Welcome to my little corner of the gay erotic romance universe . . . well, half of it, anyway. (You can find the other half at RachelHaimowitz.com.) This is the place to come for sneak previews of new projects, release information, and the occasional M/M book review. I'll also share thoughts on the industry on occasion, and I hope you'll come share yours in return.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review: Duck! by Kim Dare, 4 of 5 Stars

Morning folks. My sis is in town this week for the first time since December, so I'll be cheating the blog content juuuuust a little by posting some book reviews I did on Goodreads, and maybe some picspam. (Are you tired of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy yet? Because I have a whole folder of hot naked guys who are not them; I just haven't felt compelled to open it lately ;-p)

Anyway, today I want to share a review for a delightful M/M BDSM book, Duck! by Kim Dare.

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 review, beneath the jump.

Duck! is, hands down, one of the sweetest and most insightful explorations of 24/7 total power exchange that I have ever read. It's also one of the most highly recommended books I've ever read (as in, many people telling me to read it), and though I didn't quite understand why at the beginning, it was perfectly clear by the end.

There are a lot of amazing things about this book. First and foremost is the way the TPE relationship is handled--how it begins, how it develops, how it ends, and most especially the thought processes of both the Dom and the sub. The two POVs complimented each other to perfection in this book, soothing any--ahem--ruffled feathers the reader might ever have about their situation. Not, mind you, that I think that will come up often; Dare sets the stage with so much patience and reflection that even an uninitiated reader with no understanding of what drives Doms and subs would likely find themselves nodding their heads and saying, "Ooooh, I get it now." That's quite the accomplishment.

Another tick in the "quite the accomplishment" column was Dare's concept of avian shifters. Truly creative, and the hierarchy amongst them felt natural, borrowed neatly as it was from real life. There was some uneasiness about this in the beginning when poor Ori is still in the Nest, before he's discovered by his new master, but once he's in his master's hands, the picture of the world Dare painted becomes clear and even kind of reassuring.

So, why not five stars? Two big things. First, the writing's a little rough. (Okay, a lot rough. This book was in desperate need of a firm editorial hand.) Tons of misplaced commas--and not so much proofing errors as grammar errors--that often threw off the rhythm of a sentence or a scene. Also an absolutely endless use of epithets ("the younger man," "the older man," "the bigger man," "the smaller man," "the hawk," "the duckling," "the submissive," and on and on and ON), a dozen or more on the average page, sometimes two or three in a single sentence! My guess is that this stemmed from the author either worrying about repeating the characters' names too often (which is silly, names are as invisible on the page as "said"), and/or from her being unsure of how to handle pronouns in an M/M story without confusing the reader (which is admittedly not easy but still something I expect a published author to manage). One or two epithets a paragraph is usually enough to make my eye twitch, so this was pretty tough for me to get over and definitely took away from my enjoyment of the story.

The other issue was the pacing in the middle third of the book. The first third of the book had a strong hook, drew me right in, made me care intensely about Ori and his master and want to know everything I possibly could about the brilliant world Dare created. The last third was heartbreaking, sad, sweet, beautiful, engrossing . . . I seriously lack the adjectives to describe how compelling and wonderful and emotional the last third of this book was, or how satisfying the ending was. But the middle third (after Ori had settled into his master's home but before he completes his full shift) really began to drag, enough that I began to think about not finishing. If you find yourself in the same position--STICK IT OUT! The last third of the book will carry you away, keep you up half the night, and you'll be glad for every second of lost sleep because it meant you got to read act 3. 

So, this one's a definite "recommend" for me--READ IT!--and I'm looking forward to picking up the next Kim Dare book in my TBR :)


  1. I had this book also highly recommended. I originally picked it up for the avian shifter aspect. I thought it was quite the original take on the whole shifter thing. I think I have realized that TPE is just not my thing so this book didn't totally sing for me, but for someone who is more into that, I think this was really well done and a really interesting story.

  2. Yeah, I can see that--it might well take a certain... sympathy, maybe, for the idea of TPE to enjoy this book as thoroughly as I did. But, like you, it was actually the worldbuilding that intrigued me most.


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