Have you read the Ugly Duckling? This is a tale by Hans Christian Anderson, about a homely little bird born in a barnyard, abuse by those around him until the day he matures into a beautiful swan.
I have read two books based on the Ugly Duckling trope and both of them are firm favourites.
One of the first books I read in the M/M Romance genre was Duck! by Kim Dare, and is still one of my all-time favourite books.
Blurb: 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?
What I love about Duck!… actually, I love everything about the story. The relationship between Ori and Raynard and the way they learn from each other. The beautiful shifter tale interwoven between the Master/submissive relationship. What happens when Ori finally shifts… I ache for them both at this point. And the point I want to thump Raynard for being so blind. If there is a truly perfect fairytale in this genre, this is it. This is a story to cuddle up to with hot chocolate and a roaring fire. If you’ve never read it, now is the time.
By complete contrast, one of the newest books I’ve read in the genre is Romancing the Ugly Duckling by Clare London, and I’m equally giddy about this one.
Blurb: Is this the makeover of a lifetime?
Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.
Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.
Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.
This is a tale of a man who’s never truly looked at himself until someone special shows him the truth. Grab that hot chocolate, chuck another log on the fire, and prepare to be entranced by Greg and Perry. Entranced is not a word I’d usually employ in an M/M book, but this is gorgeous and gentle, and just wonderful *sigh*. I wanted to cuddle them both. The Scottish island setting just gives it a little twist too and the islanders made me giggle.
Both books take the Ugly Duckling tale and make it gloriously their own. Read them, love them, enjoy.