Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover—Or a Hero By His Beard

We’ve all heard this saying before. It means to not judge people by first appearance—or by first impression.

In my new contemporary romance, CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU, the first meeting between the hero and heroine doesn’t go so well. In fact, my hero and my heroine both misjudge each other, in sometimes hilarious ways.

The first thing my heroine Maggie McShae notices is a big bushy Bandholz beard (you know, the, the “let it all grow out” sort of beard that is quite popular now) that she does not care for at all. In fact, she pokes fun at the hero by calling him “Wolverine” and “Unabomber.” Worse, she believes he’s an over privileged and entitled rich boy. He’s the son of a billionaire, and he’s hiding out in the small town of Mirror Lake from the media fallout after he left his high society bride weeping at the altar. And while he’s been hiding out, that beard has been a-growing.

My heroine has just gone AWOL from her bereavement group that’s meeting in the church basement. She’s desperate to start her life again after her husband’s death from cancer, but she’s terrified and unsure of how to begin—she only knows that she’s got to try something.

My hero, Drew, just happens to overhear my heroine’s conversation as she makes a call to a guy she’s had a few dates with. In fact, he ends up coaching her through the conversation.

You can read the excerpt from Chapter 1 below. I hope it gives you a few laughs. (You’re also welcome to read the entire chapter on my website at mirandaliasson.com.)

For two people who don’t like each other and who do not want to be attracted to each other, both my hero and heroine have got some major surprises in store as they discover that first impressions are sometimes just simply…wrong.

Comment below by telling me what you think about those big bushy Bandholz beards that are popular now—are you a fan or not?

Note:  This book is the second in the Spikonos brothers series. But they can be read as standalones as well. And the e-edition of first book, CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU, is on sale all month on Amazon for just $1.99.

About CAN’T FIGHT THIS FEELING

SHE WANTS TO MOVE ON…WITH SOMEONE BLAND AND BORING.

Widowed psychologist Maggie McShae is ready to find someone who won’t make her heart beat fast, her knees grow weak, or her body go hot and cold at the same time. No one she can really love, because love brings too much pain.

Drew Poulos, son of a billionaire, is hiding out in Mirror Lake, working at his brothers’ brandy company. He inspires those very feelings Maggie’s determined to avoid. The hunky businessman, who left his high society bride at the altar, is the last person she’d ever seriously date. But he might just be perfect for a fling…

HE NEEDS A DATE FOR HIS BROTHER’S WEDDING…WITH SOMEONE WHO CAN CALM HIS QUIRKY FAMILY.

Drew’s too heartbroken to ever trust any woman again, but the sexy psychologist is the perfect person to deflect his family’s attention as his brother marries the woman Drew once thought was his.

As sparks fly, two injured hearts might just find that true love can be even better the second time around.

Excerpt

“I want to sleep with you,” Maggie McShae said into her cell phone. “I’m ready to take the plunge.” Her words echoed in the high-ceilinged vestibule of Mirror Lake Congregational Church, where her bereavement group was meeting at this very moment in the basement.

The bereavement group, that is, from which she’d gone AWOL, possibly forever. It was not the group she led as part of her practice as a psychologist either, but the one she’d attended since her husband’s death over three years ago.

“Did I just hear you right?” Greg Pollard, a fireman on the Mirror Lake squad, asked from the other end of the phone.

“Yes, you heard me right. I’m ready. It’s time.” There, she’d done it. Finally taken a step forward. Greg was a nice guy, and they’d had three fun dates. He was good-looking and polite, and she wanted him to know she was ready to move to the next level. Being a psychologist, even she could congratulate herself on the progress.

What would Corey think? She could see him sitting in heaven, in his favorite easy chair, laughing his ass off at her awkwardness. Or maybe he’d be scowling instead. He’d been gone three and a half years, but going on a date still felt like she was cheating on him. She squeezed her eyes shut to block out those thoughts. She was doing so well. Keep going, Maggie, she thought, trying to cheer herself on inside her head.

