It’s important I remind you that this book was written in honor of Mother’s Day by KFC:
For mothers everywhere, I dedicate this to you— a brief escape from motherhood into the arms of your fantasy Colonel. Whoever he may be.
I am honestly in awe of whichever KFC employee pitched the idea of the Colonel being the sexy lead in a romance novella, specifically dedicated to mothers everywhere, and then got buy-in from senior members of the company. AND THEN WHOEVER DESIGNED THIS COVER GOT IT APPROVED. I mean, it’s just incredible.
Tender Wings of Desire Chapter 1:
We meet Lady Madeline Parker, whose defining characteristic seems to be that she really hates embroidery.
Of all the things that Lady Madeline Parker disliked about her life, the one that constantly stuck out in her brain was her hatred of embroidery.
I mean, if that’s your biggest complaint about life, it’s sounds like things are pretty great.
In contrast, her younger sister Victoria is great at embroidery and basically everything else. Madeline’s “great wit” and riding abilities are emphasised lest we think she’s not a worthy protagonist. They also differ on their opinions about marriage – Victoria is desperate to be married while Madeline “would be perfectly happy to be a spinster all her life.” Alas, her parents are in the process of arranging her marriage to Reginald Lewis, The Duke of Sainsbury. I hope he’s some sort of antagonist to fried chicken and ruthlessly denies Madeline her chance at greasy happiness as he locks her in an oppressive, fast-food free marriage.
The sisters argue about whether or not Madeline should be happy about the likely engagement and about what they want in life. It’s not particularly well or poorly written, honestly, it’s just like it was ripped from generic debates 101. That actually describes this whole chapter so far, “Generic! Which for a romance novel brought to you by KFC is basically glowing praise!”
Madeline tries to remind herself that Reginald is actually not bad looking and age-appropriate so it could be worse, but she’s still not enthusiastic:
There was something missing between the two of them, though, and Madeline was beginning to believe that it was passion, maybe even affection.
Well…duh. What else would be missing between them? She’s already told us they’ve barely even spoken on their long walks, so for someone with great wit, it seems pretty strange that the most obvious realisation ever is just beginning to form.
Madeline is jealous that their brother Winston is studying at Oxford, but Victoria is not sold:
“I do not know about being a duchess,” Madeline said at last. “I wish I could go to university like Winston did in order to figure it all out.”
At this rate, they might as well have just turned the book into a mad lib. I mean, would it have been that hard to give Madeline a subject she was really interested in studying rather than this vague, and misguided, notion that during university you “figure it all out.”
Victoria counters with an equally generic point:
“I do not understand the point of it,” Victoria said, wrinkling her pretty little nose. “It is all just books and sums.”
This is the equivalent of saying, “Restaurants are all just food and tables!” I mean, yeah, but you’re missing a larger point. Victoria makes it sound like there are just books and math problems everywhere, and that’s it, that’s university!
The chapter ends with their mother showing up to announce that Reginald has asked for Madeline’s hand in marriage. Madeline pretends to be happy, but inside she’s distraught. She doesn’t explicitely say so, but I’m positive she longs to go to university and meet a man who not only knows about fried chicken buckets, but also knows about mushy macaroni and cheese and semi-stale biscuits.
Victoria and Madeline prepare to attend a ball together. Madeline makes some valid points about going to social functions:
She hated to make a habit of it, though, for conversation often ran dry and she ended up so bored.
Given what I’ve seen of Madeline’s thought-process so far, I feel she is a major part of the problem in these boring conversations. Not only are her inner-thoughts boring, but from what we’ve seen so far she’s reluctant to be honest about her interests, so she probably just says boring, neutral things like, “Embroidery, huh? That’s a thing!”
At the dance we meet Reginald, and he’s super nice and charming, and rather than just internally try to convince herself that she should feel a spark with him, Madeline doesn’t try to ask him any questions or get to know him better. Instead, the chapter ends with vague assertions that a plan is beginning to take shape in her mind. Like I get that this time for women was pretty shit, and Madeline’s life sounds boring, and it’s unfair she doesn’t have a say in who she marries, but this is all precisely why I hate reading historical romance…and in this case, it sounds like in the context of this world, Madeline has it pretty good.
All in all, this a book written by the folks at KFC is somehow better than a lot of the other books we read here. It’s generic as fuck and boring, but the prose hasn’t been absurd like in Fifty Shades. I’m pretty surprised…and hoping it gets a little more ridiculous. I want to be able to judge this book by it’s ridiculously perfect cover.
Two final points:
There’s no word yet about whether KFC exists in this world or if perhaps it’s a company prequel.
What I find most confusing is that the cover leads me to believe this is a modern-day tale, but the actual story has arranged marriages and conventions around the oldest sister having to marry before the younger sister can, so what gives with the woman in jeans on the front cover?