Published by Carina Press on 13th April 2021
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A meet-cute gone wrong is the start of a surprising courtship in this fresh, modern take on the workplace romance from debut author Ruby Barrett
Corinne Blunt knows what people think of her—she’s an icy, unapproachable executive. It’s the price she’s had to pay to get to the top. But there’s knowing you have a reputation in the office, and there’s hearing your new intern laugh when someone calls you “Blunt the C*nt” in the elevator on his first day.
She’d hoped to finally find an ally in Wesley Chambers, but she’s not about to let him off the hook for joining the office boys’ club. Taking refuge in the professional boundaries between them, she relegates Wes to assistant work—which would do the trick, if he weren’t so eager to prove he’s a decent human being.
Wes is sincerely apologetic, insisting it was a misunderstanding, and to her surprise, Corinne believes him. Being forced to work together was one thing, but long hours at the office with what turns out to be a kind, thoughtful man soon has their business relationship turning personal, and things get complicated—fast.
Could this be something more serious than either of them dared to hope for? Or is their relationship just playing into the harmful power dynamics Corinne’s had to endure her entire career?
The role reversal that ‘Hot Copy’ presents—a hard, confident and goal-driven boss and an intern, the former of whom misconstrued a meeting and set them both on a path of dislike and spite—is story I couldn’t wait to get my hands on.
‘Hot Copy’ delves into sexual politics in the office and I definitely cringed at the very real issue of sexual harassment here and the delicate navigating it takes around this thorny issue especially when a woman worms her way around it in order to stay ‘professional’. On the one hand, I felt for Corinne, overly-sensitive and spiteful because of her own gender trying to climb the corporate ladder while taking all sorts of harassment along with it.
But if the story explored this question and put it all in form of Corinne and her struggles, inequality seemed to define her and Wesley’s relationship from the start: from boss to intern, from older career-woman to younger greenhorn-subordinate. I simply saw Wesley differing to Corinne at every point, taking her rejections and her whiplash mood-swings and pushing away like punches to the gut without really stepping up on his own to challenger her.
On every front, Wesley stayed the passive one, shifting the blame of everything going wrong onto himself, while refusing to recognise that Corinne needed to own her own part in her fickle ways. That she seemed ashamed of their relationship—admittedly a secret one in the office—while taking only the pieces of Wesley she wanted was too selfish and too one-sided for me to call this a pairing I wanted to get behind.
Above all, where was the communication between them, or worse yet, the reciprocity? There were pages and pages of Wesley cajoling, his rationalising monologues about wanting to be with her, taking the first step of action to do the things to make Corinne comfortable, but her reciprocity was sorely lacking throughout. For once, I wanted her to step up and out of her own comfort zone the way Wesley had done for her, but time and again, it was her tucking tail, keeping quiet and then pushing away when it mattered the most when all the sacrifices were made on his side.
Even towards the end, Corinne seemed more concerned with her job and career status than wanting to be with Wesley—after all that he’d done for her selflessly!—, displaying a mean-spirited, small-heartedness that I just couldn’t get over. She took and took and took, gave too little while Wesley did too much of the opposite. I never saw her taking the big leap forward but instead relegated him to a side matter; instead it was up to serendipity and chance that that they were together by the end of the book. What could have been a way more satisfying conclusion turned out to be a frustrating, hair-pulling one, where the romance wasn’t one made of a couple fighting for each other, but rather, one where Corinne wanted a foot out at all times.