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Every so often the news media take note of a phenomenon so huge and ubiquitous that it is otherwise as invisible as the woodwork. In the case of romance fiction, one might as well throw in the walls. With a romance novel in any number of languages being sold somewhere around the globe every four seconds, almost all of them published by two allied companies, Harlequin in the U.S. and Mills & Boon in Britain, the genre is certainly a gigantic industry. But is it the oddball, sideshow-to-real-literature that it is often portrayed to be?
Julie Moggan's new documentary, Guilty Pleasures, arrives from Britain to offer a much closer and more perceptive look at the world of the romance novel by profiling five people involved in it. Though their roles vary widely, they reveal the deeper personal and social meanings of the genre's allure. Guilty Pleasures discovers not so much a business as a global community of shared imagination, a community whose yearning for romance fiction's Holy Grail — true love — seems to know no barrier of language or culture, nor show signs of abating any time soon.