Toby has spent the last 10 years working at Whisperer Farm, helping with the horses and pretty much anything else that needs doing. Toby has watched the other guys on the farm find lasting loves, and he can admit that he wants that for himself. But Toby has only limited experience with women and none with men, and not much opportunity to find a partner.
Cole has come to Whisperer Farm to teach pilates and be closer to his baby daughter, Ella. He is used to life in London, not on the Cornish countryside, but he also needs a break from the city. Cole finds Toby immediately beautiful and intriguing, but Toby seems to have no sense of his own attractiveness. Toby is drawn to Cole as well, but his inexperience makes him nervous. When Cole offers to introduce Toby to sex, it seems like the perfect solution to both of them.
As the men spend more time together, their attraction continues to sizzle, but their emotional connection grows as well. But neither man expected the relationship to be long term. Toby can’t imagine Cole wanting him for long, and Cole figures Toby will move on to other partners without Cole’s baggage. Now, Toby and Cole must figure out if they are going to let go of what they have built, or if they are going to be honest about what they want and reach for a future together.
In The Sex Coach, Garrett Leigh takes a common romance trope and gives it a unique feel. While Cole is officially teaching Toby about sex, the men are honest with each other from the start about their feelings and their attraction. While neither is sure the other wants something long term, I enjoyed that there isn’t a lot of push and pull where both men are pretending that nothing more is going on between them than sex lessons. I’ll also note that while the title is kind of porny sounding, and Cole and Toby are super sexy together, the tone of this story is very dreamy and romantic. There is a kind of “out of time” feeling to the story, as the men are so isolated on the farm and their interactions are minimal with the outside world. There is just such a lovely tone here of two men slowly exploring one another and their connection to each other. Like I said, it’s quite sexy and the men are gorgeous together, but there is more than that going on here.
The conflict involves both men thinking the other isn’t looking long term, but it is more centered around Cole. He has had a rough time of late and hasn’t quite settled back down yet. On top of some anxiety issues stemming from his former job, he also has a baby and shares custody. So with all of that, plus relocating to the farm, Cole just feels like he doesn’t have enough to offer Toby. I do wish some of Cole’s issues had been delved into a little more. I feel like we get a surface sense of the problem, but not enough to really fully understand him or his hesitation over staying with Toby.
I’ll mention here that Leigh notes in the front matter that Whisperer Farm is also the location of her Skins series. She indicates this book is a standalone, and from a reader perspective as someone unfamiliar with Skins, I had no problem following along. But to me, this book feels very much like part of the original series. It takes place in the same setting and most of the characters from the other novels appear here and several play significant secondary roles. For example, Joe is Toby’s boss, close friend, and mentor, and appears in many scenes. Harry and Rhys are regular side characters and both have a history with Cole, as well as with Toby. The men and their relationships and their pasts are sort of assumed knowledge. So again, I had no problem following along here without reading those books, but I do think it is confusing to present this book as a standalone. That said, if you are familiar with Skins, you are going to want to read this one as well and catch up with the whole gang.
Overall, I found this a really lovely story. I was drawn to both Cole and Toby right away and found them such a great couple. They are sweet and sexy and truly care for one another. If you are looking for a romantic and sexy contemporary, definitely give The Sex Coach a try.