Rivaled (Kensley Panthers Book 4) by Nicole Dykes

Noah is a small town high school football coach that has never been able to explore his bisexual side. When he meets his new assistant coach he has to weigh the risks of starting a relationship that may end his career. But Chance is worth the risk, and Noah is willing to put his small hometown to the test for love. Rivaled is part of the Kensely Panthers series.

From the blurb:

Noah Asher

Coach. That’s who I am. The strong, levelheaded, always-dependable coach.
But then my wife left me. And my daughter—well, according to the town—she ran off and left me too. Now I’m branded with scandal.
My reputation is at stake, and I have to play by the rules if I want to keep my job.
But then . . . Along comes Chance Leighton—a rule breaker with a scandal of his own. And worse, he’s not from here. He’s a Big Bend Bear.
I need to keep my head down and follow the rules of this town. This town that’s kept me in their perfect package since day one.
But he makes me want to rebel. To break free and live my life how I want.
So I have a choice to make. A choice that rivals all others. One that’ll change everything.

Chance Leighton

He’s the coach. I’m an outsider.
There’s no bigger rivalry than the one between the Big Bend Bears and the Kensley Panthers. But here I am, forced to work alongside Kensley’s stubborn, grumpy coach.
There’s no way he’ll give me a shot. He sees me how they all do—wrapped up in scandal and exiled from the only place I’ve ever called home.
Just for being who I truly am.
He follows the rules. He believes in a strict structure. It’s worked for him. But I want to chip away at this town’s idea of him and see the real man.
Can rivals become friends? Can they become even more?
I don’t know the answer to that, but we’re about to find out. Because he’s so much more than who this town makes him out to be.
It’s up to him, but I’m ready for the challenge if he’ll just reach out and take it.

SNik's Review:

Fourth in series (Kensley Panthers), but can be read as a standalone. Age gap. Coworkers. Dual POV. 

Coaching football is Noah’s life, but in a small town the scandal of getting divorced and having his daughter marry her former teacher weighs on his shoulders, and he doesn’t want to jeopardize his job further by coming out as bisexual. But when he meets his new assistant coach Chance, getting over that Chance is from a rival town is  hard, but fighting his attraction to the younger man is even harder. 

The honest communication between Chance and Noah was beyond sweet, the slow build of their attraction and relationship was comforting, and there were plenty of steamy interactions that added to their romance. 

I really appreciated that there was no high angst surrounding their relationship, and there were supportive secondary characters for them. 

Really nice addition to the series with an HEA for two deserving guys.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Angel's Review:

I have read every single book so far in this series and I've enjoyed each one in different ways. I've been eagerly awaiting for Coach's story and I'm so glad we finally got it! I have to say that Rivaled is the less angst filled book, it's full of fluff, and sweet and endearing moments which I loved! Noah, (coach) is a grump, but he's a grumpy who loves his daughter, his barn cats, and Christmas. When Chance entered his world he wasn't sure what to make of him, other than the fact he was a 'kid' and the enemy considering he was a Bear. But overtime Noah became friends with Chance and then that friendship morphed into so much more. 

I thought this book was well written, which is no surprise. I knew this book was going to be not only well written, but that it would also have terrific characters along with great details! I adored the focal point on the holidays in this book, I loved that Noah brought Chance Halloween themed donuts cause that was Chance's favorite holiday, and how Chance made Christmas a priority since that is Noah's favorite holiday. It was cute, and special. And obviously I loved the fact that they got puppies, I mean... How could you not love that? I'm so curious to find out who's story is going to bring this series to a close, I can't think of who it'll be so it's going to be a surprise! 

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Jacqueleen the Reading Queen's Review:

"I'm forty today. And apparently, I have a boyfriend."

