4 1/2 stars.
I suppose most of us who read smut at all have at least one embarrassing kink. Mine is tentacles. And not just tentacles, but a small sub-sub-genre I've seen called "consentacles." Not tentacle rape, but tentacle loooove. LOL. On top of that I much prefer M/M to M/F. I don't get to enjoy my little idiosyncrasy much, and hardly ever outside of fanfic. So I was very happy to hear about this little anthology full of tentacle romance.
A good tentacle story (IMHO) needs a couple of ingredients. Tentacles are appealing partly because they are a bit scary - they overwhelm the victim. But since this is romance, they need to also be overwhelming in the good way. Slightly scary while entirely delicious. I will leave it at that, since there is a reason I read this stuff rather than writing it. Tentacle stories also need some good world building (because why are there tentacles??) And the romance needs to somehow take place in a satisfying way amongst all these other constraints. I was prepared to be somewhat forgiving of this anthology and be happy if it was only halfway what I wanted, but I didn't need to grade on a curve, because it was awesome. Now to the stories.
Ground Mission by Layla Hunter: I loved this one. It was good science fiction as well as good tentacle romance, and science fiction is my first love. Simon and Adrian (with an A!) care a lot about each other, but they are flash-frozen between missions, which limits their time together. They have no time - for each other, for relaxation or fun, for a life. They receive surprise "upgrades" while in stasis and don't know when or where or even who they will be from one interval to the next. The world building was provided in a few paragraphs, but it was intriguing and well done. I would like to spend more time in this world.
It is true as some have noted that the resolution curing their tentacle outbreak and allowing them to stay on the planet is a bit cursory, but I found it satisfying. I will be looking for more from this writer.
Wildwood by Thea Hayworth: This was a fantasy story, but even though I am not as big a fan of fantasy as scifi in general, I liked this one almost as much as Ground Mission. The world building was lovely and getting to know Koster and his mysterious Fae counterpart was fun. The Fae's form was unusual and interesting as well.
Dark Covenant by Gryvon was my least favorite story. The non-con was truly icky, and the villains were both entirely evil and completely stupid. I did very much enjoy Eli's emerging powers and finding out more about Eramus, but these elements didn't make up enough of the story for me, and the ending was too abrupt to be satisfying.
Situation Normal by Morgan Harcourt was perhaps not as deep and complicated as some of the other stories, but it was really fun. It takes place on a spaceship and Sebastien and Ten's meeting and interactions are hilarious. The bad guy really is pretty scary and the suspense ramps up when he makes his appearance. BDSM isn't really my thing, but I found it believable and was happy for the guys to find such a good match in each other. The ending may drag a little - but just a little.