too funny, too chivalrous. Too everything.
His leg touched hers again, but he didn’t say anything, like excuse me or oops. It seemed . . . intentional. Yet he sat there, focused on watching the sun sink over those gorgeous trees, that New England autumn post-card view . . .
She couldn’t take it anymore. She moved away into her own personal space. “Oh, for the love of God, what are you doing here?”
He sat up a little straighter. Eyeballed her in a way that confused her . . . he seemed hesitant, very unlike him, who usually said what he meant and didn’t play games. Finally he spoke. “Your date’s not showing tonight.”
“Oh.” Great. Apparently she was being stood up based on appearance only, since Jess had told her she’d e-mailed her date a photo. That was confidence inspiring. And worse was that Roman knew she was being stood up. Not only knew but came bearing the news. Wait a minute . . . She stopped in the middle of gathering up her purse. “How do you know that?”
He leaned forward on the bench, resting his elbows on his legs, tapping his fingers together. “Trust me, he’s not your type.”
“You interfered with my date? How could you? I thought we talked about this.”
Roman sighed heavily. He turned toward her and spoke. “Your date’s not showing because he doesn’t exist.”
Her heart skipped a beat. Or two. “Did you annihilate him?”
“No, I made him up. I gave Jess a stock photo to show you.”
“To play a joke on me?” Why would he do that? Her throat felt lumpy. Through everything, she thought at least they were friends. “That is the lowest—”
He grabbed her by the shoulders. “Bella,” he said and shook her a little. “Look at me.”
She did, through narrowed eyes. When she saw his face, all the fight whooshed right out of her, like a balloon let loose before it’s tied. There was something different about him tonight. A graveness. The way he looked at her was just different, like he was not joking or being sarcastic. In fact, he looked dead serious, those big brown eyes staring right at her, those long, lovely lashes looking sinfully angelic on such a gorgeous hunk of man.
“I did it because I want to be your date for tonight.” She must have still looked confused, because he said, “I knew you’d never agree to it the regular way.”
All Bella’s critical body parts were humming. She was filled with elation, with hope. Maybe it was wine or desperation or the upcoming birthday, she didn’t know. But she had the distinct feeling she was about to do something reckless, and like it.
She must’ve looked dumbstruck because he repeated, “I want to take you on a date.”
“Take me on a date?” she echoed. A bright bulb, she was indeed.
“Yeah, you know”—he pointed back and forth between the two of them—“go out together, you and me. Tonight.”
“I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. Our history, you know.” Their history was a mess, and they both knew it.
“Right, right,” he said, pretending to contemplate that. “But still.”
But still what? “Why me?” she asked. It came out sounding very quiet and clogged, because she was having difficulty getting the words out.
“I think you know why.” His eyes dropped to her lips. Her stomach dropped to her feet. Oh God.
Date him? That would be foolish. Do him? Even worse. To her horror she realized she wanted to. A lot.  

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  1. Thank you for sharing. I truly enjoyed reading it and loved the excerpt for Can't Stop Loving You. You are or I should say were a new Author or me.I'm really looking forward to reading it Miranda. I got a kick out of your experience meeting your future in-laws. It sounds like my family. A very large Italian group. Everyone who comes over can't understand how we keep up so many conversations at the same time. lol Happy Holidays.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    1. Hi Carol! I'm from Northeast Ohio, a former steel town where many of our grandparents were immigrants. I grew up with many Italian, Slovak, Polish, Hungarian, and Irish friends. A wonderful melting pot of traditions and foods. The family in Can't Stop Loving You is Italian. Let me know if you think I got them right! Thanks for stopping by and happy holidays :)

  2. Welcome, Miranda! I love your description of the first dinner with your husband's family. I imagine it's very much how my late husband felt when he joined my family. He was an only child with only one aunt and uncle and one cousin. I come from a huge family: 24 aunts and uncles and 36 first cousins, plus my 4 siblings. He was pretty shell-shocked. No ethnic food surprises though, after 20 years in the military, he was a pretty adventurous eater.

    1. PJ, thanks so much for having me today! Shell-shocked is right, lol! I always think God was looking out for me a little, to give me the experience of a big family that I missed out on when I was young. I feel very blessed, and I bet your husband did too. It's nice to look back and laugh!

  3. I enjoyed your heartwarming story which was memorable and very special. You are fortunate to be part of such a welcoming and warm family. I won't touch meat at all especially undercooked meat.

