I've never thought of myself as a romance writer (well, not since high school, when my dream was to become the next Victoria Holt...look her up, ya little whippersnappers); I consider myself a fantasy writer. But somehow my books have landed with publishers who specialize in romance. I worry I'm somehow misrepresenting myself.
It's not that there isn't any romance in my books, it's just that the romance doesn't drive the plot of the story. As for an HEA ("happily ever after," a requirement in most romance), well, it depends on your definition of "happily." My characters are generally happy with their choices, and they don't usually end up alone, but the relationships certainly wouldn't be covered by the Defense of Marriage Act. (Side note: I always hear that in my head as "Defensive Marriage Act." Makes a lot more sense that way, if you ask me.)
The funny thing is, I spent many years agonizing over the fact that there was too much romance in my fantasy. Back when I started writing fantasy (yes, it was the Stone Age; thanks for noticing), the bastard child of speculative fiction—itself the bastard child of genre fiction—looked down upon the redheaded stepchild of romance, and frequently beat it up for the heck of it and stole its lunch money. Paranormal romance and urban fantasy didn't even exist then. (I said it was the Stone Age, whippersnappers. Stop rubbing it in.)
But while I was busy trying to make my epic fantasy acceptable to the keepers of the status quo, writers like Lynn Flewelling and Jacqueline Carey came along and told the establishment to suck rocks. (I'm sure there are other, earlier examples, but these are the ones I noticed and fell head over heels for.) They wrote the stories they wanted to tell, and romance happened to be a part of it.
So now I'm working on revisions to the final installment of the first trilogy in my House of Arkhangel'sk series, and I'm having a fight with the heroine. Seems I was so successful at suppressing her romantic leanings to fit the traditional mold that a scene that should have been the romantic climax is utterly devoid of passion. I think I've stumbled upon the solution, though. I had the love interest slap her when she finally confessed her feelings. That woke her up. ;)
I know I'm pretty much asking for an "amen" from the choir here, but how do you feel about romance in your fantasy? Is it "You got your romance in my fantasy!", "You got your fantasy in my romance!", or is it an awesome tasty flavor combination you can't believe somebody didn't think of before?