“In a recession,” said Motoko Rich in The New York Times, “what people want is a happy ending.” While most booksellers are struggling, sales of romance novels are strong—it appears that “today’s readers are looking for an escape from the grim realities of layoffs, foreclosures, and shrinking 401(k) balances.”

“It's not exactly a surprise that the romance novel business would be pretty recession-proof,” said Meghan Daum in the Chicago Tribune. No matter how bad the economy gets, most people—“okay, mostly women—can still afford a $5 paperback.” And it’s easy to understand the allure: “Isn't ‘the quest for true love’ really just code for something else, namely the search for a sense of safety—financial and otherwise—in a precarious world?”

Maybe, said Devin Dwyer in NPR.org, but it’s not as if romance novels offer complete escape. “If you've ever cracked the cover of one of these grocery-aisle paperbacks, you know the plots are not entirely free of emotional turmoil in the heroine's fictional ‘quest for true love’”—readers may be trading one kind of stress for another.