WINSTON-SALEM,, N.C., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Intellectually, men and women know romantic love doesn't conquer all, but it doesn't stop 75 million in America from reading a romance novel, researchers say.
The Romance Writers of America say romance fiction sales are expected to top $1.35 billion when the final figures are tallied for 2010, with nearly 75 million reading at least one romance novel during the year.
Lynn Neal, associate professor of religion at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., says in romance novels, there's an emphasis on attaining the perfect relationship and that doing so will solve all life's problems, provide one with a purpose -- marriage, children, family -- and allow one to experience the transcendent power of love.
Romantic heroes and heroines in stories and films have strong personalities, but writers indicate two are incomplete by themselves, Neal says.
"Only in recognizing something greater -- their love -- can a meaningful life be claimed -- an idea that resonates with elements of religion, namely finding purpose and completion in our lives," Neal says in a statement.
"If religion provides people with a community, with a sense of meaning and purpose, and with a way to experience transcendence, then popular culture's promotion of romance certainly qualifies."
Romance novels and films end with the couple having consummated their relationship, the sun sets, life is complete, but there's rarely a scene where the heroine is picking up the dirty socks from the floor, Neal adds.