This state of affairs in addition to Liz Michael’s illegitimacy is the basis for her elitist mother-in-law’s abhorrence of Liz. Yet as narcissistic as the woman’s son Addy Payne is, the predator in him recognizes Liz’s high intelligence, talents, and business success. These are characteristics that will enhance his own standing.
By the time of the story, ethnic groups have pretty much abandoned discrimination. There is an appreciation of differences, especially ethnic foods. So the details of the Shannons being Irish, Liz being Polish, Santello being Italian, and the Paynes being well-to-do descendents of the first governor of Ohio contribute to the flavor of the story.