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Raising the Bar

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  23 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Destin Bellingham has inherited a problem. Thanks to his late playboy father, Destin faces putting a For Sale sign on his family’s historic horse farm. Getting his talented stallion, Black Sambuca, into the Grand Prix show ring would put Bellmeade back on the map—if only someone could make “Sam” behave like a show horse.

Disgraced top rider Tonio Benedetto has his own probl
ebook, 91 pages
Published September 7th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
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3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  23 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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I liked this a lot. It's a quick read, at under 100 pages, and it has one fabulous horse inside.

There are actually three MCs in this book - Destin, the horse farm's owner, Tonio, the horse rider who comes to the farm to help Destin, and Black Sambuca, the horse that everyone thinks is uncontrollable.

The romance is swift and the sex is hot, but the scenes in the barn with Tonio and Black Sambuca were my favorite. I have ridden horse for a very long time, and I know exactly what it's like when you
Serena Yates
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018, gay
Starring two men from opposite ends of the spectrum in almost every way, this entertaining novella full of surprises, laugh-out-loud scenes, and touching moments shows the importance of building trust and never giving up – be it professionally or personally. Destin and Tonio, at least initially, agree on only one thing: getting Destin’s prize stallion, Sam, to the point where he can enter the Grand Prix show ring and behave like the show horse he is supposed to be. Sam is the key to getting Dest ...more
The author does a good job of setting the stage for this novella about a Virginia horse breeding farm which has fallen upon hard times after the death of the elder Bellingham, who squandered money on fast cars rather than breeding fast horses. His son Destin pins his hopes on a talented jumper named Black Sambuca ("Sam" for short) who refuses to jump in the show ring. He brings in Tonio, a top-notch rider who has struggled with fighting and drinking, in an attempt to rebuild the farm's reputatio ...more
3.5 stars

Destin Bellingham inherits near bankrupt family horse farm after the abrupt death of his father. His only way to probably save the farm is in to get Black Sambuca, a talented stallion that has a mind of his own, into grand prix. Destin decides to hire a top rider, Tonio Benedetto, who is famous to work with problematic horse but also infamous for his bad-boy and drinking reputation. But Destin doesn’t have any choice. If “Sam” cannot get into the Grand Prix, he may lose his family farm.
Joyfully Jay
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: elizabeth
A Joyfully Jay review.

4 stars

This is a short story, but a charming one. Tonio and Destin are good for one another and I loved some of the small touches, such as Tonio not being able to solve the impossible horse problem in the first five minutes, that Destin and the vet and other trainers hadn’t overlooked something obvious. I appreciated that the solution — to both Destin and Sam — was simply helping them look at the world in a different way so they could see it wasn’t a scary place. I would h
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Full review available at:

Raising the Bar by Leigh Dillon is part of Dreamspinner’s States of Love series. This book takes place in Virginia. I liked the storyline and the flow of the book. The book is only ninety-one pages long, so it’s a nice quick read, perfect for relaxing when you only have a couple of hours. Definitely recommended for people who enjoy opposites-attract storyline and problem show jumper horses. I happen to like both of those character
Ruthie Taylor
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
~~I received a free copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads ~~

I am really enjoying this series of novellas from a variety of talented authors. In this one we meet two men who have a mutual background in raising and riding horses, but very different views on their sexuality. As they have to work together to try and restore the fortunes of the Bellingham family and Bellmeade estate.

As Destin puts his faith in disgraced rider, Tonio to tame his horse Black Sambuca, he also finds he m
Jules Lovestoread
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Maybe closer to 3.5 stars...But, I really enjoyed this little book. Especially the setting and the horses! :) Could have used more relationship development for sure - but, I was definitely rooting for both Destin and Tonio. <3
Jen Drummond
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Wanted to love this but every potential plot point felt skipped over...nothing happens and you have no investment in any of them. There's no true plot with Black Sumbuca's training, and the relationship just 'happens' and flips hot and cold in a completely unrealistic way. Disappointed as I was so happy to see a book with an equestrian theme other than cowboys!
Love Bytes Reviews
Sep 22, 2018 rated it liked it
2,5 heart review by Kat

A new States of Love entry from Dreamspinner Press. This time is a horse farm in Virginia.

The historic Bellmeade Horse Farm had fallen on some rough times in the recent years however Destin Bellingham had no idea how much his late, drunk father had squandered and wasted until the farm fell into his lap. Now he is trying to pick up what’s left of the family estate but unfortunately there’s not much left to work with. They had been a very successful bred farm for many years
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Blurb is a bit overly dramatic, but is a fairly accurate summation of the book.

With the passing of his father, Dustin inherited a failing stable. He is banking on one horse to save the estate, but the horse is proving impossible to train. So he hires Tonio off the recommendation of his lifelong friend Al, and finds he has a hot headed, recovering alcoholic on his hands. From Dustin’s point of view, he just put the final nail in the failing stables coffin.

I enjoyed the backdrop for this latest
Natosha Wilson
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I actually enjoyed this book. It is different then the normal books that I read but I enjoyed this book. It is one of those books that the two main characters find one another just when the need each other the most.

Destin inherited the family horse farm. Only problem is he also inherited his fathers cash problems and the fact that his father has pretty much ran down what used to be one of the most respected horse farms around but now with more of the mates being sold off and only one horse that
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: m-m
I don't pay attention to how long a book is in making my rating. This book was fairly short but the story was also not very good so 2 stars it is. The MC's were the owner of a formerly, very prestigious breeding farm (for jumping horses) in decline from mismanagement and the other MC a use-to-be sought after rider of show horses who's reputation has been sullied by his drunkeness (and maybe his out and out gayness).

The rider is hired by the owner to try and make a real show horse out of the one
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

For the full review, visit

From that review: "I really enjoyed this latest romance from the States of Love line at Dreamspinner Press.  Raising the Bar (States of Love) by Leigh Dillon hits a number of chords with me, starting with the state (Virginia) and horses, a long time love.  I've been around shows and show barns here in the East all my life so the world she writes about is vert familiar.  I have
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
** 3.75 Stars **

I won't lie, I would have liked it to be much longer. The story is good, the characters interesting and I do so love horses! I feel there's so much more to be told! I would have like to know how the characters become who they are and what happens to them afterwards! But in spite of that, I liked it a lot!
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Leigh Dillon is a native of horse-happy North Central Florida but has deep family roots in the Virginia and West Virginia areas. Coming of age in the dinosaur days of cable television, when fledgling channels filled their empty blocks of programming time by airing entire equestrian competitions, Leigh’s young brain became infected with a lifelong mania for show jumping, three-day eventing, and oth ...more