William J. Mann, author of The Men From the Boys
Hotter Than Hell lives up to its name; Simon Sheppard sets the pages on fire.
Marilyn Jaye Lewis, reviewer for The Erotica Readers Association, on www.marilynjayelewis.com
Men are my favorite thing in the universe and the stories in Hotter Than Hell feature every kind of man imaginable. They are complex characters, well rounded and believable, comfortable within their masculinity and, for the most part, very comfortable being gay. Sheppard captures a “humanness” in his characters, though, that goes beyond the boundaries of sexual preference. This is why I think the book works so well. Despite our gender differences, or sexual tastes, at the core of each of us is simply the quality of being human. You may not enjoy engaging in fellatio, anal sex, fisting, or any of those other things men seem to truly excel at when you turn your back for even one minute, but you will most likely relate to the emotions these characters embody so completely.
Setting, plot, and character types differ from one story to the next. You’ll probably be amazed by Sheppard’s facile imagination and his ability to choose just the right words to express how aroused his characters feel. He accomplishes what only gifted storytellers can accomplish: He makes you feel excited about just being yourself. If you’re gay, bisexual, or love men, you will not regret buying this book.
Get ready for something unexpected, something that might startle you, something a little weird. Get ready to be turned on. Get ready for "Hotter Than Hell" and 25 other stories by one of the best creative gay scribes of the day, Simon Sheppard.
Paul Willis in Unzipped Magazine, December 2001
Sheppard’s work pulls an erotic trigger. He'll arouse you in the traditional sense with this newest collection of steamy stories, but he goes one step further by drawing the reader in so completely you'll find yourself actually wanting to be one of the characters. In "After the Beep," a man submits to the commands of an unknown caller who frequently leaves explicit instructions on his answering machine for him to pleasure himself (while the caller may or may not be watching). "Trailer Trash" is a sweet love story between two boys who wonder if their connection will continue after one heads off to college. Sheppard also takes the reader to exotic lands as in "Glyph" (in which two men hook up in Antgua, Guatemala) and "A Puja to Ganesha" (which takes place on a train traveling through India). Sheppard unearths forgotten memories and hidden desires by not only exploring the physical act of sex, but also its emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects.
Oberon in Blue Food (www.bluefood.cc), December 2001
I have to admit something here. Though I've been aware of Simon Sheppard as a writer for quite some time, I had never actually read any of his stories. Maybe that's why, sitting down to crack this collection of short steamy selections from his repertoire of man-to-man smut, I was instantly overwhelmed by the ease with which he directs the imagination into fertile fields of crotch-hardening lust. Though not for every taste, Sheppard's works are nonetheless beautifully written and boldly evocative--the kind of stories which stay burned into the mind's eye long after the kleenex has been flushed away and clothes rearranged into some semblance of societal normalcy.
Kicking off this collection of 26 deliciously deviant offerings is the title story, which makes for a wonderful introduction to Sheppard and his work. Thoroughly engrossing--and more than a little daring with its teenage protagonist seducing men twice his age--Hotter Than Hell perfectly captures that hormone-driven period in every young man's life when sexual discovery is his first thought as he wakes in the morning and the last as he goes to bed at night. Contrast that with the delicately-written Geezers, which expertly treads ground not often found in gay literature--that of the sex life of the over-sixty set--and does so without losing any of the lusty momentum set by stories featuring men half the protagonist's age.
Nice dichotomy, but make no mistake, these stories are about men having sex with other men. Pure, simple and to the point. The plots which surround these men and their overactive libidos, however, are varied and often surprising. As in Digby J. Lustgarden's Daring Device, wherein an old-fashioned travelling "charlatan on wheels" brings not snake oil and tonics to the dusty folk of a small Kansas town, but instead a miracle of science called the Orgasmatron. Or the lyrical mysticism of There Are Things Which Are Hidden From The Eyes Of The Everyday, in which a disillusioned veteran of the Great War finds peace through the soft mouths and dancing eyes of naked Moroccans.
Then there's the astonishing series of what appear to be nostalgic reflections of a life spent exploring the seamier side of gay San Francisco. From the first person accounts of the Harvey Milk riots in History, Scar to the hippy, dippy delights of acid trips and first-time fucks in Midsummer Of Love, these stories are as gritty as real life gets and further proof that Sheppard knows his craft. Enough to flow effortlessly from fantasy to reality and back again without so much as a bump.
There are more, so many more, such tales of seduction and pleasure within the pages of Hotter Than Hell. Tales which open doors to fantasmagorical places and familiar practices. Tales which are, as the title implies, hotter than most erotica found on this physical plane of existence. And you can bet, the next time I see Simon Sheppard's name in an anthology, I'll be all too eager to find out what he has to say..