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?
I was all set to give this story four stars and then the characterisation of swans happened, and no. Just no.
Duck! is an m/m BDSM story with a sprinkling of paranormal thrown into the mix. I wanted to read about avian shifters, but unfortunately that side of the story was superficial at best. The nest and hierarchy between species read more like an allegory of BDSM caste system people were born into with dominant species on top and submissives at the bottom.
Except that the dominant-submissive relationship aspect read more like an Master-slave dynamic. If you get past all that, then this is actually a well written and easy to read m/m erotica.
Ori is a fledgling waiting to become of age and a full avian shifter. He’s been thrown from one foster home to another and he doesn’t know what species his heritage makes him. The nest elders’ best guess is a lowly duckling. Raynard is a hawk shifter recently returned to the nest, and suitably high in the hierarchy for his dominant tendencies. He becomes engrossed with Ori and decides to save him from the abuse by the other nest shifters. Ori does what he’s told; he’s a good submissive.
I managed to swallow the iffy aspects of their set up—Raynard’s total control over Ori without Ori ever questioning the arrangement other than to offer more—because I utterly bought Ori’s want and need to please his master. Ori wanted to serve and he wouldn’t have been happy any other way.
As much as I wanted to learn more about the nest dynamics, I would have been happy with less hadn’t the author’s portrayal of swans’ nature rung utterly false. She makes them sound like majestic but utterly helpless creatures without proper guidance. Swans aren’t helpless. They’re fierce, protective of their cygnets, and downright scary coming at you.
It’s a good read if you’re in the mood to suspend your disbelief.