Monday, February 8, 2016

Heidi Kneale and MARRY ME, A Candy Hearts Romance

Heidi Kneale is a fellow Wild Rose Press author, and she has also written a Valentine novella in the Candy Hearts series. She's here today on Clothes Make the Character Mondays to talk about what her character Millie would have worn back in the early 1900s when MARRY ME takes place. Heidi, take it away!

The period between 1890’s and the start of World War I went by many names. The British called it the Edwardian period after King Edward. The Americans called it the Golden Era and the French called it Le Belle Epoque.

However, fashion crossed boundaries. With the death of stuffy old Queen Victoria and the promise of a new century, fashion reflected the fresher and optimistic outlook of the world at large.

Or perhaps not so large. With the onset of telegraph and telephone, faster ships and trains, the world began to shrink. No longer did it take weeks or months to travel, but now, mere days.

This exciting new world sparked a revolution in fashion.

The stiffness and fullness of Victorian fashion relaxed. Edwardian fashion became looser with more flowing lines. Hoops and crinolines disappeared. Even the bustle, that wanted to hang on until the very end, disappeared. Sure, curviness and a small waist remained, but it was no longer restrained and poofled like an over-stuffed chair.

Soft drapes accentuated the popular feminine S-shape, with their pigeon breasts and plump behinds. Heavy gaberdines and wools gave way to soft cottons, sensual silks and other fine fabrics. While puffed-up mutton-leg sleeves enjoyed a popularity, eventually these softened and dropped into something gently flowing.

Thanks to the 19th Century’s Industrial Revolution, the middle class had grown exponentially. The fashion idea of Gibson Girls and New Women led the way in making fashion more functional, more moveable. This led to less-full skirts. As the 20th Century progressed, hemlines rose to above the ankle to display elegant shoes. These shorter hemlines and narrower skirts gave a freedom of movement that had not been seen since the Regency. (It wouldn’t be until after World War I that hemlines shoot straight to the knee.)

This freer clothing allowed women to participate more in sport and other active pursuits. With the invention of telephones and typewriters, employment opportunities opened for women. These new career fields demanded freer, less fussy clothing.

The Suit, inspired by menswear, came into fashion. Gone were the lovely Morning Gowns

with their yards and yards of fabric. Simple straight skirts with gauzey shirtwaist blouses and an overjacket became popular. Originally designed for travel, the suit became very popular, being worn for nearly everything, from work (paid or volunteer) to morning callings and even acceptable dress for wedding guests.

While clothing became more elegant in its simplicity, the hats and the hair upon which they rested went overboard. Big, poofy bouffants became the must-have hair-do of the day. Waves and curls piled high enough to rival Marie Antoinette was what everyone wanted.

Big hair needed big hats. The Cartwheel hat became popular, as did the Merry Widow and the Picture Hat. Plus, one could never have too many ostrich feathers. It was as if they needed something to balance out the simpler lines of their narrower skirts.

Colours eased up. With the invention of synthetic dyes in the last half of the 19th Century, it seemed the Victorian era went overboard with brilliant colour. But as the new century dawned, everyone got over the eye-burningly bright colours and toned things down a bit. White became popular as a day colour, especially for summer. Muted, nature-inspired colours such as pale blues, dusky roses and gentle greens were also in fashion. Suits could go darker, like plums, midnight blues and chocolates, but they remained subtle. No one would wear anything as bold as orange or red. Even opulent evening gowns kept such garishness to a minimum.

In “Marry Me” our heroine Millie Moore enjoys the New Woman fashions. She likes the soft blouses and narrow skirts. Even her day dresses reflect these paler colours and ease of movement. When Guy Elliot insists she wear a red dress for their afternoon stroll, Millie is at a loss. No New Woman of her age and station would own a red dress that year, much less wear a red dress out as day wear. As a young, unmarried woman, sashes about the waist were in fashion and provided a lovely contrast to pale day dresses. The best she can do is a pink sash and hope that Guy will be content with her wearing “light red”.


In 1905 New York City, affluent Millie Moore wants to be outspoken like the suffragettes she admires. She also wants to rid herself of an annoying and controlling suitor. For a well-brought up young lady whose mother fears her impending spinsterhood, speaking her mind is an uphill battle.

When Raymond Wilson sees Millie at a rally, it’s love at first sight. Not wanting his stutter to ruin his chances, he enchants a little candy heart to do his talking for him.

For Millie, Raymond is a breath of fresh air. And maybe, just maybe, someone she could love. But for her social-climbing suitor Guy Elliot, he’s a threat to his plans. And Raymond isn’t the only one who knows something about magic. Now the ante has been upped and Millie is the prize…


A giggle rose up inside Millie. “Do you always carry around candy?”

“A g-g-ood uncle is a-a-a-always p-prepared.”

Raymond patted down his pockets. His hand rested over his heart for a moment. A coy little smile played his lips. Then he reached into another pocket and brought out a rumpled white bag from Smith’s. He pulled out a heart.

“I—I been s-s-aving th-th-these in c-c-ase I f-found you ag-g-gain.” From the inside of his jacket he produced a pencil. He wrote a tiny message on the heart before he gave it to her.

“Eat me!” it squeaked.

How adorable.

Her laughter bubbled up unrestrained. “Is it safe?”

He nodded.

She looked at the heart, hesitated, and then held it up to his lips. “You first.”

He opened his mouth and accepted the heart from  her delicate fingers. He sucked on it and closed his eyes in delight. “Mmmm…” He leaned back against the iron railing and gave himself over to the joys of a little conversation heart.

Millie let out a breath. “Are you teasing me?”

He lifted a single eyelid. “Yep.”

Extracting another heart, he wrote, “Sweet Lips.”

He held it up for her. “Y-your t-turn.”

Buy Links: TBA


About the Author:

Heidi Kneale is an Australian author of moderate repute best known for her escapist fiction--especially Fantasy and Romance. She lives in Western Australia, near the ocean. Like most humans, she's got a family. She also associates with the World's Most Boring Cat. When not writing novels, she composes music and stares at the stars.

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