I love a workplace romance. It’s one of my favourite tropes, so it’s no surprise my debut novel, Four Night Stand, is an office romance. It’s about two colleagues at a publishing company who attend a conference together and decide to have a conference fling, even though they maybe (secretly) want something more … There’s spice and people denying their feelings and a a (totally incorrect) assumption that ‘what happens at conference, stays at conference’.
It was a lot of fun to write, because workplace romances are one of my favourite types of the ‘forced proximity’ trope. The quarters don’t get much more confined than an office where you’re generally spending five full-time days with each other.
Here are some office romances that I’ve loved from film and TV shows, ranked from tamest to spiciest. (If Four Night Stand was made into a film, it would be at the spicy end of this scale.)
Parks and Recreation: Leslie and Ben
This is possibly the most wholesome, couple-goals relationship ever depicted on screen. Leslie and Ben—two small-town local government workers—are perfect for each other. So similar in so many ways. They’re the same brand of nerdy, are both a little awkward and both driven by a similar moral compass.
Bonus shout-out to April and Andy, who get the chaotic, opposites-attract/grumpy-sunshine storyline to counterpoint the Leslie and Ben dynamic.
The Proposal (2009): Margaret and Andrew
One of my favourite rom-coms of all time, and a classic enemies-to-lovers, fake dating story. She’s the boss, he’s the assistant. She’s about to be deported to Canada so blackmails him into pretending to be her fiancé. Their first kiss is purposefully extremely awkward and there is some nudity used to great comedic effect, but it isn’t particularly spicy. The whole film is incredible though, and I’d watch Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds co-star in a dozen more rom-coms and not get bored. Plus, it’s so quotable.
Partner Track: Ingrid and Jeff
It’s a show about lawyers on the ‘partner track’ at a firm. Ingrid thinks she’s got a good chance but then Jeff shows up. They had an incredible, life-changing night together six years ago … but he doesn’t remember it. Or does he? And then she starts dating someone else so it’s a moot point. Or is it? Drama, tension, stolen glances and conversations laden with subtext. Late nights working together in the office. A stolen dinner in the boss’s office. Beautiful.
Younger: Liza and Charles
Liza’s a 40-year-old mother pretending to be 27 so she can re-enter the workforce. Charles is the big boss at the publishing company she works at. It’s a slow build toward them coming together (there’s barely anything between them in season one), but then it starts layering up, little moments together all adding up to a clandestine attraction and eventual dating. I still think about that scene at the end of season two when Liza quits and Charles goes to find her and convince her to come back: “We want you back at Empirical. Just think about it. While you’re at it—think about this.” And then he kisses her! Very swoony and passionate (though yes, also a little problematic considering he thinks she’s a 27-year-old employee).
There’s also another romantic storyline between Liza and Josh, a younger man, which gets pretty heated, too—he’s got the stamina and enthusiasm of a man in his 20s …
The Hating Game (2021): Lucy and Joshua
Based on one of my favourite romance novels, written by Aussie romance author Sally Thorne, this is a very fun film. They’re office rivals fighting over the same job. She thinks they hate each other but he has other feelings. There’s a lot of delicious tension that underpins all the love interests’ conversations. And then … the elevator scene. Damn. Get the fan out! And we can’t forget that scene in the supply closet. They’re having (another) argument, she puts her hands on him, the mood changes, and then after an almost-kiss, he says: ‘I’m not going to put my hands on you again unless you tell me that nobody kisses you like I do.’
Suits: Rachel and Mike
Another fabulous workplace will-they-or-won’t-they relationship. Also another show set at a law firm. They tee Mike and Rachel’s relationship up right from the pilot (incidentally, one of the best pilots ever). ‘Wow. Pretty.’ ‘Good. You’ve hit on me. We can get it out of the way that I am not interested.’ They kiss in season one, but then it’s a slow build all the way to the season two finale (and even then the relationship has a long way to go). It’s so well done though, and when the sparks hit, it’s a full ignition—think messy, angry hook-up in the office file room after Mike reveals a massive secret to Rachel.
The Bold Type: Sutton and Richard
Probably my favourite example of an age-gap romance on screen (there’s 15 years between them). Sutton’s an assistant at a magazine company and Richard’s on the executive board as the in-house attorney. At the start of the show they’re already dating but keeping their relationship a secret. Their on-again/off-again relationship spans all five seasons, with plenty of ups and downs, but it’s a fun, playful, sexy relationship underpinned by a massive amount of respect between the two of them. They are so into each other, and so hot for each other (and so hot), and so have each other’s backs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Georgia Moore
Georgia Moore is an author of steamy contemporary romance. Her stories feature competent heroines who are still figuring out what they want from life, and heroes who’ve got emotional baggage to unpack.
When not consuming copious amounts of pop culture (mostly romance novels), Georgia can be found singing in a choir, eating an endless amount of carbs, or being overly competitive at board games and trivia.
Love a flirty rom-com? Don’t miss Four Night Stand
Two colleagues. One conference. No strings attached?
Two people who’ve been burned by past lovers settle for a conference fling while secretly wanting more.
Jules lives in her comfort zone. Years ago, taking a risk left her dumped and heartbroken, and now the status quo is her safe space. It’s not so bad. She lives with two awesome friends, has a manageable crush on Cameron, a colleague she’s never met in person, and her job … well, she used to love her IT job at a publishing company. Now it feels like ticking a box. So when she’s asked at the last minute to attend a conference, she figures it could be the thing she needs to reinspire her. And then she finds out Cameron is coming too.
Cameron left his last workplace abruptly after a break-up gone wrong. In a new city and a new team, he’s content to keep everyone at arm’s length so there’s no chance of the past repeating. Except for one person in the IT department who always answers his calls for help, and shares his humour and taste in music. But they’ve never met face-to-face, so it doesn’t count. Until they get sent to a conference together and suddenly, Cameron realises it does count. A lot.
Thrown together away from the office and their colleagues, Jules and Cameron decide to have a conference fling. It’s risk-free and has a guaranteed amicable ending. But emotions are never predictable …
‘Four Night Stand is a great read – flirtatious fun becoming hot and spicy and layered with deep, emotional vulnerability.’ – USA Today bestselling author Alyssa J. Montgomery