Apr 28 2013 9:00am

Trope of the Month: Boss-Assistant

Nothing Personal by Jaci BurtonAcademically put, tropes are “common or overused theme[s] or device[s]," which makes them sound like cliches, which makes them seem like a bad thing.

But they’re totally not! Romance novel fans all have their favorite—not to mention least favorite—tropes, from friends to lovers, chick in pants, secret baby, marriage of convenience, opposites attract, May-December, boss-assistant...the list goes on.

Each month, we’ll be picking a romance novel trope and ask you to offer recommendations falling under the trope rubric (again with the academic talk!).

In boss-employee (boss-assistant, boss-housekeeper, boss-governess, etc.) romances, heroes and heroines risk breaking alllll the workplace rules to be with the one they love—and boy can that forbidden aspect make for some delicious tension. Here are a few such stories that come to my mind:

  • Sarah's Child by Linda Howard
  • Nothing Personal by Jaci Burton
  • Dream's End by Diana Palmer
  • The Blind-Date Proposal by Jessica Hart
  • Only His by Susan Mallery
  • A Deal with the Devil by Liz Carlyle
  • Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas
  • Anything He Wants by Sara Fawkes

Any others come to mind? In the above novels, the heroes are the bosses—have any recommendations where the heroine is the boss? What about male/male or female/female romances that feature this trope?

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Patricia Wilkerson
1. Proofreaderpat
One of my favorites in this trope is A Very Special Favor by Kristin James. A good f/f book is Too Close To Touch by Georgia Beers. I strongly recommend both!
Carmen Pinzon
3. bungluna
@Proofreaderpat - I was at school in France and read the James book in French. I liked it so much that I eventually tracked it down in English. I still have both editions in my keeper shelf. Obsessive reader, who, me?
4. Scarlettleigh
You know I can think of numerous category romances that use this trope, but not any big name romance authors. I really enjoyed the Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant movie TWO WEEKS NOTICE, because it is done with humor. However otherwise this trope is sort of problematic for me. I had a co-worker that was having an affair with our second level boss and I just remember how uncomfortable we all felt when she could come in and announce that he was running a little late.
5. wsl0612
I love The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds! But for the most part this is not a trope I favor, as Scarlett notes it is generally quite icky IRL.
Megan Frampton
6. MFrampton
I just finished reading Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway, which definitely twists this trope in an interesting way (the hero is a straight transvestite, and the heroine is his assistant).
Glass Slipper
7. GlassSlipper
The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt has a hero who is the steward of the heroine's estate. Loved this book.

The Price of Temptation by Lecia Cornwall has a hero who is employed as a footman in the heroine's home. He's in disguise, but does act the part for most of the book. Loved this book, too.
Carmen Pinzon
8. bungluna
If estate managers count, The Rake by Mary Jo Putney has the heroine as the manager of the hero's estate.
Ellen Hutchings
9. shadowmaster13
I do love this trope, my recommendation for a gender-reversal (he even pines while she doesn't know he exists), is Kay Hooper's
Kissed by Magic.
10. SandyinAlabama
One of my favorites is an old Harlequin by Charlotte Lamb, Obsession. The heroine stays really exasperated with her playboy boss and the broken-hearted ladies that she has to comfort for him. Her favorite fantasy is watching him falling down the elevator shaft. He gets caught by her in a compromising position with her sister just because she's his type. When the heroine quits he says, "But you love me!", which surprises both of them. Of course there's a HEA. Great story.
11. minesha
"But you love me!"
Hahahahaha! Oh, how I have to read this novel!
Thank you everyone for recommendations!
12. minesha
The cold king by Amber Jaegar
The boss's fake fiance by Inara Scott
The plan by Qwen Salsbury
My darling echo by Gayle Wilson
Tapestry by Karen Ranney

These are a few boss-assistant romances which come to mind right now.
Heather Rizzuti
13. heatherbartley
A really good recent book with this trope is "Seducing Summer" by Serenity Woods. In this one, the heroine is the boss, the CEO of a small lingerie company, and her new assistant is the hero, who is secretly undercover protecting her from a criminal targeting her! Fun with warm, multi-faceted characters. I highly recommend it.
14. PhoebeChase
The Rule Book by Jennifer Blackwood comes out today and it is a hilarious version of the boss-assistant trope! I loved it! Except for the closed-door sex scenes. Man, I REALLY wanted those. :D
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