Duck! by Kim Dare
While Ori's shifter species is unknown, there's no question of whether he's a submissive or not, and Raynard is just the hawk to help him find out what it really means to give yourself over to someone. The plot and story are well told in this very different retelling of the Ugly Duckling, and while the characters may not deeply drawn, they still connect to the readers and invite an emotional connection.
Aside from one writing qualm (see below), I enjoyed Dare's writing style. It was simple, but pulled emotions from me as the reader. She was able to connect me to two characters who were very different, and able to redeem a third character who was a jerk in the beginning. In addition, even knowing this is the story of the Ugly Duckling, I looked forward to seeing the events unfurl and I enjoyed the build up between them as their relationship evolved from master-servant to master-submissive to something else.
Story. A lovely re-make of The Ugly Duckling, although the story in general has very little in common with the original aside from the basic premise. I enjoyed every step of the way and actually put aside other things I should have been working on in order to finish the book. While the tale wasn't complex, it was emotionally packed and I fell in love with the characters and was invested in what happened to them.
Overall. While I try not to use this as a point of strength, in this story it was especially true. I just enjoyed it, and even though I was reading it for the first time, it felt familiar and good, like meeting with an old friend. I think this overall enjoyment of the story helped me ignore any of he other little things that may have annoyed me otherwise.
In my initial read, I didn't really feel there were "weaknesses" in the story, and only one peeve in the writing. In looking around, I know some people have had complaints about a lack of character building for Ori and Raynard, but I had no problems with them. It was pointed out that they are rather flat characters, only really taking on the role of submissive and Dom. I love deep, fleshed out characters, but this two, while single-minded, didn't seem completely flat. They weren't what you'd call deep, but they were what they were. Raynard was a hawk, a dominant in all things. Ori was...well Ori, a submissive in all things. While that's simplifying who they are, it seems to drive home the point of the book.
One issue I did take in this book was Dare's attempt to not abuse pronouns or names. In trying to not overuse names, or making sentences confusing with too many "he"s, she tried using alternatives like "the dominant," "the submissive," "the hawk," and "the fledgling." While I can get behind Raynard referring to Ori as "the submissive" or "the fledgling" when we are in his perspective, I can't see Ori calling himself "the submissive." Since the narration switches between the two men in a limited 3rd person perspective, the words should have adjusted accordingly.