Leigh Dillon on Writing, Characters and her new release ‘Raising the Bar (States of Love) by Leigh Dillon’ (guest post, and excerpt, )

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Raising the Bar (States of Love) by Leigh Dillon

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner PressBooks2Read

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Leigh Dillion here today talkaing about her new novella Raising the Bar. Welcome, Leigh.

 

 

Hello, and thank you for stopping by to check out my new novella, Raising the Bar! This story started out as a story about horses and, oh yeah, a couple of guys. To my surprise, it quickly turned into a study of two men with completely opposite character traits. Every story I write becomes a meet-and-greet at some point, with characters who started out as vague concepts suddenly taking on personalities I never planned for them. In this case, what started out as a simple contrast of conservative character vs. outspoken character morphed into Irresistible Force vs. Immovable Object. Only this time, it turns out the irresistible force secretly longs to be stopped, and the immovable object needs a good boot to the rear to wake him up! Speaking truth is bad manners in some circles, but sometimes it’s good to clear the air and decorum be damned. Tonio Benedetto turned out to be quite the advocate of speaking one’s mind, as you can see in the excerpt. But do you think it was wise, or is it just one more way to blow up a promising love affair?

Blurb:

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 problems, but he can work magic with difficult jumpers, so Destin hires him despite his bad-boy reputation.  The street-smart, openly gay loudmouth from Miami and the closeted, buttoned-down son of Old Dominion Virginia make a rocky pairing, but time is running out to save Bellmeade from bankruptcy.

Opposites attract, sparks of tension grow into flames of passion. But if Tonio fails to tame Sam, will true love become a lost cause too?

 

Excerpt:

“Why so grim?” Tonio asked.

“Probably because I’m feeling pretty grim right now.”

“Uh-oh. Bad news?”

“Just the usual.” Destin shook his head. “If Sam doesn’t jump, this farm is going down the toilet. Not today, not tomorrow, but next year, if something doesn’t change, it’s going on the auction block.”

“Hey, I’m trying, okay?” Tonio wrinkled his forehead. “Whatever’s going on with Sam, it’s different than stuff I’ve dealt with before. I know I’ll crack him, but right now I just haven’t figured out what direction I need to come from.”

“I understand, and I’m not blaming you.” Destin paused, practicality battling with panic. “I know you’re trying. I appreciate what you’re doing more than I can put into words. It’s just that I’ve been thinking about things, and I’m starting to wonder—” He broke off, not sure he could trust his voice to stay calm.

Tonio’s face tightened, and he pressed his full lips into a razor-thin line. “Hey, I’m still fighting,” he said. “You gonna quit on me?”

“I don’t want to, but what am I going to do? It’s a mess. It’s all just a huge….” Destin raised his arms and dropped them again.

“So yeah, you’re giving up.” Tonio released the girth and jerked the saddle off, his disgusted expression deepening.

“I am not giving up! I just don’t know what to do anymore.”

Tonio stopped stripping Sam and glared at Destin over the horse’s sweaty back. “Well, you sure as hell aren’t going to listen to me, are you?” he snapped. “I thought I had some pretty good ideas, but I guess Miami answers don’t cut it for Virginia problems, do they?”

Destin rubbed his eyes. The barn floor felt like it was spinning under his feet. Everything was spinning—out of control.

“I need to think,” he said, his voice oddly faint in his own ears. “Just give me time to think.”

“You know what?” Tonio’s eyes burned in the shaded light of the aisle. “You think too fucking much. You wanna keep this farm? Stop thinking. Stop blaming your dad. Get real and do something.”

“I am doing something. That’s what I brought you here for.”

“Yeah, and you’re sinking because you put all your eggs in one stupid basket and did. Not. Listen. To. Me!” Tonio punctuated each word with a finger-jab in Destin’s direction. “You’re not going to fight to keep this farm. You’re not gonna fight to keep me, either. You’re so used to people handing you things, you’re gonna run out the clock on our contract and let all of it swirl down the shithole, and that’s a fucking shame because I love Bellmeade, I could really get used to being with you, and unlike some people, I don’t feel like dumping everything in the garbage and walking away.”

 

About the Author

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 other exotic horse sports. Though tragically denied a pony of her own in childhood, Leigh has wreaked her revenge by including equine characters in almost everything she writes.

A bookbinder and librarian by trade, Leigh has also worked on local thoroughbred horse farms. Leigh’s short fiction has been featured twice in the Florida Writers Association annual story collection, and one of her book-length works received Book of the Year honors at the 2017 Royal Palm Literary Award.

Social Link:

https://www.facebook.com/Leigh-Dillon-Writes-229520631184036/?modal=admin_todo_tour

 

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Raising the Bar (States of Love) by Leigh Dillon

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

 

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 problems, but he can work magic with difficult jumpers, so Destin hires him despite his bad-boy reputation. The street-smart, openly gay loudmouth from Miami and the closeted, buttoned-down son of Old Dominion Virginia make a rocky pairing, but time is running out to save Bellmeade from bankruptcy.

Opposites attract, sparks of tension grow into flames of passion. But if Tonio fails to tame Sam, will true love become a lost cause too?

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 the horses and being in Maryland?  I know the scenery she’s talking about (and the towns) in Virginia like old friends.

The author did a great job with both.

They serve as a backdrop for the romance between Destin Bellingham, breeder and farm owner, and rider Tonio Benedetto.  I liked both the characters. Also had my issues with the instant love relationship between them.  I don’t always have that if the author can make a great argument for it and has a basis or chemistry between the characters.  I’m just not sure that I got that entirely here in this story.

The relationship between Tonio and the Sambuco Black?  I believed in that 100 percent!  That rocked!  Dillon had that relationship down pat.  That man and horse got each other and the reader knew it.  What a great character Sam was! Boy, have I known a horse or two like him in my time.  Not with his talent but his attitude and smarts.  Makes you both want to kill them and laugh your ass off.

The one between Destin and Tonio?  Needed some work even though they were jumping into bed, and love and total commitment.  Didn’t quite believe it in one month’s time.

Had the book and the relationship stretched over a longer length?  Absolutely because the ground work (as you do with any horse) had been laid.  And the epilogue, which took place in the Spring showed the growth that I wished we could have  been present to watch.

The only other thing?  If you are going to have a element in a story, like Destin and the Maserati, then close it out.  Don’t leave that aspect of the story open.  Even a line to finish that thread off is preferable than to leave it hanging.

I think Raising the Bar (States of Love) by Leigh Dillon has so much going for it.  A dynamic relationship between man and horse, a passionate one between two men, and a bright future.  At 91 pages, that was a lot to enjoy.  The States of Love line from Dreamspinners Press is a real hit and this story is another reason why.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  What a perfect cover for this story.  That’s Tonio and Sam to a T  going over the jump, and Destin too. Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 91 pages
Published September 7th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781640807365
Edition Language English
setting Virginia (United States)