Noah and Chance were not what I expected. I thought they would spend much of the book hating each other simply because of the football rivalry between the Panthers and the Bears. I was wrong. I was so wrong. Sometimes it seems like the simplest of things can bridge a gap you didn't know was there until someone crosses it. A friendship which leads to a shared secret. Shared pain. The other person becoming someone you don't want to ever have to live without. That's what Chance and Noah's story is about. It was absolutely lovely.

I adored these two together. Their romance was just the sweetest. Even though they were hiding their relationship, it didn't make the bond between these two any less strong. They thrived together. Neither held any grudges and when they were having an issue it may take them a little bit but they made sure to talk about it like adults. I honestly didn't even notice their age gap except for when Chase was teasing Noah about it. They just fit together so well and I was so happy the way everything turned out in the end.

The next book is Zach and Adam's story. This one is a long time coming folks and to say I'm excited for it is the understatement of the year. These two have been dancing around each other enough. I believe their book is also meant to be the last, but I will mention that if this author wanted to give us a story about a certain Brandon who is mentioned in this one I would definitely not say no to that. His story broke my heart and I'd like to see him living his best life as well.

Rating: 5 Stars

Tatted_book_freak's Review:

When Nicole initially announced the final book of the Kensley series featured Coach Asher, I was taken aback, knowing Nicole is strictly a MM author. Then, when Chance appeared, from a rival school at that with his own secrets, all bets were off! 

𝐼’𝓋𝑒 𝓃𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓇 𝓉𝑜𝓁𝒹 𝒶𝓃𝑜𝓉𝒽𝑒𝓇 𝓈𝑜𝓊𝓁 𝒾𝓃 𝓂𝓎 𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝓇𝑒 𝓁𝒾𝒻𝑒. 𝐼’𝓂 𝓈𝒾𝓁𝑒𝓃𝓉𝓁𝓎 𝒷𝑒𝑔𝑔𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝒽𝒾𝓂 𝓃𝑜𝓉 𝓉𝑜 𝓂𝒶𝓀𝑒 𝓂𝑒 𝓇𝑒𝑔𝓇𝑒𝓉 𝒾𝓉.

What Noah and Chance were forced to endure, is the exact reason I despise small minded people in a small town setting. When Chance shared his story with Noah, my heart broke because rumors are the epitome of vile ignorance. And, Noah, I felt his pain when he was speaking. 

“𝓨𝓸𝓾 𝓰𝓲𝓿𝓮 𝓶𝓮 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓰𝓸-𝓪𝓱𝓮𝓪𝓭, 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓘’𝓵𝓵 𝓰𝓲𝓿𝓮 𝔂𝓸𝓾 𝓮𝓿𝓮𝓻𝔂 𝓫𝓲𝓽 𝓶𝓸𝓻𝓮.”

Chemistry was evident right from the start, never keeping their hands off the other. But, this also hurts their connection, which was honestly never felt. Their relationship formed based solely on sex, never witnessing the blossoming beauty of love. 

“𝕀 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕜 𝕚𝕥’𝕤 𝕘𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕤𝕠𝕞𝕖𝕠𝕟𝕖 𝕚𝕤 𝕒𝕣𝕠𝕦𝕟𝕕 𝕥𝕠 𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕝𝕝𝕖𝕟𝕘𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦.”

LeAnn’s cameo was hilarious!! I don’t think even I would have handled her surprise in stride like her. AND!!! We finally have a baby girl!!!

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Heather's Review:

Sweet with little relationship angst, the burgeoning rivals to lovers story in Rivaled gets it's angst and drama from small town Kensley and the rabid football culture that seems to pervade... along with a few vocal and small minded townsfolk.  

The love story has beautiful chemistry and the fire picks up as these two go from rivals to friends to lovers fairly quickly, but feel they need to hide their relationship to save their jobs.

I truly love how key people are supportive and I truly hope that the principal gets to see his son again in a future book!

Rating: 5 Stars

Rivaled is available to buy as an ebook, paperback, hardback, or to read with Kindle Unlimited subscription.