“Um, Maggie, I’m at work. Can you give me a sec?”

“Oh, sure. No problem, Greg.”

The sound of male laughter echoed around her in the high-ceilinged space, bouncing off the big glass windows that faced Main Street of Mirror Lake, Connecticut. As Maggie slowly turned around, she saw someone sitting on one of the three wide white marble steps that ran the length of the vestibule.

Oh, firetruck. It was her best friend Bella’s obnoxious brother-in-law, and he’d just heard everything. Well, she wasn’t going to let him sit there and gloat. “Oh hi, Ted Kaczynski,” she said, waving. “What made you join civilization today?”

The man smoothed out his rather bushy beard and smiled. Even under all that hair (which he’d seemed to grow to hide behind in the past year and a half since coming to Mirror Lake), that smile was beaming out some major wattage. She’d never personally seen him without the Wolverine look, but she’d seen photos in the tabloids, and honestly, she was grateful for the massive sprouting of hair that hid his make-women-swoon sexy looks. Not that they’d ever make her swoon, mind you. She was immune to scoundrels.

Above the beard, his eyes crinkled, showing a few lines that in a man like him spelled interest and experience. He smiled, displaying brilliantly white teeth, reminding her he wasn’t a country hick hiding out in Mirror Lake but rather a polished gazillionaire businessman. But the hiding part was right.

Actually, they’d met when he’d run in off the street straight into the group therapy session she was leading, looking for sanctuary from the press after his botched wedding. She was afraid he was deranged and called the cops. She smiled a little thinking of that day when a gorgeous AWOL guy in a tux burst through her office door. She’d gotten to know him a little since he was the brother of two of her best friends’ husbands, but she didn’t have a very high opinion of him. In the looks department, he was blessed, but the rest of him left a lot to be desired.

“Don’t mind me,” he said. “Just keep on with your…um…booty call.”

She covered the receiver of her cell and dropped her voice. Because they were in a church, after all. “It’s not a booty call. We’ve had three perfectly wonderful dates, and he wanted to…he wanted to… Why am I telling you this? It’s none of your business.”

He held up a hand. “Right. Sure you don’t need a few pointers?”

From him? The guy who created a national scandal when he dumped his gorgeous socialite bride at the altar—at the altar, for God’s sake—a year and a half ago in front of a sizable crowd at St. Patrick’s Cathedral? Which had been covered by all the major outlets, starting a media firestorm that he’d been lying low from ever since. “Like I’m going to ask you for pointers in matters of the heart. That’s a laugh, because you clearly don’t have one.”

He placed his hands dramatically over his chest. “You slay me, Maggie. You just slay me.” He waited for her eye roll before he said, “This doesn’t really sound like a matter of the heart. More like a matter of…”

“Oh, hi, Greg,” she said, because he was back on the line. “Yes. I was just wondering if you’d like to try…another date.”

Put him on speaker, Drew mouthed.

No way, she mouthed back as she turned away a little. She didn’t like Andreas Poulos. He’d had the reputation of being a love-’em-and-leave-’em kind of guy even before his high-profile engagement, dating beautiful women from around the world. Then, of course, he’d left poor Anika in tears. He was clearly full of himself, rich and entitled, and he would rather act like a recluse than face his problems. All dishonorable traits in her book. Even the New York Post ran the headline: THE HUNK’S A PUNK, after the wedding debacle.

But there was one thing he had that just might come in helpful. Tons of experience with women. Why not use it to her benefit? He’d already heard what was going on. Plus, she hadn’t had sex in over three years. These were desperate times, and clearly, she could use a little help here. Despite her better judgment, she pushed the speaker button.

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About the Author

Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about everyday people who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better! A former Golden Heart winner, she’s written contemporary romance for Montlake, Entangled, and soon for Grand Central. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, three kids, and Posey, a rescue cat with attitude.

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