Hi everybody! Iím Heather McCollum, author of Scottish romances. Iím excited to be here on
Fresh Fiction to celebrate the release of my new novel, THE WICKED
VISCOUNT, which takes place in 17th c London.
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to wear the huge ensembles of silk and embroidery
that the ladies in the English court used to don? My current Scottish historical romance series,
The Campbells, takes place in 1684 and 1685. In THE WICKED VISCOUNT, the heroine, a feisty
Scottish lass, must venture to the royal court in London. For the first time in her life, she wears
the rich garments of the elite to fit in at Whitehall Palace. I wanted to experience what my
heroine was feeling in the strictures of the costume, so I commissioned the talented Victoria
Vane to create an ensemble for me. Even though my heroine grows up during the time when
these dresses were worn, she is poor and has never worn the full costumes before.
After two weeks of looking at fabrics with Victoria, we finally decided on a gorgeous magenta
and lavender combination of silks. Imported from India, the fabrics are rich and beautifully
embroidered with elaborate patterns, which was very authentic to the time period. After
decades of dour dress under the rule of Oliver Cromwell, the court under Charles II had swung
the other way with bright colors, jewels, and large headdresses.
Victoria didnít have a pattern for the costume, so she studied a one-page descriptive picture
and created one! So talented. My mother and I drove to Victoriaís studio in South Carolina for
a final fitting. I spent two hours in the costume, and here is what I experienced.
Stays are called stays because they keep everything in place. Women in the 17th century did
not wear bras (or underwear), just a smock or shift, which is like a long (or short) nightgown.
The stays are laced in the front or back and go over the smock. Depending on the person
pulling the ties, the stays can be pleasantly supportive or like a boa constrictor intent on
pressing all your organs together inside.
I wore my stays for two hours and had lines from the boning etched into my skin when I
removed the garment. It certainly gave me a nice display of cleavage and something of a
waistline! So, it was totally worth not being able to bend at the waist or do much of anything
except look lovely. However, I donít think I could wear them every day unless Iíd been trained
to do so from the cradle.
The petticoat, which is a skirt, came next and tied at the waist over the stays and a crinoline
that was actually from my wedding twenty-four years ago (I knew Iíd need that thing again!).
Then I was helped into the outer dress, or mantua, which was very fashionable at the time. A
mantua is a dress that opens in front to show a coordinating stomacher and the petticoat.
Victoria bustled up the long train so that it didnít extend too far, creating beautiful swoops of
fabric. I wore pompadour shoes and white stockings.
The final part of the costume is the headpiece, a fontage. It is a stiff, white, lacey addition to
an updo of curls. It is said that the mistress of the French king lost her hat while riding
horseback and tied her hair up with a bit of lace. The king said she looked enchanting, and so
she began tying her hair up with lace, and the court mimicked the look. The lace became
larger and higher, and ta da, you have the fontage!
The costume is beautiful but heavy, and the fontage towers over my head. I felt rather like a
fortress in the whole ensemble. If a man were to place his hand on my waist to dance, I would
not have felt it through the layers and stays. Getting into it, definitely required at least one
attendant, and it would take quite an effort by the hero to get it off of me. I can definitely see
the skirts being thrown upward in a frenzy of passion (which may or may not be in THE WICKED
VISCOUNT! <wink, wink>).
Thanks so much for stopping into Fresh Fiction today! Have a lovely, all-gazes-turn-to-you-
when-entering-the-ball kind of day.
The Campbells Book 3
1685, Scottish Highlands
Cat Campbell knows all about Nathaniel Worthington, fifth Viscount of Lincolnshire. The
determined Englishman is never far from Finlarig Castle, where his sisters train women to do
more than read and write. And thanks to the fiery kiss they shared nearly a year ago he is
never far from her thoughts. No one ever trained her how to forget an irresistible man.
Nathaniel knows he should keep his distance from the fierce Scottish lass, but when an urgent
letter from Queen Catherine calls Cat to London, he canít resist volunteering to escort her.
The tension between the two has simmered for months, but the long journey in close quarters
creates a raging wildfire that could burn them both.
Secrets of their past and the treachery lurking at court put both their future together and their
very lives at risk.
Romance Historical [Entangled, On Sale: May
24, 2019, e-Book, ISBN: 9781099966637 / ]
Heather McCollum is an award-winning, historical romance writer. She is a member of
Romance Writers of America and the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of 2009 Golden Heart
The ancient magic and lush beauty of Great Britain entrances Ms. McCollumís heart and
imagination every time she visits. The countryís history and landscape have been a backdrop
for her writing ever since her first journey across the pond.
When she is not creating vibrant characters & magical adventures on the page, she is
roaring her own battle cry in the war against ovarian cancer. Ms. McCollum recently slayed the
cancer beast and resides with her very own Highland hero, rescued golden retriever & 3
kids in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.
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