Protector (Kensley Panthers Book 5) by Nicole Dykes

In this low angst read, it's time to say goodbye to the Kensley Panthers with Protector. Nicole shows us you can write an easy friends to lovers romance that just flows.

From the blurb:

Zachary Olson
I screwed up. Big time. I hurt someone, and I hate myself for it.
I’m barely eighteen and already completely exhausted. Tired of being haunted by secrets and guilt.
My biggest regret, though, is keeping it all from Adam—my best friend, teammate, protector. My everything since I can remember.
And how do I repay him? By keeping these secrets locked up inside. Secrets I know would destroy us.
But I’m not sure how much longer I can do it. No matter how catastrophic the consequences.

Adam Bates
He won’t talk to me.
He’s never kept secrets from me before. We’re both quiet guys who keep to ourselves. But that’s never applied to each other.
I know something is wrong, but my best friend has shut me out.
How can I keep him safe if he won’t talk to me?
All my life, I’ve taken on this role—doing what’s right, no matter what. Watching out for everyone, on and off the field—especially Zach.
And I won’t fail him now, when he needs me more than ever.
Because this is who I am and what I do . . .
I’m the protector.

Molly Otto's Review:

What a beautiful ending to an overall engaging series. Nicole took on a demisexual character this go around and handled it beautifully. I'm glad to see she took the time to understand this dynamic. Zach & Adam handled the change from friends to lovers in a way that we should aspire to when taking this leap. A refreshing low angst read that was a perfect pallette cleanser in the sea of high angst books I've been grabbing lately.

I'm looking forward to reading the spin-off series to see what comes next!

Rating: 4.5 Stars

SNik's Review:

Fifth in series (Kensley Panthers), but can be read as a standalone. Best friends to lovers. Hurt/comfort. Demisexual representation. Dual POV. 

Adam would do anything for his best friend, Zach. They are so much more than just friends, but Zach is keeping secrets and Adam wants only to help. Zach feels guilty about how he ended his first relationship, and he’s been keeping another secret - he’s gay, and wildly attracted to Adam. Once Adam and Zach share their worries, it allows for more than friendship to blossom. 

They are so honest and young, but intensely supportive of each other. Both Adam and Zach are mature for eighteen-year-olds, but they are so dedicated to their families and each other, which makes them admirable and likable, and I enjoyed all their interactions. 

Their closeness is undeniable, and the easy way they grow to become romantic is swoony, and eventually includes plenty of steam. 

I’m sad to see this series end, but the author has promised spin offs to look forward to.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Angel's Review:

I'm sad that this is the farewell book for the Kensley series, but what a way to end an incredible series. I have really enjoyed reading all of the books that have made up this series, and this one is my favorite of them all. Zach and Adam have been friends for forever. They grew up together and share everything with each other, well almost everything. 

I feel for Zach, he's in a difficult situation with his abusive stepfather and having feelings for his best friend. I adored when Zach said research to try to help Adam figure out what sexuality fit him best, which one sounded the closest to how he feels. I adored how protective Adam was of Zach and Zach's sisters. I liked how Adam's family didn't hesitate to help and care for them. I love the found family moments that occurred in this book!! 

I truly admire Adam's character. He knows his passion is his family's farm and building his own house, along with having Zach right beside him along the way. I personally could really relate to Adam's character. Spicy times and attraction just aren't something that is that important to me, and I love how that was spoken about. How feeling like that didn't mean there's something wrong with you, or that you're broken. It just means that what society normalizes isn't what you want or feel. I'm really glad that was part of this story. 

I loved the relationship that happened between Zach and Adam. I appreciated how they didn't drag their feet or angst about how each other really felt. Once they knew each other wanted the same thing, they were fully in the relationship. Which I enjoyed! The book was written really well, and I very much enjoyed reading this incredible friends to lovers story!! 

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Jacqueleen the Reading Queen's Review:

"π’©π‘œ 𝓂𝒢𝓉𝓉𝑒𝓇 π“Œπ’½π’Άπ“‰ 𝓉𝒽𝑒 π“Œπ‘œπ“‡π“π’Ή π“‰π’½π“‡π‘œπ“Œπ“ˆ 𝒢𝓉 π“Šπ“ˆ. π’©π‘œ 𝓂𝒢𝓉𝓉𝑒𝓇 π“Œπ’½π’Άπ“‰ π“Œπ‘’ 𝓃𝑒𝑒𝒹 π“‰π‘œ π‘œπ“‹π‘’π“‡π’Έπ‘œπ“‚π‘’. π’œπ“‰ 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝑒𝓃𝒹 π‘œπ’» 𝓉𝒽𝑒 π’Ήπ’Άπ“Ž, 𝒾𝓉'π“ˆ π’Ώπ“Šπ“ˆπ“‰ π“Šπ“ˆ.

𝒡𝒢𝒸𝒽 𝒢𝓃𝒹 π’œπ’Ήπ’Άπ“‚."

I just loved these two!! If ever there was a couple that was a perfect fit, it would be Zach and Adam. Not only are they best friends, but they are just so much alike. Both are stubborn as hell and protective of those they love. They aren't into the drinking and party scene. Spending time together on Adam's parents' farm or at the swimming hole is much more their speed. They pretty much spend all their free time with one another just like if they were already a couple, minus the sex.

It made me smile at how these two finally got together. It was just so natural for them. Yes, it was scary showing your vulnerabilities to someone, but that other someone was their person. I think deep down Zach knew Adam wouldn't be disgusted by him. And Adam knew Zach wouldn't think he was broken. I swear these two sealed the deal from their very first kiss. It was beautiful seeing Adam finally discover his sexuality while doing it with someone he loved.

Honorable mention has to go to the Bates family. They may not be perfect, but they come pretty darn close. It takes a true man to own up to his past mistakes, and I admire the heck out of Adam's dad for it. And his mother was a saint in another life, I swear. I was so glad Zach had them in his life to pick up the pieces left behind by his horrid and selfish mother. I have not one doubt in my mind that Adam and Zach are going to have the happiest life ever surrounded by a family who love them. Great ending to a much-loved series.

Rating: 5 Stars

Heather's Review:

I'm always sad when a series comes to it's conclusion... and leaving Kensley is going to be difficult, but there are two sparks of hope on the horizon, so I'll focus on the spin-offs while waxing poetically about Zach and Adam...

This book has all the new adult angst, coming out, taking on the world drama - at least in Zach's head... and I love how Zach and Adam support and take up for each other... opening up and being vulnerable at just the right times... the honesty, the pining, so good!

I also love how supportive Adam's family is to Zach, his sisters and their relationship.. it's so nice to see just how far they've come since the beginning o the series.

This is definitely a fitting finale to the Kensley Panther's series and I look forward to seeing this family appear in the crossover stories in the future!

Rating: 5 Stars 

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