While My Wife’s Away (LenaR’s Review)

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Title: While My Wife’s Away
Author: James Lear
Publisher: Cleis Press
Release Date: July 11th 2017
Genre(s): Gay Erotica, Contemporary
Page Count: 240
Reviewed by: LenaRibka
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

To all appearances, Joe Heath is a typical straight married man, living with his wife and two teenage children, commuting to work, playing sports and going to the gym, enjoying a beer and a barbecue. But there are things about Joe that his friends don’t know. For one thing, his relationship with his wife has deteriorated to the point that they’re sleeping in separate bedrooms, only staying together until the kids have left home. And there’s something else: for the last few years, Joe has wanted to have sex with another man.

While My Wife’s Away recounts Joe’s recognition of his sexual nature in a series of encounters–some short, some repeated, some comic, some sad, all of them extremely hot in the way that only James Lear can make them. Each chapter is a self-contained episode from Joe’s life, but throughout the book we see him coming to terms with what he really is, and struggling with his feelings of guilt and betrayal as it becomes clear that his marriage is over. Much of the dramatic tension in the book arises from the difficulties of negotiating his family life with his new personal life, the awkwardness and potential disaster inherent in each situation.


James Lear…is incredible. He elevates gay erotica genre to a completely different skill level. If that day ever comes (let us be a bit optimistic – after all, TODAY is a historical day in Germany: our Parliament approved Same-Sex Marriage), then I believe James Lear’s literary achievement in THE GENRE will be worthy of a Nobel Prize (who could imagine 10 years ago that Bob Dylan would get it too?)

To tell the truth, I was worried when I saw the title of this book the first time. While My Wife Is Away? Really?! It sounded NOT like James Lear’s books, it sounded like…a trivial PWP novel that you can get on Amazon for free. Th0se one that is categorized as gay erotica. But…by all respect…there is a huge difference between James Lear’s gay erotica and gay PWP.

Now, when I finished it, I can say that the title is a perfect choice for the first part of the book, but still, IMO, it doesn’t show the profoundness of the story in WHOLE. Even if the author, as always, in his mind-blowing manner, delivers one voluptuously arousing sex scene after another, without even a faint hint of ANY repetition – be prepared! – the high art, considering the number of the sex scenes – but I don’t want to reduce this novel just to a masturbation stimulating read. If you won’t notice the inner psychological drama of the battles between lies and life, the moral and the need, the RIGHT and the WRONG; if you won’t see all the tragedy of unfulfilled lives or a pseudo marriage (there are always more than just one person involved) behind all these floating sexual excesses, then I can’t help you.

Talking about tragic…For all James Lear fans who expect not just a delicious erotica but also his famous snarky humor, I didn’t find this book actually funny.
Hot? Oh, YES. Thoughtful? Yes. Sarcastic? Yes, yes, yes. Great writing? What a stupid question! Romantic? Are you f* kidding me? Hmmmm…maybe…Funny? Not really. Good? Good is a big understatement. Do I want a sequel? NO. It is perfect how it is. Would I recommend it? Depends on. You want a MM Romance? Skip it. Your imagination of GAY EROTICA is a MM Romance book with extended sex scenes? Skip it. You want to be introduced to the BEST GAY EROTICA WRITER EVER? You are James Lear fan? You are gay? You appreciate an amazing writing? You have a similar book taste? My congratulations, it is YOUR book.

While My Wife’s Away is a brilliantly written coming-out story.
It doesn’t have a HEA, but it is a HFN. And I REALLY hope that Joe stops sticking his head in the sand and find a way of getting a grip on his life. I hope. I really hope.

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Galley copy of While My Wife’s Away provided by Cleis Press in exchange of an honest review.


A passionate reader from Germany. I learned to read at the age of 4 and never stopped since then, though my books from that time were very different from what they are now. English is my third language, and I'm sorry for all grammar mistakes I made in my reviews. But I assure you, that my reading English is much better than my writing English. I'm a seeker for the books that differ from mainstream, that provoke the reader or have very often very opposite ratings.