    1. Lol, I have to agree with you about the meat. My husband is such a jokester--once we had kids, he would always tease that he was going to feed it to the kids when I wasn't looking! Truthfully, (besides the raw meat), Lebanese food has become my favorite!

  4. Your story was so beautiful, and wonderful. What a lovely experience which is what life is about. Certain veggies are out for me.

  5. I know about big families coming from a Irish family. Our family dinners especially at the holidays could be big and loud, but the memories are wonderful. I don't think I have had to east anything unknown at Christmas that I can remember.

  6. My parents were Slovak and Polish and my in-laws are Italian. My mom made the best Lasagne I ever ate with spinach rocata and munster cheese and other things.. I make it now and it looks like a picture. The worst thing I tried was my mother in laws beef roast she cooked everything so well done it was black...hate dry meat. Your book sounds so good. I love big families that get along on the most part.

    1. Thanks for the picture of charred, black meat, lol! The lasagna sounds wonderful, however. My mother's side is Polish and from her, we have a Christmas Eve dinner that has 12 courses--one for each apostle! (Well, we cheat a little, but it's quite a bit or work but very wonderful.)

  7. I dated a Lebanese guy in college. We never reached the 'meet the family' stage but he did introduce me to one of his family's favorites: kippers, cream cheese, and horseradish on black bread. Now, the bread, horseradish, and cream cheese, I could handle but the kippers? Those took a giant leap of food courage!

    1. I've never heard of those foods (mercifully, lol)!

  8. I loved your story of Meet the Inlaws! The most unusual new-to-me food I tried was at a co-worker's house and it was tabouli salad. Growing up in Texas, Mexican food and steak or chicken fried steak were the everyday fare. My palate has expanded but honestly, we're still "not very adventurous", as my daughter kindly states.
    I can't wait to read your book! It's sounds like my catnip.

  9. Tabouli salad is made from cut parsley, soaked cracked wheat, tomatoes, and onions. It's very time consuming to cut the parsley without including the stems--you have to pick it all apart, and then you can chop it in a food processor or cut it. The dressing is oil and lemon juice and it is delicious!
    "Not very adventurous" reminds me of my son when he was a child--I must've done something wrong with that kid, because the only food he ever ate was white...chicken nuggets, macaroni, bread, french fries. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many times I drove through McDonald's to keep him alive, lol. Now he's a strapping six foot two, thank the Lord!

    1. Your story about your son reminded me of a book I recently read where a little girl would only eat food that was the color of her clothes. Yikes!

  10. I'm not very adventurous over food and love fish (Cod or Haddock) and chips after watching football. With climate change warming the seas around the British Isles, I understand that these fish are declining and warmer water fish are starting to flourish. I'm therefore looking forward to my first plate of squid and chips :)

  11. Interesting! Squid and chips! Thanks for stopping by :)

  12. Irish and German from my family. We always got together for the holidays and during the summer for graduations. It was adults in the dining room and kids in the kitchen. Good times. Now my husband family made chitterlings and there was no way I was eating them. They smell horrible. Thankfully they were not upset with me. Married 35 yrs.

  13. Chitterlings! Okay, that might possibly tie with my example, Pamela. Congrats on the 35 years. Glad the chitterlings weren't a deal breaker :)

  14. Growing up with Italian relatives we had smelt, baccala, and squid on Christmas Eve. I still miss my grandmother fixing that and her different cookies. I grew up in Ashtabula county so probably not far from you!

  15. Isn't that called the Feast of the Fishes? Yay, a Northeast Ohio woman after my own heart! I was Mahoning county. Hey, Neighbor! Thanks for stopping by :)

  16. I haven't tried any unusual foods. You were a great girlfriend to put some of the uncooked meat on your plate. I would have been afraid to contaminate the rest of the food on my plate. Thankfully you were able to hide it and didn't have to eat it. :) (US commenter)

  17. I was afraid they would think I was a snob for not doing it :). But in the end, I couldn't bring myself to eat it, lol! Yes, thanks Rachael, I will be sure to remind my husband what a great girlfriend I was, thank you very much :) Happy holidays!

  18. Thanks for visiting with us today, Miranda! I agree with Rachel B. You were most definitely a great girlfriend!

    Merry Christmas!

  19. Thanks so much for having me, PJ! Happy holidays, Everybody :)

  20. I've had chitterlings (chitlins) and hog maws, which were actually very tasty. Happy Holidays and thanks for sharing the excerpt and your experience!