Ah, love in the workplace. Most of the time, it’s strictly forbidden and for good reason. Even if cozying up to co-workers is not against the rules, it can bring on all sorts of awkward feelings and weird tensions, because how can you focus on being professional when your co-worker is just so hot — especially when you’re forced to work in rather close proximity? I love a good workplace romance because I love a good romance (duh!) but I also love it when authors explore workplace settings that I’ve never personally been in, with all of their particular career challenges and varying work cultures. (Considering I work from home in leggings and slippers, most work settings that aren’t the public library or a coffeeshop are fresh and exciting to me!)
The ten books below take you from high-powered executive settings to behind the counter at a cozy yarn shop, and they feature everything from workplace rivals competing for the same goals to the oh-so-complicated joy and stress of being hot for the boss. But no matter the industry or workplace environment, these workplace romances will pull you in with their tension during the 9 to 5 work day, and leave you swooning with their after-hours steaminess!
Make Up, Break Up by Lily Menon
Annika Dev believes in romance and giving relationships a happily ever after, which is why her app, Make Up, is going to change the tech scene and dating for good. She just needs a little bit more money to get it fully off the ground. Hudon’s app Break Up is like Uber, but for ending relationships. His work is an anathema to everything Annika believes in…and he’s raking in money faster than anyone else out there. When Hudson moves into the office suite next to Annika’s, she has to see his smug face every day…and be reminded on the the one-night stand they had all those months ago. She vows to not get distracted by him ever again, but that becomes more difficult when the press and tech world continually push them together.
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Jo is a confident former child star turned award-winning powerhouse producer who is professional and focused, always. Emma is her younger, capable assistant who isn’t sure exactly what she wants to do with her life after dropping out of film school. When the two attend a red carpet event together and Emma says something to make Jo laugh, the moment is caught on camera and suddenly the paparazzi claim they’re in a relationship. Hounded by the press her entire life, Jo makes it a point to never comment on her love life, so her silence only adds fuel to the rumors. Now Emma and Jo find themselves navigating an awkward workplace arrangement all the while wondering…what if there’s something to these rumors after all?
The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel
Liya is a confident, successful businesswoman who happily lives on her own and doesn’t care what anyone in her parents’ traditional community thinks. So when she realizes that the latest dinner with her parents is actually a set-up with Jay, a very good-looking and respectable lawyer, she bails and refuses to feel guilty about it. But then she learns that Jay is her company’s newest legal consultant, and she can’t avoid him. Jay is a nice guy, but he can’t get over Liya’s rudeness, so he doesn’t plan on making it easy on her. As they clash at work, they find that despite their mutual distaste, they have common ground in a lot of things. And when the company is in jeopardy, they work late hours to try and save it…falling for each other along the way.
The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the best burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding
Abby is unapologetically fat and into fashion, so when she nabs a summer internship at her favorite size-inclusive boutique, she’s over the moon. Summer internships usually lead to jobs, which means she could finally kickstart her career in fashion and live her dreams. But the only problem is that on her first day, she learns she’s sharing the internship with Jordi Perez, who has zero fashion sense but is a gifted photographer. Abby sees this situation for what it is: a competition. But the more time she spends working with Jordi, the more she finds herself…falling for her?
Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson
Kerry has worked at Strong Knits for years, and she devastated when the owner, Mama Joy, dies. She figures the shop is done for — it takes a strong-willed person to make a go of running a small business in Harlem, and Mama Joy was one of a kind. But Kerry is shocked when Jesse, one of Mama Joy’s sons, steps forward and shows interest in taking over the shop. He asks Kerry for help, and she tentatively agrees to stay on long enough to show him the ropes. Secretly, she’s freaking out. She used to have the biggest crush on Jesse when they were kids, but he’s a known player. Is he grown up enough to take on running a business — and more importantly, is he mature enough to handle a real relationship?
Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
Emma is a young woman with a mostly great life — she’s got a nice boyfriend, great friends, and she likes her job…but she’s also mildly embarrassed by all the things she doesn’t know. While flying back from a trip, Emma, who is terrified of flying, is seated next to a handsome stranger. When the plane hits some rough turbulence, all of Emma’s secret thoughts and insecurities come bubbling out and she confesses them to her handsome seat mate. Embarrassing, but it’s not like she’ll see him ever again, right? Wrong. On Monday, she discovers that the man she confessed all her secrets to (including more than a few complaints about work) is the CEO of her company. Whoops. And what’s worse is that he doesn’t just want to forget about it — he might actually want to date her!
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Lucy and Josh absolutely loathe each other, and it’s no secret to anyone who works for them. They both serve as executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing house, and they couldn’t be more different. The only thing they have in common is that they’re both pretty great at their jobs. But when a promotion opportunity arises for both of them, the competition is fierce. And as they go toe-to-toe and the passive-aggressive exchanges escalate, they have to face the cold, hard truth: Maybe they don’t really hate each other after all.
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Shay has worked at a Seattle public radio station for years as a producer, and she knows she’s excellent at her job. What she’s not excellent at is getting along with the newest hire, Dominic, who has a journalism master’s degree and is convinced that piece of paper is worth way more than Shay’s hands-on experience. When she proposes a new program idea — getting exes to share relationship advice on air — her boss is enthusiastic. But then he decides that Shay and Dominic will cohost as fakes exes, since they already clash. The two hate the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s not long before the show takes off and becomes a hit…and Shay and Dominic find themselves falling for each other. Bonus: If you love this one, keep an eye out for Solomon’s next workplace romance, Weather Girl, set at a TV station!
Hot Copy by Ruby Barrett
Corrine is a hardworking executive — the youngest in her office! — who earns a reputation as being hard to work with simply because she’s a straightforward woman in the workplace. When her new intern, Wes, laughs at a mean joke told at Corrine’s expense, she is determined to keep him at a distance, delegating the most boring and mundane work to him. But when she realizes that Wes is also a hard worker and eager to prove himself, and that his laughing at the joke was a big misunderstanding, Corrine’s feelings shift and she realizes that she’s falling for him.
Just Like That by Cole McCade
When Summer returns to his hometown to help take care of his ailing mom, he’s forced to get a job at the only place that’s hiring: Albin Academy, his alma mater. But unfortunately for him, his supervisor is Professor Fox Iseya, an instructor that made his life miserable when Summer was a student at Albin. Now they’re both teachers, working together in close proximity, and Summer sees a different side of Fox Iseya. As he works on building his self-confidence, Iseya’s walls begin to fall down, and they find themselves attracted to one another, unable to deny their growing feelings.
Want more romance with fun settings for your TBR shelves? Check out the best coffeeshop romances!