By Felix Vasquez Jr. | February 27, 2007

“If a man wants to know what a woman wants, they should read these books.”

Romance Novels, or “Chick Lit” as it’s laughingly referred to these days, is a genre you’d be taken aback to discover is more beloved by female readers who aren’t disconnected soccer moms and sixty something’s.

“Where the Heart Roams” is an entertaining documentary about the popularity of romance novels and how this genre has taken the world by storm, with its hordes of foaming female fans who read twenty a week and appear at the book signings. Director Csicsery takes an inside glimpse into the world of romance novels exploring the lives of the authors and how they came to write these books, while dissecting the craze with its various fans exemplifying why these books have such a power.

Like King or Bukowski fans, these women are devoted, they’re consistent, and they admire these authors. The stories of these predominantly female authors and how they came into the world of writing are often fascinating and entertaining, and Csicsery knows how to capture their opinions while adding a strong relevance to their role in the writing world.

Most of these women are writers who concoct fantasies of their perfect romances, romances that are more idyllic than they’d like to admit, and “Where the Heart Roams” ironically reveal these women as unfulfilled and unsatisfied, and also as rabid feminists. Csicsery never questions how these books trivialize the writing medium, or how they’ve turned the task of writing into a mundane hobby.

Csicsery also vastly over thinks and over estimates the world of the romance novel, a world of simplistic predictable stories, crude fantasies, whimsical fantasy worlds, and rehashed plot lines that almost all of the fans interviewed declare they can write themselves, and delves too often into the passive aggressive feminist who keeps their men as unrealistic fantasies.

Where as men fantasize about women from “Playboy,” women fantasize about men from romance novels. Both are unrealistic images of the perfect mate that can not be fulfilled, and neither party are destined to be pleased in the long run, so they immediately sabotage any real hope of happiness stuck in this realm of fantasy.

But where it lacks in truly challenging its topic, “Where the Heart Roams” is a fascinating glimpse into an often obscure world of readers who take great joy in these fantasies, nonetheless.

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