Illustration by Erin Taj

The Cracklin’ Hottest Passages in KFC’s Romance Novel, ‘Tender Wings of Desire’

Sorry, there aren’t any

Let’s just take this one by the finger-licking facts: KFC has released a romance novella. It is called Tender Wings of Desire. It is 96 pages. It is a marketing scheme for Mother’s Day, apparently their busiest day of the year, intended to key into that old notion of the bored housewife escaping with a sack of Harlequin romance novels. KFC apparently hopes this will move loads of $20 buckets of their Fill Up Meal. The cover features Colonel Harland Sanders, who died in in 1980 and was a bit of a rogue, in Fabio render, with a buff, ripped young body—so the carpet does not match the drapes. You’re never going to download this thing (even though it’s free on Amazon), but we did, and we were going to tell you the best parts.

The problem: There are no best parts. As a romance novel, it’s perfectly fine? But it misses the mark on what you might’ve wanted from this sort of thing. One, Colonel Sanders isn’t hot in any known universe, even with a ripped bod. He’s an old guy in plantation attire, I don’t care how much iron he pumps. Two, it has zero fried-chicken-butter-biscuit puns. But you can’t help wanting it to. Every time you hit any mention of a word that evokes food — salt, warm, melted, fingertips — you want desperately for it to be about chicken. But it isn’t. Three, there’s also no real sex. I mean, there is, but we’ll get to that.

The setup: Some lady named Lady Madeleine Parker does not like embroidery and does not want to marry because hey maybe she doesn’t want to sit around being rich and planning parties but it’s Victorian England so she has to! Her parents want her to marry a duke she does not love who is technically hot but not hot to her, whom her younger sister thinks “looks like a vanilla biscuit.”

You know who doesn’t look like a biscuit? (Even though he kinda does, if you think about it? Sidenote: KFC biscuits are legit good and I’m from the South.) Fictional Harland Sanders, a sailor in the town Madeleine jets off to instead of marrying that hot-non-hot duke. Harland doesn’t show up until Chapter 6, when she’s working at a tavern.

He’s a “handsome” sailor who wears glasses:

“He was tall, dressed like a sailor with a striped linen shirt and woolen peacoat crusted with sea salt. His hair was light and fair, framing his head in airy curls, and the eyes that stared back at her were almost the exact color of the sea.”

A week later they kiss:

“It was electric. It was everything, and whatever sickness Madeline believed she had from infatuation with him melted away at the touch of his lips. Her entire body felt as though it were on fire, her heart beating wildly in her chest. He felt so warm, and his arms circled around her waist to pull closer.”

They kiss a lot and spend the night together. He goes out to sea again. Should she fuck him or not fuck him, she’s a lady, blah blah blah.

Finally they do have sex, I think, but because this is not erotica, the descriptions are euphemistically yawn:

“To call their affair passionate was an understatement. Sometimes it seemed as though the two of them had been made to love each other, and they tried to do so at every given opportunity. Their eyes would meet the instant he walked into the tavern, as if they could feel each other. In that instant, a spark would light and grow quickly into a raging inferno deep within them. They were so consumed that it took every ounce of their restraint not to give into the fire right then and there. The flames would continue to rage throughout the night until the fire was too much, and at last they could let it engulf them.”

Yeah, I’ve had sex like that.

Then she finds out he’s secretly loaded:

“Yes, I’m a Colonel. Yes, I’m fabulously rich. I am a magnate of the restaurant industry, my dear, the king of an empire that I built with my bare hands. I took a sabbatical from my duties in order to see the world, see what else could possibly be out there, and on the course of my journey I found what I was looking for.”

Bummer—now she has to be a high-society wife after all. But I guess it worked, because all we can think about now is getting some fried chicken.