Raising the Bar (States of Love #42)
Title: Raising the Bar (States of Love Book 42)
Author: Leigh Dillon
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 7, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 91 pages
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Read book blurb here
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 reputation and fortune.
I like the premise of this story and the setting, and Dillon writes interestingly about horses, riding and training. However, in the personal arena, Destin and Tonio are so lightly fleshed-out (we only get Destin's POV throughout) it is difficult to become invested in their lives and their romance. There is little sizzle between the two and one on-page sex scene, with others fading to black. The story is fraught with misunderstandings and miscommunication, and each man leaps to conclusions with more consistency than Black Sambuca. The ending comes about somewhat abruptly, and personally I would have liked 40-50 additional pages to really develop the characters and give their relationship a chance to deepen rather than rushing to the epilogue.
While I enjoyed the equine part of this novella, I personally needed more character development and gave "Raising the Bar" 3 stars.