Washington - For Mother's Day, KFC has released a steamy romance book, "Tender Wings of Desire."
It's about two people from different parts of the world who leave home, breaking their mothers' hearts in the process.
One of them is the Colonel. The other, Lady Madeline Parker, is a runaway teen bride. The e-book, which can be downloaded for free, is dedicated to "mothers everywhere" as a "brief escape from motherhood into the arms of your fantasy Colonel."
KFC says Mother's Day is its best-selling day of the year. The book is part of an advertising campaign to promote the chain's "$20 Fill Up" meal.
"The only thing better than being swept away by the deliciousness of our Extra Crispy Chicken is being swept away by Harland Sanders himself," George Felix, director of advertising for KFC US, said in a statement. "So this Mother's Day, the bucket of chicken I get for my wife will come with a side of steamy romance novella."
A video ad for the book - which some may find cheeky, others distasteful - features a long-haired, shirtless man and the message: "This Mother's Day, let Colonel Sanders take care of dinner and Mom's fantasies."
The shirtless man, straining to be sexy, reads from the book, stopping to turn the pages by looking into the camera and slowly licking his thumb as soft music plays in the background. Okay, the chicken may or may not be "finger-lickin'" good, but the book?
"As she lied in Colonel Sander’s arms, she could not help but feel that she finally belongs somewhere," the man reads. (In addition to bad grammar, there are typos in the book.)
Although the campaign sounds like a commercial for Valentine's Day, KFC insists it is all about female parents. "Don't you wish you were a mom?" the shirtless man asks.
And now to the book's story line, which goes something like this:
A rich woman has two daughters. She arranges to have her older daughter marry a duke, which, the book suggests, was the younger daughter's fantasy. But not Lady Madeline, "who would be perfectly happy to be a spinster all of her life."
(In addition to the derogatory term "spinster," the derogatory "old maid" is also bandied about.)
Before the marriage can take place, Madeline runs away without leaving even a goodbye note to her mother. She ends up in a harbour town, takes a job at a local tavern - the Admiral's Arms - and falls head over heels in love with Harland, a customer who is "tall, dressed like a sailor with a striped linen shirt and woollen pea coat crusted with sea salt. His hair was light and fair, framing his head in airy curls."
And he wore glasses, apparently a source of passion for her. "Madeline had never seen a sailor wear glasses before; somehow it made him seem all the more handsome."
KFC, of course, was founded by glasses-wearing Colonel Harland Sanders, who remains the face of the fast-food chain, even after his death in 1980. Most of the enduring images of Sanders are from his twilight years.
He was never accused of being a sex symbol, though KFC has tried giving him a more hip image with saucy ads featuring a string of celebrities, including actor George Hamilton as the "Extra Crispy Colonel" and Billy Zane as "Georgia Gold Colonel"
In a recent campaign, actor Rob Lowe played the colonel wearing a spacesuit, all to promote KFC's Zinger chicken sandwich.
In the book, Madeline's first kiss with Harland is depicted as sort of the beginning of her personal women's liberation movement. "Unfettered by the life that was expected of her, she was technically unfettered from the expectations of her place in society." Or, depending on your view, it's her downward spiral toward embracing casual sex.
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"No longer did she have to maintain her modesty; on the contrary, she was free to be with whomever she desired, regardless of whether they were going to end up being her husband."
She decides to sleep with Harland, who is mighty accommodating. And then, by accident, she learns that he's the wealthy owner of a restaurant empire that he built from scratch. And his mother is very, very sick and needs him in Kentucky.
Soon they are engaged. The book leaves the rest of their story to the imagination, ending with the couple on a boat sailing "off into their own private happily ever after." It doesn't say whether they ever have children.
Happy Mother's Day.