Romance is alive and well in the U.S.

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(StatePoint) All across the country romance is blossoming. More couples are going to movies, sales of romance novels are climbing and sweethearts continue to exchange chocolate in heart-shaped boxes.

While America witnessed the worst economic collapse in generations, movie attendance rose 16 percent last year, the highest increase in two decades, according to Media by Numbers. Couples taking in movies no doubt contributed to this growth, say experts.

And with many book categories experiencing significant drops in sales last year, Nielsen BookScan noted a rise in the adult fiction category, with many publishers reporting an increase in the popularity of romance novels, in particular.

“Love is very popular. Romantic novels and films are great escapism, yet they also inspire us to bring romance into our relationships, unlike other forms of art and literature,” said relationship expert, Gayle Rogers, who has been a romance novelist for the past 40 years. “My books keep up with the times and reflect what people want and need.”

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With romance alive and well, Rogers has seen a resurgence in the sales of her 1972 best-selling, million-copy classic, “Nakoa’s Woman,” which traces the lives of two star-crossed lovers in the Old West, and its newer sequels “Gladyce with a C,” in which the lovers meet again in the Second World War, and “For Love’s Sake Only,” where they unite in Elizabethan England. Her other six novels also have been faring well, due in large part to their continued focus on these popular characters and on love overcoming the obstacles of daily life.

“Good romantic fiction appeals to several generations of readers because love is essential to being human. I am just keeping up with the times,” she pointed out.

In today’s tough times, couples are enjoying romantic movies and books that transport them to other periods in their lives, such as the recent hit “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” or those set in history, such as Rogers’ popular novel, “My Name Was Mary,” which delves into the love between Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd.

And other statistics show that American couples could be enjoying dates more frequently. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 23.8 pounds of chocolate is consumed annually by the average American, much of it on Valentine’s Day.

“The current state of the world seems to have drawn more people to romantic gestures and romantic fiction,” added Rogers, whose nine romance novels can be found in such online bookstores as amazon.com, bn.com and sojournerpublishers.com.

No matter if your idea of romance is an escapist novel, a romantic comedy or a Barry White CD, you’re not alone in seeking more romance.

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