A modern day M/M, BDSM retelling of The Ugly Ducking Fairy Tale using avian shifters.
Raised among humans, Ori Jones only discovered he was an avian shifter six months ago. Unable to complete a full shift until he reaches his avian maturity, he still can’t be sure of his exact species.
But with species comes rank, and rank is everything to the avians. When a partial shift allows the elders to announce that they believe Ori to be a rather ugly little duckling, he drops straight to the bottom rung of their hierarchy.
Life isn’t easy for Ori until he comes to the attention of a high ranking hawk shifter. Then the only question is, is Ori really a duck—and what will his new master think when the truth eventually comes out?
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Kim Dare is known for her D/s books, it’s a mainstay theme of her stories. That’s not a bad thing if you’re into BDSM and the author definitely knows how to write hot sex. Duck is an unusual take in that it features avian shifters in the BDSM world. Shifters are a pretty much over done genre but Duck stands on its own. There is a unique feeling to the story and the re-telling of the classic fairytale is put together with some dynamic BDSM. This is definitely one of Dare’s better stories (as Kris commented, which convinced me to get the book).
Ori is a duckling shifter waiting for his maturity to fully shift. In the meantime he’s working in the kitchens of the local club that serves the avian shifter population. Being the low man on the totem pole in all ways, Ori is often mistreated. His low self esteem plays into that problem as well as his submissive nature. When a new hawk shifter takes Ori under his wing (in all respects), both Ori and Raynard are in for a wild ride.
The story is very much a D/s exploration between Ori and Raynard. Ori shines in his submission to Raynard while the other man craves the obedience and thoughtful care Ori brings. The two have a smoking hot chemistry and tons of D/s laced sex. Ori’s journey from duckling to his first full shift and beyond is quite touching and beautiful in many ways. His need for submission and craving for dominance is often deeply felt and translates well to the story. This is an intimate look at two people who desire and need a constant, formal D/s presence in their lives.
The avian shifters are very entertaining and surprisingly interesting. I wish there had been more about this, the transformation, the avian politics, the hierarchy and so on since if anything this is the weakest aspect of the novel. The strengths of the writing depend on the familiar D/s territory with Ori’s submission matching and complimenting Raynard’s dominance. The scenes when Ori is attempting to win Raynard back are emotional and very moving as the depth of emotion is clear.
Unfortunately what doesn’t work so well is that the background, avian shifters, is very unclear and little developed. The community is only sketched and the reasons are given but not expanded upon. Ori’s status in the community at the beginning versus at the end is explained, his transition is the reason, yet how the two species play into the community as a whole is still not clear. There is so much potential since avian shifters are practically non-existent in this genre. There are details and wonderful added touches such as finches as messengers but this is one area I’d have loved to seen much more explored and in depth.
Beyond that Duck is a lovely and charming story of one man’s need for submission and his lover’s need to dominate. Together the pair makes a wonderful couple that is fun to read. The story isn’t fully developed and the world building leaves something to be desired but I’d recommend this to D/s fans.