Guarded; Kensley Panthers #2
(standalone within a series)
Publication Date: January 9, 2023
Genre/Tropes: New Adult/MM/Enemies-to-Lovers/Sports Romance
Author: Nicole Dykes
Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars
Wow, I just love Nicole’s books! Consistently, they are filled with big emotional punches, steamy passion, and I could read them forever.
I love a good enemies to lovers story, but more than that, I totally melt for characters who were once enemies find that common ground on whatever subject matter they finally connect over and then the chemistry between them totally explodes!! I mean seriously, there is nothing like the bubbling and brewing build up to that explosion, but when it happens it’s always amazing. I need to say that both boys were strong, and different, but nevertheless strong in how they navigated their paths throughout this story. I loved it.
Jameson and Garrison are at odds, going all the way back to kindergarten. They have never really been friends, even though they live in a small town so there isn’t much room to escape one another, which is the bigger problem when it comes to their sexuality. Garrison stumbles upon Jameson kissing another boy and because Garrison is known to be loud and sort of obnoxious, it only infuriates Jameson more that it was Garrison who discovered him. However, for Garrison he was happy it was him since he’s holding his own secret and he would never out someone when it’s their own secret to share.
These two misunderstand one another for so long that when the walls finally come down – or that explosion finally happens – while it’s a moment of steaminess, it’s also a little heartbreaking. Nicole is so great at mixing passion with big emotional moments, you are really there inside the characters head, living that experience with them so it makes everything brand new for the reader as well.
This story is so much bigger than just two boys falling in love. It surrounds small town life, living up to parent expectations and everything surrounding your life upon graduation. I loved how she tackled this book and I can’t wait to see how the next one plays out.
I have a secret. We all have secrets. I’m nothing special.
It just so happens, however, that my sworn enemy also knows my secret.
He’s the absolute worst person to know this, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
What he does with this information is totally out of my hands and completely in his.
This is why I’ve never let anyone in. I don’t trust easily. I keep to myself.
I’m closed off. Angry.
I shouldn’t have seen what I did.
I shouldn’t know what I do.
But how Bates can think I would ever say anything is beyond me.
Everyone thinks I’m just a big, dumb football player with nothing more to him.
The truth is I’ll never say a word about what I witnessed. I don’t care about it the way he thinks I do. I wouldn’t hurt him.
And I’d let him know that—all of it—if he wasn’t so damn . . .
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