My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This story may include shifters, gay sex and BDSM, and yet it is probably still one of the most beautiful re-tellings of the fairytale of the Ugly Duckling that I have ever read. It keeps the heart of the original story intact, that what is inside you is much more important than what other people believe you to be.
I am not a big fan of the paranormal / shifter universe, and have read very little of it. And yet I was drawn into the avian world right from the first page. And obviously the shifter concept was made for this fairytale!
Ori is a fledgling. 20 years old, he has not yet reached his maturity and final avian form and ability to shift. As he has grown up an orphan in foster families, he doesn’t know which shape he will eventually take. He works as a servant at “The nest” – the headquarter gentleman club of the Avian society – this position was obtained when he did a part shift for the elders, who couldn’t be certain of his species, but felt pretty sure that he was “a rather ugly little duckling”.
When looking at Ori’s personality, the elders can be excused for believing him to be a duck, as Ori really have no ambition for anything else but serving others.
Rank and hierachy is very important in Avian society, the birds of prey are Avian aristocracy and our other MC, Raynard, is a hawk. He meets Ori at “The nest” and decides to take the boy on as his personal servant, when he witnesses the way he is being treated at there.
The ensuing months of their relationship are beautifully written, and we see Ori blossoming under Raynards care and Raynard slowly falling in love with his submissive servant.
When Ori comes of age, his full shift in front of the elders makes it clear, that they were all wrong. He is not a duck. And suddenly Ori and Raynards little world is turned upside down.
I was heartbroken right alongside of Ori, who so desperately wanted to be a duck, that he was willing to pretend to be one, if only his master would love him again. It made me so sad to see both of them, so unhappy and so wanting to be together, but being kept apart by tradition and the way things were “supposed to be”.
This was a beautifully written story, a few editing errors, but nothing major that pulled you out of the story, and I really enjoyed a full length novel from Kim Dare. I think I read almost everyone of her shorts, but she is even better when she is allowed to explore more thoroughly as a full length novel gives the room to do.
Highly recommended, even if you are not a fan of shifters when you start – you will be when you finish!