Title: Men I Might Have Known
Author: Brad Saunders
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M, mild erotica
Length: 352 pages (print; also ebook)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie
Everyone experiences it—that moment when you lock eyes with a perfect stranger and feel a shiver of requited lust. Too often, those opportunities slip by unexplored. But in this steamy, imaginative collection, Brad Saunders turns “what if” into “what happened,” recreating the sizzling chance connections he’s experienced—and playing them out in uninhibited stories that tap into our deepest fantasies about what can happen when we take the next step.
From a glorious day on a sun-kissed Greek beach with a beautiful German man, to a college crush that turns out to be deliciously mutual, these stories are sometimes tender, sometimes torrid, and always deeply erotic. A gym buddy provides a workout to remember…Venturing up to a Manhattan rooftop party yields a spectacular view—and not of the skyline…And on a city crosswalk, saving a handsome artist from traffic earns the kind of gratitude that can’t be conveyed in words.
Hedonistic threesomes, hot nightclub trysts, sweet and sensitive first times… whether set in exotic locales or on in your very own bed, these intimate, provocative stories inhabit the space between fact and fiction—where nothing is too wild or too wicked and the only limit to pleasure is your imagination…
I happened upon this book at Amazon after following a link from Kindleboards. When I saw that it had just been published this month, I asked Wave if she had a review copy. She did not but from the description, thought it would be good for a review here at the blog, so I went ahead and purchased it for myself.
Given that I have just spent the better part of my free Sunday reading this book, you might assume that I thought it was great. Not quite. It was good—certainly entertaining and it caught my attention—but in the end, there were enough persistent and consistent annoyances that forced me to mark it down to a 4 star rating.
As noted in the blurb, this is a series of 15 chapters in which the author posits, “What if?” Instead of turning down the good looking guy in the bar in Stockholm, instead of being too shy to speak to the gorgeous German guy on the tour bus in Mykonos, Saunders imagines what might have happened…if only… It’s a fun premise—after all, we all have those “what if” moments in our lives—and taking the stories to a different, sexy conclusion is certainly a satisfying foray into imaginative fantasy.
The trouble is, Saunders doesn’t let his imagination take full rein. The types of guys he likes and the type of sex he imagines himself having with these men gets very predictable early on. Meet up, go somewhere private, make out, get undressed, play with nipples, handjob, blowjob, intercourse, shoot “ropes and ropes of cum” all over the place, cuddle, kiss, next chapter. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The stories take place from the time the author was 18 and working as a camp counselor until he was 24 (or so) and living in New York City. During that time he spent a year traveling in Europe, so several of the chapters are enhanced with little travelogues of Paris, Vienna, Prague, Stockholm, Mykonos, and Glasgow. In fact, the set-ups in these chapters are almost more interesting than the sex scenes because they are more varied.
The predictable sex might have been redeemed if Saunders was a great writer, but he’s not. Just like his sex is plain vanilla, his writing is too—workmanlike, average—he gets his point across but not in a particularly interesting way. Plus, he has a tendency to use the same words repeatedly, one of my personal pet peeves. One memorable paragraph contained five sentences and the word “jeans” appeared six times!
Probably my mistake was to read this all in one fell swoop, which I did mostly for the purpose of this review. Had I spread out the stories over a period of days, enjoying each one on its own, I might not have noticed—or at least, not have minded as much—the predictability of the sex and the pedestrian writing.
I classify this as mild erotica. Erotica because the stories are designed to titillate; mild because this is pretty tame, as erotica goes. No bondage, no kinky stuff, not even any sex toys! There are two chapters with multiple guys (warning for those who hate ménage) but don’t worry: nary a woman in sight. This is M/M all the way.
For those who like their sexy stories to be safe and sane, or for those who are just dipping their toes into reading erotica, this book might be a good start. For those who want a bit more sizzle and kink, might I suggest I Like It Like That, which I reviewed earlier at this site. Similar premise but the latter, for me, was more satisfying overall. Men I Might Have Known does have the advantage of being available as an ebook, which makes it more accessible to an international audience.
In the end, I think the blurb promises more than the book delivers and for me, that was a disappointment. Hopefully this review will help you decide if it is right for you. I am sure there are plenty of people who will absolutely love this book—for me, like I said above, good but not great. Caveat emptor.