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All Wrapped Up (Anthology 4-in-1)

by Laylah Hunter, Elizabeth Hyder (Editor)

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1221,643,232 (4.33)1
Tentacles are a taboo subject for most, something most people look at from between their fingers as they hide. But for a growing number of people, it's a subject that is fascinating and sexy! Tentacle erotica has been around for ages, from The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife to Demon Beast Invasion—it's a genre that is here to stay. "All Wrapped Up" explores this genre through the lens of gay erotic romance, offering four science-fiction and fantasy stories featuring tentacled heroes in all their wiggly glory. The men in "Ground Mission" are podmates, a matched set: Simon Pollux, the lethal scout, and Adrian Lovasz, his willing and even more lethal combat specialist. In the midst of exploring an alien world, Simon is infected with an alien virus; to what lengths will Adrian go to ensure Simon's comfort? In the wood-locked town of Orm, ranger Koster meets the mysterious Irsing: the guardian of the forest. Is he the one letting the forest turn to wilds, or is the forest turning to wilds on its own? In "Wildwood", Koster aims to do whatever it takes to set things right. Eli exchanges his a life of poverty in "Dark Covenant" when tricked into signing a contract giving himself to the masters of the Academy. His body, his movement, his life is theirs to do with as they wish, until the enigmatic Eramus offers Eli his power—if Eli will join with him. Sebastian Reed lives on the legal limits in "Situation Normal", barely scraping by in his hunk of junk ship until a Peace Officer, Ten, commandeers his ship... and his body. Not that Sebastian minds, except for wondering exactly where it is that Ten means to take him.… (more)
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Showing 2 of 2
3.5 stars rounded up because of the stories by Hunter and Harcourt


Ground Mission by Laylah Hunter - 4 stars
Futuristic. In general, I enjoyed it very much and I liked two aspects particularly: The setting and that fierce mutual loyalty between Adrian and Simon.
Between that I got so intrigued by this quote: ┬źnone of them really like to be reminded of the ways they've lost their past┬╗ and what I highlighted in the preceding sentence, I would be happy if there were more stories about this couple, or stories in this setting.


Wildwood by Thea Hayworth - 3 stars
A fantasy that gave me an alternative Dark Ages sense.
I had some issues with this story because of the slow pace during the first part and difficulties to visualize Irsing accurately. Besides, it was the only one from this bunch of stories in which I couldn't involve myself regarding the tentacles, that was more woody than boneless and flexible and that gives a bit of shudder to me.
Anyhow it's very worthy to read, what most caught my attention was how clearly Irsing's explicit speech as much its sub-text are both valid and converge to explain his behavior.
While Koster's quiet stubbornness is touching and the weight of Irsing's quasi-immortality saddens, the ending is moving to tears.


Dark Covenant by Gryvon - 2.5 stars
Fantasy. It's the darkest story. The background combines elements that seem inspired in several sources like Harry Potter, Scotland and Wales during the Industrial Revolution and Middle Ages.
This tale didn't work quite well for me due to a :
* Impossibility to envision Erasmus, his corporeality is occasional and blurred.
* Lack of explanation about some plot topics, specially concerning what type of relationship is the one that joins Eramus and Eli and why this o that fact; It's not clear either which is, or will be, Wesley's role, since it appears to be an undeclared attraction toward Eli. A story has no need to be exhaustive, giving answers to everything, but in this case, the ones that it gives are insufficient.
* Villains exaggerated to the caricature, and I'm not talking about an intentional caricaturization.
So, even if this let itself be to read, this story was almost unsatisfactory for me.


Situation Normal by Morgan Harcourt - 4.5 stars
Futuristic. A sarcastic, a bit cranky, and submissive spaceman meets the hottest lizardman of his dreams.
My favorite, wonderfully funny. Excellent pace, witty narrative and banter, sizzling sex with D/s play. I adored the playful tone that crosses along the story, even in the intense moments, without loss of efficacy.
The only reason why I don't give it 5 stars and entry to my Short Stories Paradise is because there aren't enough explanation about what happens during Red's sleep, when (and how, and why) Ten leaves the "boat" and Steal-the-Stars does his appearing in it. And this isn't a story that can tolerate such an omission without detriment.
Certainly Ms. Harcourt has made her way on my Authors-to-Watch List ( )
  Marlobo | Dec 24, 2022 |
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.

( )
  Charming2020 | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 2 of 2
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laylah Hunterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hyder, ElizabethEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Gryvonsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harcourt, Morgansecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hayworth, Theasecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Tentacles are a taboo subject for most, something most people look at from between their fingers as they hide. But for a growing number of people, it's a subject that is fascinating and sexy! Tentacle erotica has been around for ages, from The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife to Demon Beast Invasion—it's a genre that is here to stay. "All Wrapped Up" explores this genre through the lens of gay erotic romance, offering four science-fiction and fantasy stories featuring tentacled heroes in all their wiggly glory. The men in "Ground Mission" are podmates, a matched set: Simon Pollux, the lethal scout, and Adrian Lovasz, his willing and even more lethal combat specialist. In the midst of exploring an alien world, Simon is infected with an alien virus; to what lengths will Adrian go to ensure Simon's comfort? In the wood-locked town of Orm, ranger Koster meets the mysterious Irsing: the guardian of the forest. Is he the one letting the forest turn to wilds, or is the forest turning to wilds on its own? In "Wildwood", Koster aims to do whatever it takes to set things right. Eli exchanges his a life of poverty in "Dark Covenant" when tricked into signing a contract giving himself to the masters of the Academy. His body, his movement, his life is theirs to do with as they wish, until the enigmatic Eramus offers Eli his power—if Eli will join with him. Sebastian Reed lives on the legal limits in "Situation Normal", barely scraping by in his hunk of junk ship until a Peace Officer, Ten, commandeers his ship... and his body. Not that Sebastian minds, except for wondering exactly where it is that Ten means to take him.

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