Review: “Penalty Kiss” by Annie Dyer

Series: Manchester Athletic #1

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: January 27th, 2022

Add to Goodreads | (Available in KU)

CW/TW: parental abandonment, mentions of social service

Clean-living, wholesome, and with a constant smile plastered on her pretty face, Dee Jones is my antithesis.

She’s also what I’m told I need to polish my somewhat tarnished image – apparently being papped getting friendly with a fellow holiday maker on a sun lounger after your ex does a kiss-and-tell with the media isn’t exactly what Manchester Athletic deems great publicity for their bad boy midfielder.

A repair job is needed, and the club is hoping that the super shiny star player for the women’s team can transfer some of her good-girl sunshine stardust on to me.

But Dee hates me and I’m the last thing she wants to deal with right now, because Miss Dee has problems of her own. Problems that could score her an own goal.

She’s meant to be my penalty, but will she let me be her kiss instead?


I applied for an ARC of this book on a whim, but it totally paid off. Because Annie Dyer’s storytelling and the characters she’s introduced in this series have me hooked. I am completely obsessed with the football teams and I can’t wait to see what happens next! This grump x sunshine, enemies to lovers, forced proximity, sports romance was nothing like I expected, but everything that I needed when I was reading it. And the joy it brought me…there aren’t enough words to express that.

Penalty Kiss is the first in a new series, featuring the Manchester Athletic football club. The club has a men’s and a women’s team, both are wildly successful and are famous in their own ways. Rowan Reeves, the most sought after player for the men’s team, has just found himself in a little bit of trouble. An ex goes public with a whole heap of lies, a picture of him in a compromising position is spread out around the world and the club feels like Rowan is becoming a liability. So they’re giving him one chance to fix it with an apology tour of sorts, by pairing him off with Dee Jones, everyone’s favourite player on the women’s team. For Dee, she doesn’t have time to deal with Rowan and his antics. She’s not interested in what he has to say or what he’s trying to do. She’s doing her job and looking after her nephew because her sister keeps abandoning him, and there’s enough on her plate that she doesn’t need Mr. Popular to come in and mess things up for her.

I know that Rowan is supposed to be the grump, but I think it was definitely the other way around. Dee’s lack of patience for him makes her grumpy and he’s always trying to put a smile on her face by annoying her. Sure, in public the roles are reversed and he’s grumpy and she’s all sunshine, but when it’s just the two of them, things are completely different. And I absolutely loved that. These characters are opposites, with one thing in common—football—and I loved that the sport is what brings them together. I also loved that Rowan was aware of his shortcomings and tried to fix them because he knows how it impacts everyone else. 

“A kiss. 

It was all it ever took.

It was everything.”

Guys, Rowan is so swoony! We always expect alpha males who are top dog in their sport to be a bit of an a** and I know that’s generalising, but Rowan was so great. His love for the sport translates to his contributions to charity and then when he meets Dee’s nephew for the first time, he drops to his level to have a serious conversation with him, thus making him a part of Tobias’ life. And Rowan didn’t do any of this to get Dee’s attention, he just is a good guy. Dee is also so incredible. I love her passion and her drive, she’s stubborn and hard working, but when it comes to her family and her nephew, she drops everything to be there for them. I also admired how great she was at the sport, but didn’t use that to her advantage to make herself seem like a fancy athlete, she just works and does what she believes in and that’s it.

Their relationship is so much fun. Dee’s constant frustrations with Rowan fuel him to annoy her further, but it also brings them closer. There’s lots of great banter and dialogue between the two and you can see that Rowan’s slowly worming his way into Dee’s heart and life. I loved the gradual build up of their romance going from mostly strangers to lovers, but being drawn to each other the whole time anyway. The sexual tension and chemistry was explosive too, which was amplified the moment they come together for the first time. I was so captivated by their romance that I didn’t want to stop reading till I hit the end of the book. I loved how they leaned on each other, how they supported the other through the good and the bad, how they found ways to make their relationship work despite having all of Manchester and possibly even England watching their every move.

I loved this book so much that I cannot wait for the second one, because I am dying to know everything there is about Ryan and his mystery woman!

Thanks to Annie Dyer and Wildfire Marketing Solutions for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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