Escaping the “Time Bind”: Negotiations of Love and Work in Jayne Ann Krentz's “Corporate Romances”

Publication year
The Journal of American Culture

the early 1990s marks the emergence of contemporary romances featuring ambitious working heroines with substantial economic power. [...] The language of the workplace is transferred, playfully and almost seamlessly, into the private space of the bedroom. Conflicts of feeling between lovers are to be resolved through theories of ‘‘personnel management,’’ for in the novel’s contemporary setting, distinct boundaries between the public and the private, or between work and home, begin to disappear. (93)


The protagonists’ private and public lives become comfortably conflated as their marital union signifies a corporate merger, and as they embrace ‘‘parental’’ roles at the helm of a family-run corporation. The corporate romance’s resolution to the home/work binary, however, is limited in its availability, particularly to working women. The heroine’s ability to achieve a satisfactory balance between home and work hinges on her significant socioeconomic status and her inheritance of a family-owned company. (93)


If the conventional romances of the 1980s and previous depict romantic relationships in the context of Fordist capitalism, then the corporate romance formula of the 1990s reveals the great transformation wrought by the regime of flexible capital and its inescapable impact on gender roles and gender relations. The subgenre of ‘‘corporate romance’’ represents the new configurations of male and female subjectivity, and of work and home spaces, in such fantastic form that the current canon of romance criticism provides an inadequate framework for analysis. The objective of this article is to unpack the corporate romance’s generic implications and contribute to a new understanding of romance’s social significance in the era of flexible global capitalism. (94)