Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Duck! by Kim Dare


Duck! is a nice urban fantasy retelling of the Ugly Ducking, with a few twists along the way.

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 love it when an author trusts me to figure things out on my own and doesn't feel the need to hand feed every little thing to me. And Kim Dare trusts the reader to figure out that a boy who had gone from foster home to foster home, often being returned to the social worker after extreme bouts of clumsiness and broken things, would expect to be sent away for breaking things as an adult, too.

As for the story, I was wanting an Urban Fantasy read, but none of my favorite Urban Fantasy authors have anything new out, and nothing from the debut authors really appealed to me. Then, I read the blurb for Duck! and figured I'd give it a try, mixing BDSM with Urban Fantasy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This one works.

I loved the descriptions of shifting from human form to bird form and back again. I enjoyed the experience of coming back to human form -- the need to hear words in order for the human part of the brain to come to the forefront again.  Then, later, sex right after coming back from bird form, when the human wasn't entirely in charge just yet, the idea of that hawk brain taking control while in a human body. Nice.

The BDSM is... at first thought I want to call it BDSM lite. When in reality it's the S&M and B&D aspects that aren't very big, because the D/s is huge. There is also a lot about the difference in a bully and a Dom, but it's shown by experience, not shoved down our throats. Again, the author gives the information within the story and trusts the reader to figure it out.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: None. Well, other than writing lines for punishment. Which was actually the perfect way to handle the situation... but still... no "discipline" in the normal BDSM sense of the word. And very little bondage.  1 of 3.
  • Dominance and Submission: Yes, quite a bit.  3 of 3.
  • Sadism and Masochism: Just a touch. There is one really nice scene where Ori is made to fly in the traditional type of a BDSM scene.  1 of 3. 
  • Extra Point: The D/s is a big part of the story and a major part of the plot, but I'm not adding the extra point.  
As for the writing elements: the plot is wonderful and well thought out, and I love the plot resolutions. The pacing was mostly good. Prose and dialogue were excellent, with the author taking the time to use words that an Avian society would be more likely to use. Character development was excellent, and world building was perfect. Seriously, world building was put together with the kind of detail you don't always see in Urban Fantasy Erotica, and I'm impressed.
  • Book Rating: Duck!: 9 of 10
  • Intensity Rating: 5 of 10  (1+3+1)
  • Heat Level: 4 of 5
How can I have an Urban Fantasy in the Realistic BDSM category? Well, it's an Urban Fantasy, but the actual BDSM is realistic and does not really change because both men happen to be bird shifters. There is no "I can damage you horribly because you'll heal" stuff.  There are a few small exceptions, where things are a bit different because they are shifters, and for that reason I've also listed Duck! in the Fantasy BDSM category - one exception is the time they have sex when the hawk mind is still in control even though the human body has shifted back into being. That was pure fantasy, and it was a rather nice one, at that.

All in all I enjoyed Duck! and would enjoy more stories from this universe.


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